‘Frustrated’ Shane looking ahead to Seattle

August 4, 2016

Jimmy Shane admits that he is still “very, very frustrated” over the penalty that robbed him of victory at Tri-Cities, but the U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank/Miss Madison driver is ready to move on and has his sites set on this weekend’s Albert Lee Cup in Seattle. Shane appeared to score his 13th career win when he steered the HomeStreet to victory in the HAPO Columbia Cup in the Tri-Cities, Wash. on Sunday. Shane and rival Jean Theoret had bumped during the final heat, but H1 Unlimited initially ruled that Theoret was to blame and issued the Oh Boy! Oberto driver a one-lap penalty. Case closed, right? Shane thought so and after he returned to the docks, he celebrated with teammates and did the obligatory post-race interviews. But it didn’t last long. Half an hour after the race, H1 officials summoned Shane and owner’s representative Charlie Grooms to a meeting where they told them the final was under review, specifically the collision between Shane and Theoret. “I could not even believe we were in that position,” Shane said on Wednesday. “A), to have them even reviewing that call that late after the final heat and B), the video we were looking at absolutely did not support how they could put the blame and the penalty on the U-1. I just got very, very frustrated in the trailer and walked outside and waited for their decision.” The issue at hand was who was to blame for the collision. As the two boats entered turn two, Theoret’s Oberto had a slight lead on Shane’s HomeStreet until the reached the apex - or center - of the turn. At that point Shane admits that he veered slightly away from the buoy line, but said it should have been a legal maneuverer. “I made it through nice and clean through the first two buoys and then I slid out half a lane at the apex buoy,” Shane said. “I was kind of going off of (Theoret) too; he had slid out to lane three or four in the turn and the next thing I knew, he hit a roller or something and he slid right in and that’s when the collision happened. At that point, I felt like I was in pretty good shape because I had moved out only half a lane while Jean had moved more than two lanes from the outside in. It was a jolt. It was a heck of a jolt.” H1 initially ruled that Theoret had encroached and issued a one-lap penalty. Shane, hearing the call on the radio, felt like he was in the clear. He still thought that way until his meeting with H1 Chairman Steve David and Chief Referee David Shaw. David and Shaw eventually decided to reverse the call, claiming that as the lead boat, Theoret had the right to determine his arc around the turn. By veering out, even so slightly, Shane was at fault. “The U-16 had the lead and the right to establish the arc. Just after the apex the U-1 straightened its arc ever so slight, and intersected the closing arc of the U-16,” wrote David in his “Chairman’s Corner” column on the H1 website. “The evidence was twofold. Had the 1 begun their arc and the 16 dove in, the 1 would have been forced into the infield. However, from a physics standpoint, by straightening at that buoy the impact of the 16 made no difference in the course of the 1.” David likened the call to one made on him at Evansville in 2009 when he was the driver of the Miss Madison. In that race, David - in lane one - hit a roller and slid out. Dave Villwock, driving the U-16 Miss Elam Plus, over-corrected and ended up blowing over. David was disqualified in the heat. Many fans have compared Sunday’s incident to one that happened last year at Seattle when Shane, in lane two, was penalized a lap for hitting J. Michael Kelly in a nearly identical incident. But in that case, Kelly had a slight lead. For Shane, the real comparable incident was in San Diego two years ago. Like Theoret, Shane was in lane two and had the lead when he skipped slightly and collided with Kelly as the two entered a turn. But it was Shane who was again penalized. “I have a hard time with the justification that they used to make the ruling. I feel like if they had used that justification in Tri-Cities, then we should get our win back from San Diego in 2014,” Shane said. “They used the justification that the lead boat controls the arc and at Seattle, Mike (Kelly) was the lead boat and he controlled the arc. I really feel like the penalty at Seafair was really questionable, but the penalty in San Diego was just as close and they used the same justification they just used against us. “The big thing is, stay consistent. It’s a consistency thing for me. You use the rules from the rulebook, but at the end of the day, there’s a bigger picture of what’s good for the sport,” Shane added. “I really feel like all three incidents where this happened were because of really, really good racing and that’s exactly what the fans expect from us as professional drivers. When things like that happen on the race course and you really can’t tell obviously what happened, then no call should be made.” Shane was also upset at the timing of the penalty. David said following the Seattle incident last year that a greater emphasis would be made on making quicker calls but Sunday’s penalty wasn’t issued until over an hour after the race was over. “When I got called down to the trailer, that’s the one thing that went through my mind. How could this possibly be happening right now when the commissioner of the sport said it would not happen again?” Shane said. “That’s been the hardest thing to understand and get through all of this. I really could care less who wins the race, but at the end of the day, the people who didn’t win were the fans of Tri-Cities because they had to sit through the same situation reoccurring.” Like he did last year, David said on Monday that the sport will strive to make quicker calls in the future. “We have previously discussed allowing what the fan sees in the final to be the result they leave with. Then, we could review video, interview the drivers etc. in a more calm environment and if a call should me made, we can apply the appropriate penalty during the week. Yesterday’s events may help expedite that vote within the Board of H1,” David said. “Allowing that time to consider all views may have led to a different penalty, or perhaps just monetary fines or point deductions or maybe the same decision.” Despite the incident, Shane is ready to move on. He still holds an 86-point lead over Kelly in the National High Points and with three races left in the season knows that every point will be contested. “It’s still very, very frustrating. But at the end of the day, it’s still just a boat race,” Shane said. “There are a lot of other things I have seen and experienced that have helped me get it off my mind.” A victory at Seattle would go a long way to putting the Tri-Cities incident on the back-burner. Shane hasn’t won on the Lake Washington course since 2013 - when he was driving the Graham Trucking - but has been close both times. Kelly, who replaced Shane in the Graham Trucking, won both races through a combination of guile and luck. In 2014, Kelly took the inside lane and kept Shane from passing him by slowly widening his arc until the two boats were at the edge of the racing lanes. H1 briefly considered penalizing Kelly for the maneuver but decided to let it stand. Last year the two boats battled deck-to-deck until Shane collided with Kelly in the final turn of the final lap. Shane recovered to win the heat but was penalized an hour later. While several race courses have reputations for being “rough,” Shane said that the Lake Washington course presents its own problems. “Seattle is the only two-mile course we’ll run on this year and that’s exciting because the boats really don’t get too far away from each other. All of the laps are pretty close. That makes it exciting for the fans; they’re not seeing a parade like you can see on the bigger courses,” Shane said. “Seattle is very unique in that it has the log boom on the back stretch and what happens there is you’ll get the parallel rollers down the backstretch and a lot of the drivers have more trouble holding their lanes because of those parallel rollers. The boats react kind of funky on that backstretch which makes it unique. “The most critical thing I would say in Seattle is to get a good, flying start because of the short course,” Shane added. “Lane one will obviously still be the best advantage, but it’s very easy on this course to get caught up in the 80 mph rule and not get a flying start and to get out of position. It does make it tough to push the limits on that rule, but you still have to get a good flying start no matter what lane you get.” One of the fastest fields in recent history will descend on Seattle, the unofficial capital of the sport. Along with Shane, Theoret and Kelly, Andrew Tate’s U-9 Les Schwab Tires - which blew a propeller at Tri-Cities - the U-3 Miss DiJulio with Jimmy King and the U-7 Graham Trucking II with Jeff Bernard are all serious contender for the title. For Shane, the key to weekend for his team will be the same as always. “Just keep doing what we’re doing. We have one of the best prepared boats and one of the most resourceful crews and they all have a job to do and they do it to the best of their ability,” Shane said. “Our goal is still to take each weekend one weekend at a time and put the best setup in the boat that we can and put ourselves in the final and go for the win in the final.”