Steve David leads Thunder on the Ohio practice session

Steve David and his Oh Boy! Oberto team was the fastest boat on the Ohio on Friday afternoon.  David cruised to a speed of 153.429 mph in his early afternoon qualifying run.

David told 14 News that he expects this race to perhaps be the most competitive Evansville has ever seen. "No question, we're at 153 (mph), got another boat at 152. Another at 151. It's never been that tight." David says that should set up a very interesting finale. "It's going to be awesome come Sunday."

David was just faster than Jean Theoret and the Miss Beacon Plumbing boat. Theoret's speed of 151.777 mph was good enough for second best of the 7 boats that attempted to qualify. The run was very satisfying for a driver who hasn't had much luck when it comes to Evansville. Theoret explained, "We've had a lot of hard luck here, we blew over twice, but Evansville is a great place to be. There's lots of fans. The fans really love the racing. We're glad to be back this year."

Third strongest on the day was Jimmy King and the local favorite MasterTire boat. King was just behind Theoret at 151.044 mph. King, who drives for Poseyville, Indiana's Ed Cooper, would love nothing more than to win in Evansville. "Sure it means more, you get the same effort no matter where we go," King said. "But the bottom line is to win races and being in Evansville, it would be a little more sweeter, that's all."

Noticeably absent from the field this year is Dave Villwock and the Miss Elam boat. The subtraction of the defending champ could make the field even more competitive, or so say the drivers.

David says it's good and bad that Villwock is not running in this years field. "On one hand you wish he was here because you want to beat the best and they are the best. On the other hand it certainly levels the playing field. It's no longer them and all the other teams, it's just all the other teams."

King says the playing field was already leveled despite Villwocks success in Evansville.
"I'd rather him be here, because I've battled with him for so long we just want to get it over with him. Dave leaves a bit of a hole but you go up and down these pits and 7 of the 9 or 10 boats here can win it every week. If he were here it would be just another boat."

Practice resumes tomorrow morning and there are heat races scheduled for later in the afternoon.