222 Offshore moved five points clear at the top of the standings to take the outright lead in a thrilling title race after surviving what driver Darren Nicholson described as the "hardest, bumpiest race I have ever been in" to take their second successive victory of the season at the XINSURANCE Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City, round 3 of the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship. “That was the hardest bumpiest race I have ever been in," he said. "Everyone who finished deserves a pat on the back. It was an absolute shocker; I don’t know how we brought the boat back in one piece," adding that Giovanni Carpitella "was fantastic on the throttles and the team did a great job to give us a totally reliable boat. Tough, tough race.”

Poor visibility and deteriorating conditions delayed the start, with the race reduced from 13 to eight laps. The fight for the podium was as ferocious as the waves faced from the moment the green flag was raised.

Nicholson and Carpitella maintained the advantage of starting from P1 and managed to hold station throughout, holding off Steve Curtis and Brit Lilly in Huski Ice Spritz for the first two laps and then Pothole HeroesJohnny Tomlinson and Carlos de Quesada through the mid-point before Huski moved back into second on lap 6, with 222 Offshore taking the checkered flag by less than five-tenths of a second. “The boat took hit after hit flying off one wave then smashing into the next. It was unbelievably tough, but the team did a great job, everything held together in almost impossible conditions,” Carpitella said. “It was very close at the end. I kept looking in the mirror and pushed when they got close, but we managed to hold them off. The feeling is great. We showed we are the fastest—we have two wins, three pole positions and now lead the championship outright.”

After winning their titanic battle with Pothole Heroes, Steve Curtis was upbeat despite what he called "a slight miscalculation on the lap count."

“It was a little unfortunate," Curtis said. "The boat was coming to us although we didn’t have the perfect setup, but it wasn’t bad. It was a great race, and we live to fight another day. We thought we had another lap but messed up on our timings—it happens!”

XINSURANCE/Good Boy Vodka’s new pairing of Randy Kent and Grant Bruggemann celebrated a memorable first podium of the season for the team after bringing their new MTI home for the first time to post their first points of the season, taking the checkered flag in fourth but then promoted  to third after Pothole Heroes' time penalties were added. “That was a real bumpy race. Mercury makes a heck of an engine, because they were really screaming out there. Randy drove a great race,” Bruggemann said.

“Toughest race I have ever been in," Kent added. "There was no rhythm, and it was very hard to read the water. Couldn’t be happier, our first race together, we went the full distance and finished on the podium.”

It was an eventful return to racing for Pothole Heroes owner-driver de Quesada alongside Tomlinson, moving up into second spot on lap 3 and challenging the race leader when the boat snapped, hooked, and went inside a turn-buoy resulting in a 30-second time penalty. But they held onto second before a sudden steering adjustment at the same turn laps later eventually cost them time, dropping to third and ultimately fourth after being handed a second 30-second time penalty for a lane infraction. “It was a very tough race with rollers coming at you from every direction,” said de Quesada. “We were making a move on 222 when the boat hooked, and we missed the buoy and picked up the penalty and then a second one. But it was a good run.”

Monster Energy/M CON also produced its best performance of the season, making a great start with Tyler Miller and Myrick Coil moving up from fifth and momentarily into third on the opening lap before eventually slipping back to fifth, but going the race distance for the first time to post their first points of the year, finishing ahead of dfYoung, with Defalco retiring on lap 3.

There will be little respite for the teams after the toughest and most exciting race of the season, who now cross Lake Michigan and head northwest to Sheboygan for next weekend’s Mercury Racing Midwest Challenge on Aug. 11-13, and two races in two days.

Meanwhile, in Super Cat class, Tyler Miller and Myrick Coil took home first place in M CON/Monster Energy. The Super Cat race concluded after a red-flag situation close to the final lap when the 38' Skater Dirty Money (with Rusty Williams and Bill Pyburn) crashed, suffering catastrophic damage to the hull; the crew suffered no major injuries. Graydel and WHM Motorsports finished second and third, respectively.

The 450R Factory Stock competition saw Logan Adan and Ricky Maldonado in Doug Wright Powerboats take the checkered flag, followed by Taylor Scism and Johnny Tomlinson in T/S Motorsports. Willie Cabeza and Gary Ballough in GC Racing finished third. A new team, consisting of Caleb Mead and Shaun Torrente, finished fourth in MF Racing.

In Super Stock racing, held on Saturday, John Strama and Billy Allen took the win in Team Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping. Jackhammer and Allied Construction Management took second and third.

Other winners in Michigan City:

MOD VEE: Chris Colson and Raymond Evans in Shocker.

STOCK VEE: Jimmy Wessel and Robby Goodwin in Cigar Monster Racing.

VEE EXTREME: Ed Smith and Anthony Smith in Knucklehead Racing.

BRACKET 300: Cade Herbott and Keith Herbott in Mr. Herbotto.

BRACKET 400: Johnny Saris, Jason Saris and navigator Verne French in Saris Racing.

BRACKET 500: Mike McColgan and Fran Vellutato in Rum Runners.

BRACKET 600: Nick Hurlbot and Travis Blackmore in ST Racing.

BRACKET 700: John Lezzatti and Jerry Harmant in Bad Decisions.