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Boat qualifies with assist from Foyt
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Billy Boat capped a frenzied final hour of qualifying Sunday, beating the gun by less than a minute to bump his way into the Indianapolis 500.

The second and final day of time trials for next Sunday's race began with 10 spots left to fill in the 33-car field.

Billy Boat
Billy Boat's car sheds its cowling after hitting the wall in the first turn during qualifying Sunday. Boat made the Indy 500 field with a backup car.

For most of the six hours the 2½-mile oval was open for qualifying Sunday, it seemed very few teams had the speed or the equipment to get the job done.

Boat, who qualified for his fourth Indy start, was one of the drivers struggling desperately.

Looking for qualifying speed early in the day, Boat crashed the Team Pelfrey car in which he began the week.

Just when it looked like he might be out of chances, Boat got a helping hand from A.J. Foyt, for whom he won the 1998 Indy pole and finished third here last year.

Foyt, whose regular drivers Eliseo Salazar and Jeff Ward were among the 23 drivers who qualified Saturday, turned Ward's backup car over to Boat.

Roberto Guerrero had aborted two of the three allowable qualifying attempts in that car Saturday.

Boat was able to practice in the car briefly, but it developed problems midway through Boat's four-lap qualifying attempt with less than one hour to go. After the engine momentarily died and his dashboard went blank halfway through the run, the Arizonan continued and wound up qualifying at a very slow and insecure 192.105 mph.

Even before Boat was back on pit road, Foyt looked at his watch and hollered to his crew, "Get the other car out here."

They rolled out Salazar's backup, a G Force-Oldsmobile Aurora that hadn't turned a hot lap all week, and put it at the end of the qualifying line.

As the clock ticked toward the 6 p.m. closing, driver after driver went out looking to break into the lineup.

Steve Knapp qualified at 220.290 and Jack Miller turned a 216.154, filling the 32nd and 33rd spots and leaving Boat as the slowest driver in the field.

Lyn St. James, coming back from a frightening crash during Saturday's qualifying, bumped Boat's car out of the lineup with a solid run of 218.826 in Dick Simon's backup car.

Davy Jones, who hasn't driven an Indy car since he sustained serious head injuries in a crash in Orlando, Fla., in January 1997, ran 214.932, bouncing Robby Unser's gambling 212.678 from the field.

Scott Harrington put himself on the bubble as the slowest qualifier at 215.971, bumping Jones. He in turn was bumped by Jeret Schroeder's 219.322.

Less than five minutes from the end, rookie Dan Drinan took to the oval, leaving Boat -- next in line -- sitting in the fourth Foyt car, idling the powerful motor, hoping to get one last chance.

Drinan's first lap was just over 213 and his crew cut short the attempt, allowing Boat to drive onto the track seconds before the final gun.

Knowing there would be no more chances, Boat started with two laps over 219 and finished with a solid 218.872, bumping Miller and taking the inside spot on the last of 11 three-car rows.

"The kid's one hell of a good friend of mine and that's one hell of a job he did," said Foyt, a four-time winner here as a driver and last year's winning car-owner with Kenny Brack. "That takes guts to do what he did. The car never had a hot lap, he never was in it. That's unbelievable."

Boat, 34, said, "They put me in a race car I had never turned a wheel in. But I had been with this team before and know how they prepare a race car, and I was able just to put my foot down and go, which at 6 o'clock at Indy on bubble day you've just to do."

The fastest second-day qualifier was Raul Boesel, who avoided all the drama by putting his car into the field early in the day at 222.113.

Other final day qualifiers were Jimmy Kite at 220.718, Jaques Lazier at 220.675, Steve Knapp at 220.290, Davey Hamilton at 219.878, Johnny Unser at 219.066, and rookie Andy Hillenburg at 218.285.

In all, seven first-year drivers made the field, including CART series champion Juan Montoya, who was second only to pole-winner Greg Ray, the defending Indy Racing League champion in Saturday's time trials.

St. James, 53, will be the oldest starter in the race, while Sarah Fisher, 19, will be the youngest. It is the first time two women have qualified for the Indy field.

Four crashes Sunday raised the total for the week to 20.

The only driver injured Sunday was Hideshi Matsuda of Japan, who crashed for the third straight day and wound up in Methodist Hospital with fractures to his right wrist and left knee.

Matsuda was in good condition Monday following surgery on his right wrist and left knee.

Matsuda also received a slight concussion in the crash Sunday and is expected to be released from Methodist Hospital early this week, Dr. Henry Bock said.

Earlier in the week, Tyce Carlson spent one night at Methodist with a concussion.

Stan Wattles, who qualified Saturday, also crashed while practicing Sunday. He said the damage to his car appeared repairable in time for the two-hour "Carburetion Day" practice on Thursday -- the only time until the race begins that the cars will be allowed on the track.
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