Boat qualifies with assist from Foyt
Associated PressINDIANAPOLIS -- 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.
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
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
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
Scott Harrington put himself on the bubble as the slowest
qualifier at 215.971, bumping Jones. He in turn was bumped by Jeret
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
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
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
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
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.
|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.|
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
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.