Hampton, Ga. (July 16, 1999) - Billy Boat set the fastest lap in qualifying tonight to take the pole for tomorrow night's Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Boat's lap in the Harrah's Casinos sponsored A. J. Foyt team car...
Hampton, Ga. (July 16, 1999) - Billy Boat set the fastest lap in qualifying tonight to take the pole for tomorrow night's Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Boat's lap in the Harrah's Casinos sponsored A. J. Foyt team car was his fastest of the weekend.
"I think it was just a culmination of the whole team putting together a good package," Boat said. "The whole team did a great job of finding the right balance. The secret here is to find the right balance and the right gear."
Boat's pole, his eighth in his Indy Racing League career, was his first pole this season. "We have struggled this year in our qualifying. Hopefully this is a turn for us."
A. J. Foyt, Boat's team owner, explained why the team's qualifying has been so erratic this season. "When we qualify, we have a two-speed. So when we miss it, we really miss it. It kind of looked bad when we first started off (this season). But all in all, I'm happy for Harrah's and the team."
Greg Ray, of Plano, Texas will start outside the front row, alongside Boat. "We worked primarily on our race setup," said Ray. "But we worked on qualifying setup this morning and got progressively faster. We went just a little bit quicker in qualifying than we did in this last practice."
Sam Schmidt, who finished second in the last Indy Racing League event three weeks ago at Pikes Peak International Raceway, will start third. "The car was just great," said Schmidt. "It's been great all weekend. But that's all it had."
Schmidt was the fastest driver all day on Thursday. But there will be plenty of fast cars during the race with drafting playing into the equation. "There's going to be a lot of drafting, and you have to make quick decisions. This car is good in traffic. It just feels like we haven't quite got rid of all the drag. I think we've got the power, though.
Rounding out the top five in the closest grid in IRL history, just .62 of a second separating all 25 qualifiers, were Mark Dismore and Scott Goodyear. After tonight's final practice session, where cars were comfortably running three wide through the turns, Scott Goodyear summed up tomorrow's race. "It's going to be quite a show!"
The Kobalt Mechanics Tools 500 presented by MCI WorldCom will take the green flag at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 17, 1999. Live television coverage will be provided by the FOX Sports Net.
- Motorsport News International Staff