IRL: Indy500: Practice report 2001 May 16

By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Indianapolis, IN (May 16, 2001) - Billy Boat, driver of the Beck Motorsports No. 98, turned 26 laps today searching for the speed he will need on Sunday to qualify for the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500.

By David Reininger - Motorsport.com

Indianapolis, IN (May 16, 2001) - Billy Boat, driver of the Beck Motorsports No. 98, turned 26 laps today searching for the speed he will need on Sunday to qualify for the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500. Boat, of Phoenix, AZ, was the fourth fastest driver of the day after recording a lap at 219.203 mph.

"We know that we need a couple of miles per hour to feel good about our qualifying position in the race," said Boat, fastest of the drivers yet to qualify for the race. "Right now we're just looking for consistency in our laps. That's where we've struggled over the last week; we could get in one good lap but the next three were falling off."

Although Boat and the Beck Motorsports team recorded speeds over 222 mph on two consecutive days last week, the team continues to search for the optimum qualifying setup. "You have the tendency to throw a lot of different things at the car when you're struggling a little bit. It's really very, very small changes that make the difference between a 219 and a 221 or 222 (mph)," Boat said.

"You have to be careful not to let your emotions get the best of you. You have to do what you know in your head is right, and just make small changes and just keep plugging away."

"We've been struggling with the mid to exit corner understeer. That's what we struggled with last week. We would be fast for one lap and then after that I'd have to start lifting because the car would want to wash out to the wall. You can't qualify here if you're lifting off the throttle."

Before practice started for the Indy 500, Boat was mentioned as a driver for several teams, including A. J. Foyt's team. "Right now my focus is 100 percent to put the Curb Records Beck Motorsports entry in the race. We still have two attempts with this car and there is another car sitting in our garage. We haven't become desperate yet, but we do need to get our act together, step it up and be able to run those speeds."

With each car limited to 25 sets of tires for the entire event, teams must use caution in allocating tires for practice and qualifying. "The problem right now is, we're limited on tires," Boat said. "You can't throw new tires on the car every time you go out to really see what you have. You have to run on old tires some and old tires don't have the same speed as new tires. Firestone has brought a great tire here, but they're best when they're brand new. Tomorrow or the next day we'll go out and do some qualifying simulations and find out exactly where we are."

"We have four days before qualifying. That's four days you can make gains or get lost and it's easy to get lost here. We're trying to save some things for later in the week so we don't peak too early. For a driver, you want to throw on new tires every time you go out. With thirty lap tires, the thing is sliding around pretty good."

Once qualifying gets underway on Bump Day, Boat doesn't plan on wasting any time. "We are going to be one of the first cars out on Sunday. We plan on making an attempt at that time. That's really the focus of our efforts, to run in those conditions at that time, to stay out of the heat of the day."

Although he has sat on the pole position at the Indianapolis 500, Boat is quite aware that, "this is the Indy 500, and there are no guarantees for anyone."

Notes:

Raul Boesel was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today. Boesel was seen in the Treadway-Hubbard Racing garage making preparations to practice in Arie Luyendyk's Meijer G Force tomorrow afternoon. Scott Cronk, Treadway-Hubbard Racing Vice President, said a decision to qualify Boesel in the race will be made Sunday.

***

Stan Wattles will be back in his No. 94 Dallara thanks to the diligent work of his crew. After Wattles hit the turn one wall during his qualifying effort on Sunday, the tub was sent to Aerodine Composites Group for repairs. The tub was returned to the Speedway at noon on Monday forcing the crew to work long into Monday and Tuesday night to reassemble the car. The car was presented to Indy Racing technical inspectors at 4:25 p.m. allowing Wattles to turn five laps this afternoon.

***

Donnie Beechler is hoping that Eliseo Salazar doesn't encounter problems when he attempts to qualify A. J. Foyt's No. 14 on Sunday. Once Salazar safely qualifies the Harrahs car, Foyt is expected to release one of his back up cars, naming Beechler as the pilot.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eliseo Salazar , Billy Boat , Raul Boesel , Donnie Beechler , Stan Wattles