IRL: Indy500: Ray fastest, Boat searching for speed

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - Greg Ray posted the two fastest speeds during practice May 16 for the 85th Indianapolis 500, while Billy Boat was the fastest non-qualified driver as track activity resumed at the Indianapolis Motor...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 16, 2001 - Greg Ray posted the two fastest speeds during practice May 16 for the 85th Indianapolis 500, while Billy Boat was the fastest non-qualified driver as track activity resumed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a two-day break.

Ray, who qualified second on MBNA Pole Day May 12, was fastest today at 222.266 mph in the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone earlier in the practice. He posted the second-fastest speed, 221.085, in the last hour of practice in his No. 22 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

"We worked hard on race setup, running with full tanks," Ray said. "We're looking for more balance in muggy, thick air like we had today. It makes the car a lot different in this type of air."

Shigeaki Hattori was the second-fastest driver at 220.639 in the No. 55 EPSON G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, followed by 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series Rookie of the Year Airton Dare at 220.369 in the No. 88 1-800-BAR NONE TeamXtreme G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

Boat was next at 219.203 in the No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Unlike the top three drivers of the day, he still must earn a spot in the 33-car field on Bump Day this Sunday.

"We know we need a couple more miles an hour to make the race," Boat said. "What we're looking for is consistency with our laps. We've been struggling with a mid- to corner-exit understeer. You can't qualify here if you're lifting off the throttle."

Boat is hoping to avoid the drama of his qualifying effort last year, in which he entered the track less than one minute before Bump Day qualifying ended and earned a spot in the field.

"This is the Indy 500," Boat said. "There are no guarantees here. Until you are really qualified for this field when the gun goes off Sunday (to end qualifying), it's hard to be really sure, if you're in the back six or eight, that you can be there. I'm hoping we can run a solid 222. That's our goal."

This was the quietest day of practice since the event started May 6, as 22 drivers turned a total of 691 incident-free laps in 21 cars. It was the first track activity since second-day qualifications May 13.

Practice continues from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (EST) Thursday.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Shigeaki Hattori , Billy Boat , Airton Daré