IRL: Boat joins with Curb, Agajanian to form 2002 team

Boat didn't need to look far to fulfill both goals. 1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Boat will compete in the entire 2002 Indy Racing season as driver and co-owner of the new Curb/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team. Recording industry mogul Mike...

Boat didn't need to look far to fulfill both goals.

1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Boat will compete in the entire 2002 Indy Racing season as driver and co-owner of the new Curb/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team. Recording industry mogul Mike Curb and renowned motorsports businessman Cary Agajanian are co-owners with Boat of the team, which will be based in Phoenix.

Curb, Agajanian and Boat worked together with the team for which Boat drove and co-owned in the 2001 Indy Racing season. Boat finished a career-best fourth in the Indy Racing standings with the team despite a limited budget.

"Cary and Mike always had the desire to keep the team going into 2002," Boat said. "I think my desire was to bring something here to my community in Phoenix. I have tremendous resources at my disposal in this town and this community that I wasn't taking advantage of. I think there are a lot of assets here that help the team overall. Phoenix is a great sports town, and I wanted to bring an Indy team back into the mix with the other sports teams in town."

"Our goals for the team will be fairly conservative to start. Coming off a season like I had last year, I know that consistency is the key. We want to run up front, we want to have consistent runs and finish in the top five in races. If we can do that on a regular basis, we know we will have a good shot to win races."

Curb/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing will use a Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone technical package, and the team has hired the highly regarded veteran Darrell Soppe as the team manager and engineer.

"I know Billy is a great driver," Soppe said. "Obviously, he did a great job last year, fourth in points with a limited budget."

Curb Records will continue its Indy Racing involvement with the new team in 2002. Additional funding is being sought, especially from Boat's Phoenix-area business contacts. Boat owns a successful automotive exhaust business in Phoenix that sells products worldwide.

Curb/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing will operate from a new building next to Boat's business in Phoenix. The team plans to make its on-track debut during the Indy Racing League Test in the West on Feb. 6 at California Speedway and Feb. 8-9 at Phoenix International Raceway, Boat said.

In the meantime, Boat and Soppe will concentrate on building a championship-caliber team away from the traditional open-wheel hotbed of Indianapolis.

"It's a new experience," Soppe said. "I've started race teams in other cities, like Chicago, when we started the Newman-Haas team there. Once you get the people on board, it doesn't matter really where you do it.

"I personally like it because it's a little quieter. It's easier to keep things under your hat if you want to do development." Boat, 35, has made 47 career Indy Racing starts since 1997, with a victory, 26 top-10 finishes and eight poles. He earned his spot in Indy Racing after an outstanding career in short-track open-wheel racing in the West, including a record 11 consecutive USAC Western Midget Car Series victories and the series championship in 1995.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series Automotive , IndyCar