IRL: Atlanta Qualifying Report

HAMPTON, Ga., Aug. 28, 1998 - Billy Boat won his second consecutive PPG Pole since returning from a broken leg and fractured pelvis, taking the top spot for the Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI on Friday night with a fast lap of...

HAMPTON, Ga., Aug. 28, 1998 - Billy Boat won his second consecutive PPG Pole since returning from a broken leg and fractured pelvis, taking the top spot for the Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI on Friday night with a fast lap of 224.145 mph at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Boat won his fourth Pep Boys Indy Racing League pole of the season in the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. His fastest lap around the 1.54-mile quad-oval was a track record, smashing the previous record of 197.478 set by Geoff Bodine during NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying in November 1997. 1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Boat missed the Pep Boys 400K on July 19 and the VisionAire 500 on July 25 due to injuries suffered in a crash during the New England 200 on June 28. But he won the PPG Pole in his comeback race, the Radisson 200 on Aug. 16 at Fountain, Colo. "Our team puts a lot of emphasis on qualifying because it not only pays money, but it also pays points," Boat said. "And right now, we need both of all we can get of each." Boat earned a $20,000 bonus from PPG for winning his second straight pole. Jeff Ward qualified second at 223.973 mph in the Thermo Tech Technologies-Prolong-Superflo-ISM Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear. Points leader Scott Sharp was third at 223.837 in the Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Kenny Brack, winner of the last two Pep Boys IRL races, qualified sixth in the A.J. Foyt Power Team Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear. Brack is just one point behind Sharp in the season point standings. The inaugural Atlanta 500 Classic presented by MCI starts at 9 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. It's a 208-lap race. Foyt's team overcame an alternator problem to put Boat on the pole. Boat was scheduled to be the first qualifier, but the team pulled toward the rear of the order so it could fix the problem.

"With the alternator problems we had, we didn't get a chance to work on the gears as much as would have wanted to," Boat said. "So we hit the rev limiter. I think that was moving the car. With the problems we had, we are pleased to be up front."

Defending league champion Tony Stewart qualified 25th in his Glidden-Menards-Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, the worst start of his Pep Boys Indy Racing League career. His previous worst start was 14th at the Pennzoil 200 in August 1997 at Loudon, N.H. Stewart is third in the standings, six points behind leader Sharp.

Mark Dismore, fastest during Thursday's practice, qualified fifth at 223.161 in his Kelley Automotive Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Kenny Brack , A.J. Foyt