IRL: Boat fastest at Richmond Thursday practice

RICHMOND, Va., Thursday, June 28, 2001 - Billy Boat cut his racing teeth on short tracks in the West, and that experience proved valuable June 28 as he led the first day of practice for the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International...

RICHMOND, Va., Thursday, June 28, 2001 - Billy Boat cut his racing teeth on short tracks in the West, and that experience proved valuable June 28 as he led the first day of practice for the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway.

Boat was fastest at 16.7514 seconds, 161.181 mph on the ¾-mile oval in the No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. His fast lap came during the evening practice session.

"Right now I think the track's cooled off," said Boat, who won 11 consecutive USAC Western States Midget features in 1995. "It's definitely got more grip. It's probably more like the conditions we're going to see at the start of the race. It's not the conditions we're going to have for qualifying.

"We ran a little of qualifying (setup) early, then we went to full tanks to try to get a balance on our race car."

Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. was second fastest today at 160.852 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. was third at 160.805 in the #51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Rookie points leader Felipe Giaffone was fourth at 160.006 in the No. 21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone while 2000 Rookie of the Year Airton Dare was fifth at 159.879 in the No. 88 1-800-BAR-NONE G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

This is the first Indy Racing event on a track shorter than 1 mile. The track record of 131.374 set by Randy Tolsma in 1996 in a USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series car will be erased during MBNA Pole Qualifying at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) Friday. Practice sessions will start at 12:30 and 7 p.m. Friday.

The 250-lap race starts at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Veterans Sarah Fisher and Donnie Beechler were unhurt in separate accidents today.

Fisher was released from Memorial Regional Medical Center in Richmond after precautionary X-rays were negative. She hit the outside retaining wall during the afternoon practice in the No. 15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone and complained of neck pain.

Beechler hit the outside retaining wall during the second practice in the No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. He climbed from the car without assistance and was evaluated and released from the infield medical center.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Felipe Giaffone , Eddie Cheever , Billy Boat , Airton Daré , Donnie Beechler , Randy Tolsma , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.