Billy Boat Returns to Cockpit of No. 11 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Indy Car at Pikes Peak FOUNTAIN, Colo.: Aug. 3, 1998 - A.J. Foyt won't be the only one walking around the garage area at Pikes Peak International Raceway during the weekend of...
Billy Boat Returns to Cockpit of No. 11 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Indy Car at Pikes Peak
FOUNTAIN, Colo.: Aug. 3, 1998 - A.J. Foyt won't be the only one walking around the garage area at Pikes Peak International Raceway during the weekend of Aug. 16 with a noticeable limp. His driver, Billy Boat, will be hobbling right next to him as they prepare for the Radisson 200 on the one-mile oval in Fountain, Colo. But don't let appearances fool you. While these two might not be able to walk down pit lane very quickly, they know how to get around an oval track in an Indy car quicker than anyone else.
The Pikes Peak race marks the return of Billy Boat to the cockpit of the No. 11 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing car. Boat missed the IRL events at Dover Downs International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway because of a broken leg and cracked pelvis suffered in an accident during the New England 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway on June 28.
Only four weeks after surgery to repair the fractured leg with a plate and screws, Boat was driving the green Conseco Indy car again. His first time back in the cockpit was at a private test with the A.J. Foyt Enterprises crew at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week.
"It felt good to get back in the race car," Boat said. "Within five laps at Atlanta I was running 215 (average mph). I don't think the accident hurt my confidence at all. The only thing it does hurt is the longer you are out, the more apt you are to be a little rusty when you get back. That is why it was important to me to get back as quickly as I could."
Boat-who won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 and the True Value 500k at Texas Motor Speedway this year-should be running up front again at Pikes Peak. He still has two more test days scheduled with the team before they head to Colorado for round eight of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League Championship.
Although Billy Boat and the Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing crew promise to be a strong contender for the remainder of the season, they have to face the disappointment that the million dollar Pep Boys Championship is most likely out of reach. Going into the New Hampshire round of the series, Boat was second in the driver's championship, only two points behind. Now, with four races left in the championship, he is in 12th place 92 points behind the current points leader.
"Missing two races definitely hurt our chances to win the championship this year," Boat said. "Right now we have to just go out and try to pick up as many points in each race as we can. We have to qualify up front, finish up front, and complete every race. If we can do that, then that is the most we can ask for."
Since its inception, the Pep Boys Indy Racing League has seen some very exciting competition with numerous races showcasing several lead changes and late-race battles. Boat predicts the racing action to be just as thrilling on the Pikes Peak tri-oval.
"Pikes Peak is a place where you can really race well because you can run side-by-side." Boat said. "It was pretty challenging last year because it got slick. Knowing that, we'll come into it a little smarter. As long as you have a good race car all day long, you've got a good shot to win."
On track activity for the Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway starts on Friday, Aug. 14 with practice, and continues on Saturday, Aug. 15 with pole day. The 200-lap event on Sunday, Aug. 16 will be televised live on ABC at 4:00 p.m. (EDT).