Boat rides the 'bubble' to success. Billy Boat will start the 86th Indianapolis 500 from the middle of the 8th row between Richie Hearn and fellow Arizonian Arie Luyendyk. Boat solidified his position when rain washed out the last 69 minutes ...
Boat rides the 'bubble' to success.
Billy Boat will start the 86th Indianapolis 500 from the middle of the 8th row between Richie Hearn and fellow Arizonian Arie Luyendyk. Boat solidified his position when rain washed out the last 69 minutes of qualifying along with the Indy 500 racing hopes of veteran drivers Jimmy Kite and Donnie Beechler. For all the talk of "Billy the Bubble Boy", Billy Boat was actually only "on the bubble" for one attempt today - rookie Oriol Servia waved off after two laps at 226.6 mph -- ironically enough speed to bump Boat from the field.
The notoriously unpredictable weather in Indianapolis in May has played a role in the CURB team's strategy since Pole Day. "When you go back to Pole Day," says Boat, "when we took that qualifying speed, we felt that weather was going to play a factor into who would get into this year's race. That's one of the reasons we took the speed that we did." But when the rain still hadn't materialized by mid afternoon, Boat started to worry, "Not only were we praying and the whole team was praying, the entire state of Arizona was praying. It's probably 105 degrees (there) today, but they were praying for rain."
This is the third year in a row, that Billy Boat has experienced high drama on "Bump Day" for the Indianapolis 500. After a long, stressful week and an even longer, more emotional day, at around 3:00pm, things were looking bleak for the CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team. As the day began, the weather was clear and the strong winds that had plagued cars all week had died down. To make matters worse, during morning practice, the #98 did a quarter-spin to the left exiting Turn 2 and made contact with the SAFER Barrier. There was damage to the left front and left rear of the car. Billy Boat climbed from the car without assistance, was examined at the infield medical center by Dr. Henry Bock, released without injury and cleared to drive. The CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team spent the rest of the morning feverishly trying to repair the damaged car and have it ready, just in case it was needed to bump the team back into the field.
During a press conference immediately following the checkered flag, Billy Boat made sure that one message was clear, "I really have to thank the entire CURB Records team -- the #98 crew. They did a tremendous job getting the race car back together after we crashed this morning. They are really a great bunch of guys and really it's a pretty new team. We have three new rookie guys from Phoenix, and this is their first 500, and I think they're learning in a big way how much this race means and what it means to be in the starting field."
The CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team includes: Darrell Soppe, Terry Wilbert, John Jones, Eric Johnson, Brian Szczepkowski, Bryan Fisher, Billy Smith and Kevin Conley with help from Scott Passmore, Butch Lynch, Paul St. Clair and Bob Pullinsi.
"Looking back," says Boat, "it really wasn't that bad. Although we probably cleaned out the Zantac and antacid supply at the track, it's still better to be sitting on the grid after 6:00pm and in this great race than to know that I'll have to watch the race from home."
Team co-owner Cary Agajanian looks to the future, instead of looking behind, "We will have better fortune, and we'll be back up on the front row one of these days, but I don't know how long I can take this. But that's what makes this the greatest race in the world."
Now, after an agonizing week of watching and waiting, the serous business of racing can begin for the CURB/Agajanian/Boat team. "We're going to be looking for comfort and consistency over flat-out speed and that's where my car has been great all week. The competition level this year is immense. It is such a deep field; the winner could come from anywhere. Pit stops and fuel mileage are going to be big factors," said Boat.
The CURB Records team has one final practice session, this Thursday, May 23 at 11:00am -- Coors Carb Day, the traditional final practice before the race.