IRL: Indy500: Billy Boat caps dramatic Bump Day

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 21, 2000 - Billy Boat used sheer determination to qualify for the 84th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday on the final attempt before qualifications ended, a dramatic finale to MBNA Bump Day at Indianapolis Motor ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 21, 2000 - Billy Boat used sheer determination to qualify for the 84th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday on the final attempt before qualifications ended, a dramatic finale to MBNA Bump Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Twelve cars joined the 33-car starting field in a tension-filled day of qualifications, as nine cars qualified in the final 63 minutes. Five cars were bumped from the field in the last 26 minutes. Boat, from Phoenix, capped a frantic day by earning a spot as qualifications closed at 6 p.m. (EST). He recorded a four-lap average of 218.872 mph in the #11T Rio A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, but not before three previous attempts resulted in frustration. After waving off his first qualification attempt Saturday in his regular ride for the 2000 season, the #81 Team Pelfrey Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, Boat went out for a second qualification attempt at 12:07 p.m. today. On his second lap, the car did a quarter-spin in Turn 1 and hit the outside retaining wall with the left rear of the car. He walked away uninjured. Then A.J. Foyt Racing - for which Boat drove from 1997-99 - came to the rescue. The Foyt team prepared Jeff Ward's backup car, the #41 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Boat. Indy Racing Northern Light Series veteran Roberto Guerrero had attempted to qualify the car twice before, leaving only one qualification attempt left for the car. Boat qualified at 192.105 in the #41 car at 5:18 p.m. but was bumped from the field just 16 minutes later by Lyn St. James. This left only one option for Boat and the Foyt team, owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. They frantically prepared Eliseo Salazar' s backup car, the Rio A.J. Foyt Racing #11T. Boat left the qualification box in the #11T at 5:59 p.m. on his successful run. "That car had never turned a wheel," Boat said. "It had never turned a lap. It was actually like a shakedown run. I really have to give a hand to the A.J. Foyt crew. A.J. said, 'It's going to be the same as other ones. Go out and stand on it.' "I've got to thank Team Pelfrey. I feel bad. You just can't let this place get the best of you." Foyt said the decision to help Boat was simple, given his admiration for the driver. "Billy, I've got a lot of respect for him," said Foyt. "When I saw him in trouble, I knew he'd do the same thing for me or one of my kids. I think Billy has that respect for me, too." Boat earned one victory and eight pole positions during his career with A.J. Foyt Racing, including the PPG Pole for the 1998 Indianapolis 500. St. James became part of history by qualifying 32nd in the #7T Yellow Freight Systems/Dick Simon Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone at 218.826. St. James and Sarah Fisher, a 19-year-old Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie, are the first two female drivers to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in the same year. Raul Boesel was the first driver to qualify today with an average speed of 222.113 in the Treadway Racing #55 EPSON G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, earning Boesel the $10,000 MBNA Motorsports "Fastest MBNA Bump Day Qualifier" Award. Rookie Jaques Lazier also qualified early in the day, at 12:44 p.m., at 220.675 in the #33 Miles of Hope/Truscelli Team Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. He will start 26th. Jimmy Kite was next at 2:53 p.m. in the #27 Founders Bank Group/ZMAX/Blueprint Racing Special. Kite turned in an average speed of 220.718, good for 25th starting position. Following Kite was Davey Hamilton, who qualified 28th at 219.878 in the TeamXtreme/Lycos G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Hamilton preserved his streak of starting in all 38 events in Indy Racing League history. The majority of teams waited until late in the day to make a qualification attempt, causing a frenzy of qualification activity for the final hour and a half of qualifications. Johnny Unser was the first late-day qualifier at 4:37 p.m., earning 30th position in the starting field with an average of 219.066 in the #22 Delco-Remy/Microdigicom/Homier Tools G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Andy Hillenburg followed Unser with a 218.285 in The Sumar Special #48 Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Hillenburg, an Indianapolis native, gave a tearful interview after his run. Other qualifiers were Steve Knapp, the 1998 Bank One Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. Knapp qualified the #24T Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone in the 27th spot at 220.290 and will be a teammate to Robbie Buhl, the current Northern Light Series points leader. Jeret Schroeder qualified 29th at 219.322 in the Kroger/Tri Star Motorsports Inc. Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone about three hours after his qualifying engine failed in practice. Drivers Robby Unser, Scott Harrington, Dr. Jack Miller and Davy Jones also qualified Sunday but were bumped from the field. No drivers who qualified Saturday were bumped. The #20T Hubbard-Immke Motorsports entry, driven by Hideshi Matsuda, did a half-spin during practice at 4:04 p.m., hitting the Turn 3 outside retaining wall with the left side of the car. Matsuda, who crashed Saturday without injury, was admitted to Methodist Hospital in good condition with a fractured right wrist and left knee. Doug Didero and Stan Wattles were unhurt in separate incidents. Wattles crashed the primary car in which he qualified eighth Saturday. The Hemelgarn/Metro Racing crew will repair Wattles' car in time for final practice for the Indianapolis 500 on Coors Carb Day from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (EST) Thursday.

-IRMLS/IMS-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Robbie Buhl , Eliseo Salazar , Jeff Ward , Davey Hamilton , Billy Boat , Jaques Lazier  , Roberto Guerrero , Jimmy Kite , Raul Boesel , Andy Hillenburg , Lyn St. James , Steve Knapp , Scott Harrington , Davy Jones , Stan Wattles , Johnny Unser , Robby Unser , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt , Matsuda Hideshi , Jack Miller
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing