IRL: Indy500: Bump Day

Indianapolis 500 Bump Day Ken Plotkin - Indianapolis, IN, May 21, 2000. Today was a busy - and nerve-wracking - day for Billy Boat. He crashed his ...

Indianapolis 500 Bump Day

Ken Plotkin -

Indianapolis, IN, May 21, 2000. Today was a busy - and nerve-wracking - day for Billy Boat. He crashed his #81 Team Pelfrey car during an early afternoon qualifying attempt. Finding a new ride in A.J. Foyt's #41, he gained a position the field in late afternoon qualifying run, only to be bumped minutes later. On the last run of the day, he bumped himself and A.J. Foyt's #11T into the field for next Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

Boat's bump day odyssey began during the second lap of his run in his primary #81 car. The car stepped out as he entered Turn 1, then spun into the outside wall. Billy, unhurt, climbed out of the car and began looking for another ride.

Eventually, someone suggested he talk to A.J. "He said if I wanted to come run it, just to come and let him know and get in." The car was the Foyt/Brack #41, which Roberto Guerrero had been unsuccessful at getting up to speed earlier in the day. Boat took up Foyt's invitation, running a dozen laps in the car and getting over 219 mph.

Boat and Foyt pushed the #11 into line during the final bumping frenzy, taking the run at 5:18 pm. The first two laps were good. Then something went wrong, and the second and third laps were dismal. Among a confusion of electrical gremlins (the dash flicked off on the third lap) and timing and scoring (did the team wave the yellow?), the run stood as official at 192.105 mph.

The 11T was quickly pushed into line, and hit the track at 5:59 pm. The final gun went off as the car was warming up. With no laps in the car, he went for it. "Pulling out like that, going out for the Indy, if you want to make the show you've got to stand up in your seat and put your foot in it."

When the smoke (and methanol fumes) cleared, he ran a four-lap average of 218.872 mph, good enough for the inside of the 11th row.

Foyt said that the decision to help Boat was simple. "I've got a lot of respect for him. I know he'd do the same thing for me or one of my kids. I think Billy has that respect for me, too."

Boat's drama was only part of the action on Bump Day. Fifteen cars made successful qualifying runs, vying for the ten spots remaining after Saturday's Pole Day runs. Five of those cars were bumped in the final half hour.

Raul Boesel was first to qualify, with a fresh engine in his #55. His speed of 222.113 mph put him on the outside of the eighth row, ahead of the rest of the second day qualifiers. "It means a lot. I have been close to winning this race several times. It is history to me. I can tell my kids this is my twelfth Indy 500."

Boesel's performance earned him the $10,000 MBNA Motorsports "Fastest MBNA Bump Day Qualifier" award.

Jimmy Kite made the field in his new #27, originally entered as Jimmy Vasser's #10 primary and purchased from Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. "I've got to thank Chip Ganassi and everybody at Ganassi Racing for giving us the opportunity that they didn't have to give us, especially with them coming inhere from CART and them being the outcasts. It shows what a class act they are."

Lyn St. James qualified with a solid 218.826 mph run in the final frenzy, putting her in the middle of the eleventh row, next to Billy Boat. With Sarah Fisher qualified in the seventh row on Saturday, this running of the 500 will be the first to have two female drivers.

Davy Jones, making his first Indy car appearance since being injured in the 1997 Walt Disney World race, had a successful qualifying run of 214.932 mph, but was bumped from the field by Scott Harrington's run. Harrington was then bumped by Jeret Schroeder.

When the 6:00 gun sounded, Roberto Guerrero and Scott Harrington (in his T- car, attempting to regain a place in the field) were left stranded on the qualifying line. The "Man on the Bubble", outside the eleventh row, is Andy Hillenburg, with a speed of 218.285 mph, slowest in the 33 car field.

Four drivers - Billy Boat, Stan Wattles, Doug Didero and Hideshi Matsuda - contacted the wall during practice or qualifying runs. Boat, Wattles and Didero were not injured and were cleared to drive. Matsuda was admitted to Methodist Hospital with a fractured right wrist and fractured left knee. He will undergo surgery tonight. An update on his condition will be issued Monday morning.

The next track activity will be Carburetion Day, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on Thursday, May 25. That will be the final practice before the race.

The 84th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place next Sunday, May 28th. Leading the field will be a front row of Greg Ray, Juan Montoya and Eliseo Salazar.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eliseo Salazar , Billy Boat , Jeret Schroeder , Roberto Guerrero , Jimmy Kite , Raul Boesel , Andy Hillenburg , Scott Harrington , Davy Jones , Stan Wattles , Chip Ganassi , Matsuda Hideshi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing