Billy Boat completed his qualifying lap at time trials for the Belterra Casino Indy 300 today in a track record-breaking 221.364 mph in 24.0689 seconds, stealing the pole position from Sam Hornish, Jr.. Four drivers later, Sarah Fisher tapped him...
Billy Boat completed his qualifying lap at time trials for the Belterra Casino Indy 300 today in a track record-breaking 221.364 mph in 24.0689 seconds, stealing the pole position from Sam Hornish, Jr.. Four drivers later, Sarah Fisher tapped him out of the top position by only 2/1000th of a second.
"The CURB Records team did a great job, obviously," remarked Boat. "My guys anticipated the change in the racetrack and we totally went out with something we hadn't run since we'd been off the trailer. The racetrack was kind of a moving target, trying to find what was going to be the optimum setup and they did a great job of getting the car balanced to where I could drive it and still run the car flat. They really deserve the credit for this one because they gave me the race car, in those conditions that I could win with. My guys did a great job of anticipating things so that I had the optimal race car."
The CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team was scheduled to be the last car to make an attempt, but track conditions caused at least ten drivers to wave off their scheduled try and go to the back of the line and receive just one qualifying lap. Fisher completed her lap in 24.0661 seconds at a speed of 221.390 mph, capturing her first career pole and the first pole by a woman in a major-league open-wheel race in North America. (The only other woman who has won the pole for a major North American oval race was Shawna Robinson in a NASCAR Busch Series race in 1994.)
During a front-row press conference immediately following qualifying, Billy Boat was quick to point out some important similarities in the front row: both cars have Infiniti engines and both drivers are Americans with a Sprint/Midget car background. "I kind of compare [track conditions during qualifying] to when I raced midgets, and maybe that's why Sarah got the pole. You would go out early when the racetrack was wet on a dirt track, and the thing would come in as you ran on it. It was a similar situation today. We just kind of waited for the racetrack to come in, so it was a little bit of an advantage going later in qualifying. Both of our Infiniti engines [mine and Sarah's] have been running great and have been key to how fast we both have been today. The team just got beat. My guys did a great job. We're going to be starting up front, and the race is what we're concerned about. Sarah did a great job. She's been quick all weekend. We knew that if anybody was going to beat us, she was going to be the one."
As thrilled as Boat is, the early success is perhaps even more meaningful for Terry Wilbert, the team's Chief Mechanic. Wilbert is a Kentucky native and will be hosting a large group of family and friends at the race, "I've never raced here before -- just been a spectator. This is really exciting. It feels really good being in my hometown. My mom, dad, cousins, aunts and uncles are all coming to the race. I have an aunt & uncle coming from Ohio and an aunt and uncle coming from Minnesota. I was really hoping we'd do well, maybe a Top 5 start. Second is even better than that! I think it's time the CURB Records team wins a race and it'll be great to do it in front of my whole family."
After hearty congratulations, Billy Boat did take some good-natured teasing for "letting a girl beat him" today. He came back with a quick retort, "We can't complain, all I can say is that I got beat by the girl the least."
The CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team will compete in the Belterra Casino Indy 300 tomorrow, Sunday, August 11 starting at 1:30pm EDT. The race will be broadcast live on ABC television with pre-show coverage beginning at 1:00pm EDT on ESPN 2