IRL: Pikes Peak Saturday Report

David Reininger - Motorsport News International Fountain, CO (August 15, 1998) - Billy Boat will start from the pole position in tomorrow's Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Boat's qualifying speed of 178.571 mph was enough to...

David Reininger - Motorsport News International

Fountain, CO (August 15, 1998) - Billy Boat will start from the pole position in tomorrow's Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Boat's qualifying speed of 178.571 mph was enough to set a new track record on the one-mile oval, eclipsing the previous mark of 176.117 mph, set last year by Scott Sharp.

"The car was really the best it had been all weekend," Boat said. "We had a little cloud cover when we went out, and that might have helped. The car was perfect; I could run almost flat out all the way around".

Boat's crew streamlined his Conseco Dallara by taping over the fuel filler opening and any other intake opening that wasn't required for a two lap run at speed. Crews near the Foyt team in the qualifying line watched as the tape was applied, one car owner commenting, "I don't think that really helps".

Boat returns to Pep Boys IRL competition after missing the Dover and Charlotte rounds due to a broken left leg and fractured pelvis suffered in an accident at Loudon, NH on June 28. Boat said that he had problems with the clutch pedal the first few times he left the pits during testing two weeks ago.

When asked if he still had pain while driving the car, Boat answered, "It hurt a lot more when I was running 15th (yesterday) than when I was running at the front". A new seat has been made for Boat that will make him more comfortable in the car.

Jeff Ward found an extra five miles per hour overnight, turning the fastest lap in this morning's practice session at 178.227 mph. Ward backed up his 178 practice speed by qualifying at the same pace. Ward missed the pole by four one-hundredths of a second.

"We went up a little on the gearing," Ward said. "If we had stayed with the original gearing, we might have the pole. The track is perfect".

When the final checkered flag had fallen on qualifying, the top six cars had surpassed Scott Sharp's record from last year.

1998 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, Steve Knapp, is back in the PDM entry after missing the Charlotte round due to a concussion suffered at Dover. Knapp is the fastest rookie in the field turning in a qualifying speed of 173.661 mph. Knapp will line up on the outside of the seventh row alongside John Paul Jr.

Dr. Jack Miller was involved in the day's only incident when he spun in turn four. Miller did a half-spin, hitting the turn four wall with the left rear corner of the car. Miller climbed from the car unassisted and was unhurt except for a bruised ankle.

"I don't know what happened," Miller said. "It just came around. The team is getting a backup ready now".

Miller was examined by Dr. Henry Bock at the Infield Care Center and was released to drive. Without a qualifying time, Miller will start at the rear of the field.

The Radisson 200 takes the green flag at 2:05 p.m. MDT and will be televised live on ABC at 4:00 p.m. EDT.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Steve Knapp , John Paul , Jack Miller