Race Finish: 3rd (.245 seconds behind race winner Scott Goodyear, .095 seconds behind second-place Eddie Cheever, Jr.) (Ft. Worth, TX) - Working traffic and the highbanks of Texas Motor Speedway like an expert, Billy Boat charged straight to...
Race Finish: 3rd (.245 seconds behind race winner Scott Goodyear, .095 seconds behind second-place Eddie Cheever, Jr.)
(Ft. Worth, TX) - Working traffic and the highbanks of Texas Motor Speedway like an expert, Billy Boat charged straight to the front to finish third in today's Excite 500.
After starting 22nd, Boat had knocked off 12 of his competitors by lap five to land solidly in 10th running almost the entire race between positions eight and 13.
"When we got to 10th real quick early on in the race, that's pretty much when I knew that we had a frontrunning car, but I didn't think it was enough to lead," Boat explained about his thoughts early in the race. Drafting is key at Texas Motor Speedway, and Boat knew he needed to surround himself with some friends early on if he was to have any chance at getting to the front. "I needed to run with someone. As long as I had a partner, I knew I could go to the front. Different people helped me all day - I ran with Jaques Lazier a lot. The rain that was coming didn't affect me too much. I just knew I had to get to the front as quickly as possible. We came from 22nd, and it was refreshing to be able to run at the front and really do some racing."
With new power supplied by Speedway Engines, on loan from rival Panther Racing for this race, Boat's strong setup combined with terrific pit work gave him his best finish of his 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season.
"I really have to give a hand to the guys in the pits," Boat said. "They did a really good job, and it was especially a good day because they've never worked together before. The car was pretty good all day. It was a little loose at the start up high, but it came in at the end. Really, no problems at all."
Boat tested earlier in the year with Panther Racing, which allowed him to form a bond with the team, leading to Panther's help with Team Pelfrey's engine program for this race. "I want to credit John Barnes (team manager and co-owner of Panther Racing) and Panther Racing. They did a great job for us and let us have a good race."
With his fourth-place finish, Hemelgarn Racing's Buddy Lazier clinched the driver's championship and the $1 million prize that goes with it.
"I want to congratulate Buddy (Lazier) and his team," Boat said after climbing from his "pumpkin car" (car was painted orange for this race to celebrate the Halloween season). "He ran hard all day, and he's a deserving champion."
This was the last race of the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series. The 2001 season kicks off in Boat's hometown of Phoenix on March 18 - a special race weekend showcasing not only the sleek Indy cars of the IRL, but USAC Midgets, Silver Bullet cars, and the outrageous supermodifieds supplied by Davey Hamilton's Supermodified Racing League.