IRL: Texas: Billy Boat qualifying report

Sixth row start for Boat at Boomtown 500. Despite losing an engine early in the day, the CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team rallied back and qualified 11th for the Boomtown 500. A speed of 216.468 mph and lap time of 24.1976 earned Billy Boat...

Sixth row start for Boat at Boomtown 500.

Despite losing an engine early in the day, the CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team rallied back and qualified 11th for the Boomtown 500. A speed of 216.468 mph and lap time of 24.1976 earned Billy Boat a starting position on the inside of Row 6 for this Saturday night's race.

Billy Boat commended his team for their hard work getting ready for qualifying, "The CURB Records team did a great job of getting our engine changed and getting the car ready so that we could go out for the second practice session. We're not quite as far up the speed chart as we'd like to be, but we've got a competitive race car and we're going to be able to hang on in the draft.

Warm, humid weather with a slight breeze during the day led to a stickier and hotter evening. The thick air, change in air temperature and lack of wind was definitely a contributing factor to car speeds slowing this evening, compared to the afternoon practices.

Says Boat; "The CURB Records team did a pretty good job tonight. In comparison to some others, we slowed down less than a lot of the other guys, so we'll just have to focus on the race and see what happens."

As one of only three nights races in the season, the Texas race is always a fan favorite. It's also one of Billy Boat's favorites. Infamous for its fast speeds and side-by-side racing, the 1.5-mile oval has proven good luck for Boat. He had his first IRL win at the Texas Motor Speedway, has taken the pole and holds the pole speed record at 225.979 mph. "This is going to be one of those classic Texas battles, side-by- side with packs of 10-12 cars. The trick is making sure that the race car stays in there with the draft and that's really going to be our focus. I think these Nissans are going to be pretty tough so we're just going to have to see what they've got when they come out."

Rookie driver Tomas Scheckter with a speed of 220.146 in 23.7933 seconds took the MBNA pole. Scheckter is the first rookie to win the MBNA Pole since Billy Boat did so in 1997 at Las Vegas. He will start the race next to teammate Eddie Cheever, Jr. - this is the second straight year that the front row will be comprised of teammates. Al Unser, Jr., Laurent Redon and Helio Castroneves round out the Top 5. Gil de Ferran will start on the outside of Row 6, next to Boat.

With a 24-car field that is separated by only .9356 of a second, Boat is realistic about his expectations for the race, "This place is always a freight train and a drafting-type race, so we'll just have to make sure our car is good in traffic and then draft our way to the front."

The Boomtown 500 will air live from the Texas Motor Speedway this Saturday, June 8 at 8:00pm EDT on ESPN.

-cabir-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Billy Boat , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Laurent Redon , Al Unser