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IRL: Billy Boat Ready For First Indy Car Race at Hometown Track

13 March 1998

Phoenix, Ariz.: March 13, 1998 - The Dura-Lube 200 on March 22 will mark Billy Boat's first Indy car event at his hometown track, the Phoenix International Raceway. Driving for team owner A.J. Foyt, Boat will pilot the hunter green No. 11 Conseco Dallara/Aurora on Goodyear Racing Eagles in the second of 11 races in the 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League series.

Billy Boat at Indy, 1997
Billy Boat at Indy, 1997
"I have had a lot of firsts at Phoenix International Raceway," Boat said. "It would be great if I had my first Indy car win at PIR in front of my family, friends and hometown crowd."

Boat's first Pep Boys Indy Racing League victory is expected to happen soon. With seven IRL events under his belt, Boat has already scored several top finishes in his short Indy car career. Last year, he finished seventh in his debut race, the Indianapolis 500. He also scored two second-place finishes (Texas and Charlotte), a pole position (Las Vegas), and two fastest race laps (Charlotte and Las Vegas).

Car Owner, A.J. Foyt
Boat promises to be quick at PIR as well. The IRL's "Test in the West" in late February, showed that the Dura-Lube 200 is going to be a fight to the finish. Seven drivers unofficially broke the track record of 170.012 mph and less than one second separated the top 17 drivers participating in the test. Boat was one of the top runners in the test, posting the third quickest time of the event (20.962 seconds, 171.739 mph).

An Indy car victory at PIR would be an ideal setting for Boat, who was not only born and raised in the Valley of the Sun, but also grew up racing sprints and midgets there. He has raced USAC midgets, USAC Silver Crown, sprint cars and Indy Lights on the one-mile Phoenix oval. His success at PIR includes winning the Copper World Classic midget event in 1996 when he passed Kenny Irwin on the last lap of the last corner to take the checkered flag.

"That single win, more than anything else, helped propel me to the IRL," Boat said. "It proved that I could win races on big, paved race tracks. If there is any down side to the races that I have run before, it was that they were on dirt tracks. That victory solidified my position in the industry because it caused people to realize 'hey this guy can race on pavement too.' "

The schedule of events for the Dura-Lube 200 at Phoenix International Raceway starts with practice on Friday, March 21. Qualifying starts at Noon (MST) on Saturday, March 22 and will be televised live on Speedvision. ABC Sports will televise the 200-mile Phoenix event live starting at 2:00 p.m. (MST) on Sunday, March 22.

Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Team Notes

Boat Autograph Signings in Phoenix: Billy Boat will be signing autographs at the following Phoenix area Pep Boys stores: Monday, March 16 at 6311 West Bell Road in Glendale from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Tuesday, March 17 at 1233 Country Club Drive in Mesa from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday, March 18 at 2424 McDowell in Phoenix from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

A Family of Racers: Billy Boat is not the only member of his family who races. His brother, Mike, races sprint cars and will be racing at Manzanita Speedway on Saturday evening, March 21. Boat's 11-year-old daughter, Trisha, and his five-year-old son, Chad, race quarter midgets in the Phoenix area.

Boat's Community and Business Involvement in the Phoenix Area: Boat owns B&B Fabrication, a metal fabrication/manufacturing shop specializing in Porche, BMW, Corvette and other high-performance automotive exhaust systems which are sold all over the world. Boat is also a spokesperson for the City of Glendale anti-speeding campaign, "It's our town, please slow down," and produced a public service announcement about family safety for the Phoenix American Red Cross.

Editors Note: The images displayed in this article (plus many more) can be viewed in The Racing Image Galleries and The Visions Of Speed Art Gallery.