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The Callahan Report: Billy Boat Tops the Speed Charts at Indy

13 May 1998

By Terry Callahan
The Auto Channel
Billy Boat
Billy Boat
INDIANAPOLIS: As usual, the speeds rose during the traditional "happy hour" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today as the Pep Boys Indy Racing League teams continued practicing for the 1998 Indianapolis 500.

In the heat of the day, Billy Boat ran 221.691 mph. It was good enough to hold the fastest speed of the day. The quick speed was in his backup car. Boat also ran the third fastest speed of the day in his primary car. He toured the Speedway at 220.751 mph in the Number 11 Conseco sponsored Dallara/Aurora.

Boat compared the two cars. He said, "They seem to be very close in speed. We are still trying to get the handle on it a little bit (the primary car), but we believe it is going to be a good race car."

Boat and his teammate, Kenny Brack are working on qualifying and race day setups. With the reduced practice and qualifying schedule this year, the teams have been forced to work both issues. Boat and Brack have the advantage of being on A.J. Foyt's two-car team. They are approaching every practice session with a well thought plan. It is a cautious plan. "You might get in trouble running in traffic right now," said Boat who qualified for his first Indy 500 last year after Scott Sharp was injured in a practice crash. "We are playing it safe to make sure we have two good race cars for this weekend." He continued, "Most of our running has been about a 2/3 (fuel) load."

A.J. Foyt
A.J. Foyt
Boat continued talking about the setup of the car. He said, "We had lost grip from last month. We have made some changes to get it back." The graduate of midget and sprint car racing continued, "A.J. has a good eye and he can watch you. We talked at dinner last night. I made some changes today and I sped up."

Teammate Kenny Brack added, "A.J. has been here for forty years, so we benefit from that. He can relate to what a driver tells him." Brack, continuing his praise for his team owner said, "He knows what changes to make. He can make three or four changes at a time and the car will be faster."

Mother nature is a Pep Boys Indy Racing League fan. She is providing every possible weather condition for testing race cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

On Sunday it was sunny in the seventies. On Monday, the temperatures were the same, but the skies were overcast at times. Tuesday, it was more sun with temperatures in the high seventies. Wednesday, the sun was hot. The temperatures approached eighty degrees. Five degrees of air temperature can relate to a track temperature increase of over ten degrees.

The Thursday forecast is calling for an even hotter practice day. The skies will be clear and the thermometer will hit eighty-eight degrees. The same is expected for Friday. The teams have been taking notes on car setups, temperatures, and speeds all week.

Pole qualifying for the 82nd Indy 500 will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 16. The final day of qualifying will be on Sunday, May 17.

Top Speeds Today (May 13, 1998)

1. Billy Boat (Car 11T), 221.691 mph
2. Scott Sharp (Car 8T), 221.517 mph
3. Billy Boat (Car 11), 220.751 mph
4. Arie Luyendyk (Car 5T), 220.464 mph
5. Kenny Brack (Car 14T), 220.135 mph

Editors Note: The images displayed in this article are available for larger viewing in The Racing Image Galleries and The Visions of Speed Art Gallery