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IRL: Boat Earns Fourth Straight PPG Pole, Breaks Track Record

11 October 1998

Billy Boat
LAS VEGAS - Billy Boat earned his league-record sixth PPG Pole of the year, smashing his track record with a speed of 214.567 mph Saturday during Pep Boys Indy Racing League qualifying for the Las Vegas 500K at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Boat claimed his league-record fourth consecutive pole of the season in the Conseco Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt. Boat's streak began Aug. 15 at the Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo.

The Las Vegas 500K, a 312-mile race on the 1.5-mile oval, starts at 1 p.m. (PDT) Sunday.

By taking the pole, Boat helped teammate Kenny Brack in his quest for the Pep Boys Indy Racing League championship and the Pep Boys Million bonus. Brack leads the chase for the championship by 31 points over Davey Hamilton and 39 over Tony Stewart.

Boat earned three points for the PPG Pole, preventing either Stewart or Hamilton from taking those valuable points. Brack qualified sixth. "Anything I can do to take points away from (Hamilton and Stewart), that's my job," said Boat, from Phoenix.

Boat broke the track record of 207.413 that he set while winning the PPG Pole last year at this race.

Stewart qualified second at 212.934 in the Glidden-Menards-Special Dallara/Aurora/Firestone. He earned two bonus points.

Marco Greco was a season-best third in the International Sports Limited-Mexmil G Force/Aurora/Firestone at 212.331. Greg Ray was fourth at 212.272 in the TKM-Genoa Racing-Best Access Systems Dallara/Aurora/Firestone.

Brack qualified sixth at 211.715. He was allowed only one lap to qualify after his Power Team Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear initially failed pre-qualifying technical inspection.

"Our rear wing was a little high," said Brack. "It (failing tech) actually helped us. That reduces the drag. It's not often you get sent back and it helps you."

Brack can clinch the championship and the Pep Boys Million bonus by finishing ninth or better without collecting the two bonus points for most laps led, or 13th or better if he leads the most laps.

Hamilton struggled, managing only 13th at 209.383 in the Reebok-Nienhouse Motorsports Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear.

"The car was terrible, actually," said Hamilton. "We were going for a 213 (mph) run, but I knew by the second lap that that wasn't going to happen. We wanted to get the pole, now we're just looking for a good race tomorrow."

Hamilton must finish fourth or better to have any chance at winning the Pep Boys Million.

Leading Rookie of the Year candidate Robby Unser did not attempt to qualify in The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever G Force/Aurora/Goodyear due to an unscheduled engine change, and will start 27th in the 28-car field. Unser must finish 24th or better Sunday to clinch top rookie honors.

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