2001 Indy 500

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Stressful week

Spot in Indy field still in doubt for Boat

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Posted: Wednesday May 16, 2001 7:44 PM

By the Numbers
Category  Number 
Wins  0* 
Top 5s 
Top 10s 
Winnings  $1,269,100 
*Best finish: 3rd in 1999

PHOENIX (CNNSI.com) -- Billy Boat says that he knew he'd be struggling at the Indy 500 when he opted to drive for himself rather than for A.J. Foyt months ago.

"But I didn't think we'd struggle this much," he told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday in a telephone interview, having yet to qualify with only one slot still open for the 33-car field.

Foyt offered Boat a car, but then Boat learned that additional sponsorship was available for the Indy Racing League team he co-owns with Greg Beck, contingent upon his driving at Indy for his own team. So he had to tell Foyt no.

"I can't say I haven't thought about what could have been," Boat said. "But you can't second-guess the decision.

"The reasons I made this decision are still valid," he added. "We have the possibility of attracting more sponsorship and running the whole year."

That is, if he can make the grade now. The driver from suburban Glendale had a problem with the skid plate beneath the car in Sunday's qualifying, and the day was over before he could figure it out and fix it.

Now there's only one qualifying day left -- this coming Sunday -- before the May 27 race.

Boat said the team's main car has run over 222 mph, the level he figures probably is necessary to qualify, but now he needs it to run at that speed for four consistent laps.

"It's nerve-racking," he said. "I'm sweating it out."

Meanwhile, he added, he can't afford to run wild in the effort to straighten out the car "because we're somewhat in short supply of engines. We can't afford to put a lot of miles on.

"We're going to run," he said, "but we're going to run wisely."

Related information
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Rookie Mears still looking for speed
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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