Last Chance For Victory
September 24, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Boat, tied for fourth with rookie Felipe Giaffone in the IRNLS points standings entering next weekend’s Chevy 500, is having a career year, and he has a chance to overtake Scott Sharp for third in the standings at Texas.
“As far as off track, this last race of the season will quite possibly play a key factor in where we end up in the championship,” said Boat, driver of the No. 98 Dallara-Aurora. “We're in fourth place now, but only 20 behind third place and only 19 ahead of fifth. If anybody has a big stumble, it should really benefit the others, so everything is going to be critical – especially preparation.”
With so much on the line, Boat can find confidence in his team and past performances at Texas.
The Beck Motorsports crew has come together quickly in its first year with Boat, and it shows on the track. He has been running at the finish of all but one of the 12 races this season, and he has four Top 5s and eight Top 10s to show for it. The only mechanical failure the team has suffered was at Richmond. Boat sees the team’s reliability as a huge factor in his success.
“That's been the main key to our success this season, and the crew has done a phenomenal job under some difficult circumstances,” Boat said. “We've felt all along that we have what it takes to win one of these races, and we feel just as strongly about that going in to Texas.
“Achieving that goal in the last race would be the perfect end to the season, especially with how it would boost us in the points and position us going into next year.”
Boat has received that boost before at Texas.
He won his only IRNLS race at the 1.5-mile, high-banked track in 1998, and he finished fifth there in June. He’s also led 119 laps at the track and won one pole there.
“Texas Motor Speedway is a place I've always run well at, including my win and pole there in 1998, and we ran well there last June - starting 10th and finishing fifth,” Boat said. “So we're really looking forward to going back and having another good run.”
With Texas having a history of producing some of the best races in the IRNLS, Boat predicts much the same Sunday afternoon.
“I expect a typical Texas race with close competition, a lot of tight racing, lots of drafting and having a tough time finding much open racing room,” he said.
Open racing room may be hard to find, but Boat will probably be easy to spot. He’ll be up front, mixing it up with the leaders like he almost always finds a way to do at Texas.
The Chevy 500 is scheduled to get the green flag at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Oct. 6.