Speedy Boat Docks On Pole
July 20, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Boat’s ninth career Indy Racing League pole came with a blistering fast lap of 22.9666 seconds, 203.774 mph.
The pole in the No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Infiniti came in the hometown of Boat's team co-owner, Mike Curb, and the Curb/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team's primary sponsor, country music giant CURB Records. It also culminated a perfect opening day for Boat, who led both practice sessions before qualifying.
"It's really good to be up front," Boat said. "It's been a long time since we've got a pole. It's great to get one here in Nashville, hometown of CURB Records. The weekend so far has just gone fantastic.
"We're just looking to capitalize on it tomorrow night. There's always a little bit of extra pressure because we have a lot of people here. We want to do well, and this is a good way to start it."
Boat led a list of 20 drivers who exceeded 200 mph during qualifying and broke the track record of 199.922 set last year by Greg Ray. Less than two-tenths of a second separated the top 13 drivers.
Series points leader Helio Castroneves qualified second at 23.0130, 203.363 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. Defending Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. was third at 23.0446, 203.084 in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet.
"Drivers always think they have a little bit more, and I think I could have taken the pole," said Castroneves. "I was hitting the rev limiter in fifth gear on the back straight, but I didn't want to take a chance on shifting. Now it's in the back of my mind, should I have taken the chance? But I'm happy to be on the front row."
Rookie Tomas Scheckter qualified fourth at 23.0560, 202.984 in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti, with Alex Barron rounding out the top five at 23.0599, 202.950.
Defending event champion Buddy Lazier was 12th at 23.1315, 202.322 in the No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet. Rookie Tony Renna, making his IRL debut, qualified 14th at 23.1797, 201.901 in the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet.
Final practice is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (CDT) Saturday. The Firestone Indy 200 starts at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) Saturday on the 1.33-mile concrete oval and will be televised live on ESPN2.