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Indy 500 pole qualifying rained out

May 10, 2003 at 4:53 PM   |   Comments

INDIANAPOLIS, May 10 (UPI) -- The rains came just in time Saturday to wash out pole qualifying for the 87th Indianapolis 500.

While Pole Day was postponed until Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the rain came a bit too late for Billy Boat, who was involved in a vicious crash that sent him to Methodist Hospital.

Boat was released after he was examined following the Saturday morning practice crash. According to Dr. Henry Bock, Indy Racing League director of medical services, Boat will be re-examined Sunday morning at the infield medical center before he can be cleared for pole qualifying.

Boat's crash came on the frontstretch during the hectic morning practice session. Severe thunderstorms were on the horizon, but IRL officials were hoping the Speedway would dodge the inclement weather.

Boat's car hit the fourth turn and began to spin before making contact with the attenuator that protects the abutment to the pit wall. The car became airborne before landing, spinning and coming to a stop. Boat complained of pain between his shoulder blades.

Shortly after the crash, heavy rain and lightning forced the IRL to scrap qualifying. Practice will begin Sunday at noon EDT, with qualifying set for 2 p.m. It will continue until the 7 p.m. gun is fired.

It was the first time Pole Day has been completely washed out since 1990 and it left many of the competitors feeling disappointed.

During practice, Scott Dixon turned a lap at 233.236 miles per hour, making it the fastest at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1996.

"I got a tow off one of the Penske cars that brought that number up," Dixon said. "Still, we're pretty confident. We were fairly decent yesterday as well. We did our time in the heat of the day by ourselves.

"Obviously, the weather conditions this morning when we first went out were a little better, which is probably when we picked up the speed. We trimmed out the car a little more. We were just playing it safe, getting some good laps and making some decent changes. Now is the time when you start to show your hand."

NASCAR Winston Cup regular Robby Gordon had the second-fastest lap Saturday at 232.959 mph in a Dallara/Honda. His rookie teammate at Andretti/Green Racing, Dan Wheldon, was third at 231.955 mph in a Dallara/Honda, followed by Gil de Ferran (231.288 mph) and Kenny Brack (231.362 mph).

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was hoping to add an Indy 500 pole to his list of impressive accomplishments. But that will have to wait at least one day.

"Obviously, I'm a little disappointed we couldn't qualify this afternoon," Castroneves said. "It's my birthday today, so I was hoping for a special present. Maybe it's best this way because now I can try to earn the pole for my mom on Mother's Day."

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk was cleared to drive after crashing Friday in the Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone.

Tony Kanaan also is hoping for success Sunday. He was leading the Indianapolis 500 last year before his car hit a patch of oil and crashed into the wall.

Last month, Kanaan suffered a fractured left arm in a crash with Dixon at the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300.

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