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Another Prime-Time Victory for Boat at Ventura

March 30, 1995|DARIN ESPER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VENTURA — Television cameras seem to bring out the best in Billy Boat.

One of Boat's two 1994 United States Auto Club Western States Midget victories came in front of ESPN cameras at Ventura Raceway, and the racer from Phoenix won again Wednesday night before a crowd of 1,548 with a wire-to-wire victory in the 30-lap feature race--which was taped for broadcast tonight.

Boat, who finished second in the 1994 Western States Midget points standings and started on the pole, did not have an easy job of it, although defending series champion and fast-qualifier John Cofer was knocked out of contention on the first lap in a fourth-turn collision involving five cars.

Defending national champion Tony Stewart--a three-time winner at Ventura in 1994--was on Boat's tail for the entire race, and had two close attempts at passing Boat for the lead.

"I just had to assume that (Stewart) was right behind me and run as hard as I could," Boat said. "If you let up, even for a second, it's all he needs to get past."

Boat held off Stewart by taking the high line through the banked corners, a route that had revealed itself during the 12-lap semi-main, won by Ron "Sleepy" Tripp.

After fighting it out on the inside in between five caution periods, Ron Shuman and Tripp both went high on the banked curves for the final two laps, with Tripp barely edging Shuman at the finish.

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