Yeah, this is one of my favorite episodes despite all of the glaring problems.
In order for the Bozeman to be caught in this loop, it needed to collide with the Enterprise D. So... it was in this just as long as the Enterprise. The initial impact is what caused the loop to happen. The distortion caused the Bozeman to jump forward in time, so they weren't stuck in a loop for decades.
No way to leave a pod behind. As soon as the loop restarts, the pod is back in the bay.
I think you're absolutely right Trekker4747, that the air from the shuttle bay wouldn't have been enough to push the Enterprise out of the way.
The thing that always bugged me about this episode is that once the Bozeman is spotted, there is quite a bit of time wasted debating about what to do. In my version, Data would have sent a message to himself, some number or symbol that would have an association with the tractor beam [at least in Data's neural net]. The idea being that he use the tractor beam ASAP. Data would have known it to be right move and not wasted time considering Riker's suggestion. Get that tractor beam in action about 15 seconds or more ahead of when they actually used it in the failed loops and it would have been enough for the Enterprise to clear out of the way of the Bozeman.