IRL: California: Infiniti Motosports qualifying ntoes

Cheever earns first pole for Infiniti at California FONTANA, Calif. (March 23, 2002) - Infiniti earned its first Indy Racing League pole position at California Speedway today with a 221.422 mph lap by Eddie Cheever Jr. in the No. 51 Red Bull ...

Cheever earns first pole for Infiniti at California

FONTANA, Calif. (March 23, 2002) - Infiniti earned its first Indy Racing League pole position at California Speedway today with a 221.422 mph lap by Eddie Cheever Jr. in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti.

Previously, Infiniti has scored the best qualifying result of second three times since its debut in the Indy Racing League in 1997. Robbie Buhl qualified second at Pikes Peak in 2000, and Eddie Cheever Jr. qualified second at Kansas and Chicago last season.

Cheever is also the only driver to have won with the Infiniti Indy engine, winning at Pikes Peak in 2000 and Kansas in 2001.

Three Infiniti-powered cars will start in the top five in tomorrow's Yamaha Indy 400. Tomas Scheckter qualified third with at 219.661 mph lap. It will be his third consecutive Indy Racing top-five start. Laurent Redon will start fifth with a qualifying run at 219.011 mph.

In his first race with the Infiniti engine, Shigeaki Hattori qualified 13th in the No. 12 EPSON/NISMO Bradley Motorsports Infiniti with a 217.808 mph lap.

On a less fortunate note, Robbie Buhl qualified fifth but will not be able to race due to injuries sustained during a crash on his cool-down lap. He was admitted to Loma Linda Medical Center and is reported to be in good condition having suffered from a concussion. Memo Gidley will replace Buhl in the Team Purex/Aventis Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry. It will be Gidley's Indy Racing League debut.

The Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway starts at 3:30 p.m. (EST) March 24. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN, with a pre-race show at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Live timing and scoring coverage is available on www.indyracing.com.

EDDIE CHEEVER JR., NO. 51 RED BULL CHEEVER RACING DALLARA/INFINITI/FIRESTONE:

"A large percentage of the time we did today can be attributed to the Nissan Infiniti engine. They have worked very hard. It's a big challenge to take on a company like General Motors. I think they have done a great job. Our mechanics have been flat out the past few months repairing cars so this is a big gift for the Red Bull Cheever Racing team. They were all working until 1 p.m. last night and looked beat when I went out to qualify, but afterwards they all looked like they drank about five cans of Red Bull. I am proud of what they have done." ABOUT ENGINE "Southern California is the headquarters of Nissan North America and they have battled long and hard to try to beat General Motors. It is a great day for Infiniti. We have totally redone the Infiniti engine this winter, trying to improve performance and reliability. Really this is the first big test where you will spend two hours on full throttle. Actually, this race will be harder on the engines than Indianapolis because at Indy there are times you breath and take your foot off the throttle. Tomorrow is an engine and aerodynamics day, and a lot of questions will be answered."

TOMAS SCHECKTER, NO. 52 RED BULL CHEEVER RACING DALLARA/INFINITI/FIRESTONE:

"I want to be on pole and that's what drives me is to win and to be in the front. I am very glad for Eddie; he has done a great job. Unfortunately this morning again, there was a problem with my #52 car and I had to jump to the T car. I just have to say thank you to the guys, they did a great job in managing to get the car off. The team has to be happy with both cars in the top three but as a driver you always want to be in front."

DENNIS REINBOLD, CO-OWNER, TEAM PUREX/AVENTIS DREYER & REINBOLD RACING:

"We're fortunate to have Memo in the back-up car. The team's performed well at this track, and we have confidence in Memo's experience to get us back to the front of the pack."

MEMO GIDLEY, NO. 24 TEAM PUREX/AVENTIS DREYER & REINBOLD RACING GFORCE/INFINITI/FIRESTONE:

"I hate that it's unfortunate for Robbie, because his car was clearly performing well. But for me, I'm used to stepping into these situations. I'm working very quickly to get up to speed with the team, and we'll be ready to go for the race tomorrow."

SHIGEAKI HATTORI, NO. 12 EPSON/NISMO BRADLEY MOTORSPORTS DALLARA/INFINITI/FIRESTONE:

"I'm pretty happy with the qualifying run. We had a little miscommunication on the fuel map, which probably cost us a half mile per hour. The Infiniti engine is very strong, and I want to congratulate Infiniti on their first pole in the IRL. I think we'll be strong in the race too. We've practiced with some fuel in the car, and the car is pretty good in the draft."

LAURENT REDON, NO. 34 MI-JACK/CONQUEST RACING DALLARA/INFINITI/FIRESTONE: "The car is running really good now. I could feel it a bit more this morning. We had a lot of yellows in the first session, so we didn't want to push it too much. I think we could've been a bit quicker, but the engine is good. The car is good, so I'm happy."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Shigeaki Hattori , Memo Gidley , Laurent Redon
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing