IRL: Cheever fastest at Chicagoland open test

JOLIET, Ill., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2001 - After track crews dried the Chicagoland Speedway from a torrential morning rain Aug. 2, Eddie Cheever Jr. quickly heated up the 1.5-mile track during the one-day Indy Racing Northern Light Series Open Test...

JOLIET, Ill., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2001 - After track crews dried the Chicagoland Speedway from a torrential morning rain Aug. 2, Eddie Cheever Jr. quickly heated up the 1.5-mile track during the one-day Indy Racing Northern Light Series Open Test in preparation for the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 2.

1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Cheever turned a lap of 24.9176 seconds, 216.714 mph in the last hour of the abbreviated test on the 1.5-mile oval. Cheever recorded 121 laps in the #51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Second to Cheever was Jeff Ward in the No. 35 Heritage Motorsports Firestone Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Ward produced a lap of 25.0863, 215.257.

Eight teams completed a total of 825 laps during the three hours of testing.

"It looked like the weather was going to get the best of the day before things cleared up," said Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League vice president of operations. "Once the track went green, the teams were all business. A lot of good laps were run with even a few full-tank runs completed. The Delphi Indy 300 is going to be a great event for the series."

Barnhart noted that teams and officials had similar feelings after a test at Kansas Speedway earlier in the year.

"According to track officials, the grandstands are going to be packed, and the facility is first class in every area," Barnhart said. "That combination inspires everyone to put on a good event, which I'm confident we will. Everyone is excited to come back here."

The eighth driver participating in the Open Test was rookie Scott Mayer, driving the No. 9 PDM Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Mayer completed his Indy Rookie test this week but has not been cleared to compete in Indy Racing events. He completed 58 laps Thursday.

The Delphi Indy 300 is scheduled for 4 p.m. (EDT) on ABC. Tickets for the weekend may be purchased at the Chicagoland Speedway ticket office, online at www.chicagolandspeedway.com <http://www.chicagolandspeedway.com> or by calling (815) 727-7223. <pre> Top laps with driver, time, speed and total laps for the day: Pos. Driver Time Speed Laps 1. Eddie Cheever Jr. 24.9176 216.714 mph 121 2. Jeff Ward 25.0863 215.257 67 3. Buddy Lazier 25.1652 214.582 107 4. Billy Boat 25.2557 213.813 118 5. Chris Menninga 25.5777 211.121 103 6. Rick Treadway 25.6902 210.197 113 7. Sarah Fisher 25.7196 209.957 138 Total......... 825* *Rookie Scott Mayer completed 58 laps. </pre> CHICAGOLAND OPEN TEST QUOTES:

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti Dallara/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "We're real happy with today's testing session. It's always great when you're the fastest. We ran three full -tank sessions today. It's incredibly smooth, and it's very easy to find grip on the track."

BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing champion): "We tested here earlier in the year with Firestone and did not get too many laps in. We would've liked to have been the fastest today, but the test was still very productive. The track is very smooth, which is favorable to Indy Racing."

JEFF WARD (#35 Heritage Motorsports Firestone Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The track is incredibly smooth, and it will make for some good side-by-side racing. I'm really happy with today's test. I came to shake the car down and to see how it would feel in traffic on this track. The testing session today will not only help for the Delphi Indy 300, but will help going into Kentucky."

RICK TREADWAY (#5 Meijer G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm really excited to be running in the Indy Racing League, and I'm proud of the job Treadway-Hubbard Racing has done. We weren't out to set any speed records. We just wanted to feel the track out and get the setup right. It's a fast, smooth racetrack with a lot of room, and it's going to make for a great race for fans."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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