IRL: Cheever Fastest in Practice at Texas

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (June 7, 2002) - Eddie Cheever set the fastest lap of the day while practicing for Saturday night's Boomtown 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Cheever's best lap, set in the final practice session of the day, was recorded at...

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (June 7, 2002) - Eddie Cheever set the fastest lap of the day while practicing for Saturday night's Boomtown 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Cheever's best lap, set in the final practice session of the day, was recorded at 222.228 mph.

Cheever's teammate, Tomas Scheckter, who will start from the pole tomorrow night, set the third fastest lap of the day at 221.600 mph.

"We had a bad first session," said Cheever. "We had a bunch of problems with the T car, but the car ran well with the full tanks."

Scheckter's day was uneventful, especially after topping the speed charts this morning while scrubbing tires for the race. Despite recording only 16 laps, Scheckter's best in the morning session was a lap at 220.138 mph.

Second fastest on the day, and second in both practice sessions was Sam Hornish. His best was recorded at 221.990 mph, two laps from the end of this afternoon's final practice.

The top five speeds of the day came during the final practice session when all 24 cars are on track at the same time.

"As always it's busy as a hornet's nest out there in the last final session," Cheever said. "I spent most of the session trying to get away from the Panther car but it wasn't possible."

With so many cars on the track at the same time, it's hard to get a read on who is fast and who is getting a tow. And with the cars so evenly matched, it's hard to pick a favorite. Especially since TMS has produced so many close finishes.

"On race day everything gets jumbled around here," said Hornish. "You can go from first to eighth on the first lap or eighth to first."

Exciting open wheel racing has become a trademark of the high-banked Texas track but some drivers think it may be more difficult to pass this year. "The second groove is not going to be as easy as it has in the past," said Cheever. "If you're turning in at 224 (mph), 225, there's not much room. You really have to be confident that the guy on the inside knows that you're there."

"There should be a lot of wheel to wheel action," said current points leader Helio Castroneves, "it seems to be one of those races where we have to expect the unexpected."

Expect the unexpected, indeed.

Notes from the Boomtown 500 at Texas Motor Speedway:

Panther Racing announced today that Dan Wheldon would drive a second Panther Racing entry at the final two events of the 2002 season, the Delphi Indy 200 at the Chicagoland Speedway and the Chevy 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

***

Billy Bignotti, son of legendary Indy 500 mechanic George Bignotti, is now the mechanic for the No. 16 Star Registry car driven by Jon Herb.

*** Al Unser Jr. joins the bobblehead brigade as TMS General Manager Eddie Gossage announced today that the first 5,000 fans at September's Chevy 500 would receive Al Unser Jr. bobblehead dolls courtesy of TBC Indoor Kart Racing of Dallas.

***

Marlboro Team Penske always tries to retire race cars with a significant history. Helio Castroneves' 2002 Indy 500 winning car, which has never turned a wheel at any other track, has been pulled from race duty with the bodywork and gearbox out of circulation. The chassis may be used for testing while the team prepares a replacement. Castroneves is racing in his test car this weekend.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Jon Herb , Helio Castroneves , Dan Wheldon
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske