Red Bull Cheever Infiniti Racing Concludes 2001 Testing Program at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2001) -- The Red Bull Cheever Infiniti Racing team finished their rigorous fall testing program at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this week.
Since the final race of the 2001 Indy Racing League series, the team has completed nearly 2000 miles of testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"The past two months we focused on testing at circuits that were a problem for us in this past year's championship," said Eddie Cheever Jr., owner and driver, Red Bull Cheever Infiniti Racing. "The Infiniti 35A engine arrived just days before the start of the season, so we had to go back to some of those ovals to understand some issues before the winter break. As for testing at California Speedway, we needed to establish baseline in preparation for our first race there in March.
"The most difficult circuit for us was Homestead," continued Cheever, "but we managed to do okay in the end. We gathered some useful information and now we are done for the time being, so Happy Holidays and we'll see you in January."
At the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway the Red Bull Cheever crew completed 560 miles with both Eddie Cheever and current Dayton Indy Lights Championship runner-up Dan Wheldon behind the wheel of the #51 Red Bull-Cheever Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone car. Cheever was the fastest of the pair, recording a quick lap of 197.2 mph, which was two miles per hour faster than his qualifying time at the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami in April. Wheldon drove 180 miles in his first Indy Racing League test, topping out in the 188 mph range.
"Danny drove on the first day of the test when the handling of the car was horrific," said Cheever. "He did everything we requested of him, including keeping it off the wall. I only did a 191 mph lap that day, so considering everything he did a great job on his first Indy car test."
Wheldon's test was part of the team's exhaustive search for a second driver for the recently announced two-car Red Bull Cheever Infiniti Racing team for 2002. The team also tested IRL standout Jeff Ward, and 2000 Toyota Atlantic champion Buddy Rice at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
"We hope to select a second driver before the end of January," said Richard Caron, general manager, Red Bull Cheever Infiniti Racing. "We are not only looking at the drivers we tested but several others as well. It is a very hard decision because there are so many good drivers on the market right now."
The interview process for a second driver not only includes scrutiny of the drivers on track but also a controlled physical workout to test each driver's overall fitness and stamina.
"We are looking for a driver that can hit the ground running," Cheever said. "To be competitive in the Indy Racing League today, you need more than just talent. You have to want to do everything necessary to win, and a strict physical fitness regiment is a good indication of that desire."