For Immediate Release CHEEVER TO TAKE SIMPLE ROAD TO SUCCESS AT INDY 200 LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 13, 1998 - It's hard to blame Eddie Cheever Jr. for taking a simple approach to success in the Indy Racing League during 1998. ...
For Immediate Release
CHEEVER TO TAKE SIMPLE ROAD TO SUCCESS AT INDY 200
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 13, 1998 - It's hard to blame Eddie Cheever Jr. for taking a simple approach to success in the Indy Racing League during 1998. After all, the offseason was pretty complicated at times for the IRL's premier owner-driver. Team Cheever underwent many changes after the 1996-97 IRL season ended last October. Cheever's relationship with two racing team partners dissolved, his primary sponsorship ended, and he made the switch from G Force to Dallara chassis. "Racing is a very simple business that a lot of people try to make complicated," Cheever said. "It's public knowledge that we had a lot of internal problems last year inside of the team. But we've got a lot of that out of our system. We're still looking for a primary sponsor. You always strive to be better, but we're at a very good point now." Indeed. Cheever, from Tampa, Fla., enters the season-opening Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway Presented by Aurora as the defending race champion. He also has been among the quickest drivers during preseason test sessions on the 1-mile oval in his Team Cheever Dallara/Aurora. There's good reason why Cheever should contend for the 1998 IRL championship despite the team's offseason changes. The strength of any race team starts with its organization, and Team Cheever has one of the best managers in racing, Dick Caron. Caron built Team Cheever into a solid unit last year, as Cheever finished fourth in the IRL points standings in his first year as an owner-driver. His victory at the Indy 200 Presented by Aurora was one of five top-10 finishes last year. "I think it really starts from the top down," Cheever said. "Dick Caron is the one who put the team together last year and this year. Our company is only as good as the people we have in it." Cheever's talented crew will aim for more mechanical consistency this season. Cheever completed 1,485 laps in 1996-97, fifth-best among all IRL drivers. But he finished only five of 10 races. "Last year, we did well in the races," Cheever said. "We lost a lot of them for silly mechanical errors. If you dot all the I's, cross all the T's and get everything right, if your pit stops are good and you don't make any stupid mistakes, you can be very competitive." Staying competitive in races remains a key goal for Cheever. But he also must look at a bigger picture than other drivers - he must balance race-by-race performance with the long-term success of his racing team. That's not so simple. "I have more than one responsibility here," Cheever said. "So I think a lot of the decisions you make really are going to influence not only if you win the championship but if you're going to be in business two years from now. I like working with a small group of people. I like the fact that we are racing in a series that has so much ability to grow. I'm very happy." INDY 200 PRESENTED BY AURORA NOTES One step at a time: Although winning the IRL championship is Eddie Cheever Jr.'s goal this year, he admits that he rarely thinks about the title when devising strategy. "I never sit down and look at the championship," Cheever said. "It's like looking at a roulette table and saying, 'Well, I'm going to get a 7 this time and an 8 the next.' You can't. I set the car up every time so during the last 50 percent of the race, it's strong. We're ready for that." *** Sharp driving: Scott Sharp became a primary target of his IRL rivals after recording an unofficial track record for the new IRL cars of 20.967 seconds, 171.698 mph Jan. 9 during testing at Walt Disney World Speedway. Sharp, in just his second day with new team Kelley Racing, broke the unofficial record of 21.21, 169.651 set by Scott Goodyear in December 1996 during a Goodyear tire test. Defending Indy 200 Presented by Aurora champion Eddie Cheever Jr. thinks that the trend set by Sharp's fast lap could be a rule, not an exception, during this year's race. "We've seen big jumps in speed this year because people are starting to think with their oval hats on," Cheever said. "It's an imperfect art that you're trying to get as efficient as you can. I think to just go about it as this is all we're going to do, ovals, you try to understand the physics of it. So you're always learning." *** On the airwaves: The live television and radio broadcast schedule for the Indy 200 Presented by Aurora, Chevy Trucks Challenge and USAC Silver Crown Championship races: .Jan. 17 (2:30 p.m., ESPN2): USAC Silver Crown qualifying race and main feature race, Chevy Trucks Challenge qualifying race. .Jan. 18 (noon, ESPN2, MRN Radio): Chevy Trucks Challenge race. .Jan. 23 (noon, Speedvision): Indy 200 Presented by Aurora qualifying. .Jan. 24 (noon, IMS Radio Network; 12:30 p.m., ABC): Indy 200 Presented by Aurora race. *** Tickets: Tickets for the Jan. 24 Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway Presented by Aurora are available by calling Ticketmaster, (407) 839-3900 (Orlando) or (813) 287-8844 (Tampa).