IRL: Gateway: Cheever Racing race report

Finally finishing: Rice is fourth, Cheever 10th at Gateway. Something new for Red Bull Cheever Racing. Finishing. Buddy Rice finished fourth and Eddie Cheever Jr. finished 10th Sunday in the Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway, ...

Finally finishing: Rice is fourth, Cheever 10th at Gateway. Something new for Red Bull Cheever Racing. Finishing.

Buddy Rice finished fourth and Eddie Cheever Jr. finished 10th Sunday in the Gateway Indy 250 at Gateway International Raceway, starting a new era for a team that had struggled to finish races this season.

This time, Rice challenged the leaders -- Helio Castroneves and eventual winner Gil de Ferran -- late in the race after a strong pit stop vaulted him from seventh place to fourth. He moved as high as third, marking his third consecutive strong finish with the Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti-powered Dallara.

"We used the same strategy we have in both other races," Rice said. "We went out, ran hard and put ourselves in position to stay with the lead pack. We came in for the last stop and had a real solid pit stop."

It was the first time this season that a Red Bull driver has finished three consecutive Indy Racing League events. Rice finished second in his first race with the team -- July 28 at Michigan -- then finished 12th at Kentucky. He'll compete with the team in the final two IRL races of the 2002 season -- Sept. 8 at Chicagoland Speedway and Sept. 15 at Texas Motor Speedway.

"We are working on finishing out the season at the next two rounds with solid performances for the Red Bull Cheever Racing team," Rice said.

Cheever marveled at the effort of his new protege, then indicated he's considering bringing Rice back for the 2003 season.

"Buddy did a phenomenal job," Cheever said. "I was watching him in the race. He took a car that should have finished eighth and finished fourth. Three races, and three finishes. That is a new record for Red Bull Cheever Racing. We are pleasantly surprised with Buddy."

Cheever had the fastest lap in the morning practice, but lost a lap after his car slid high on a restart. He faded back, then worked his way into the top 10.

"On a restart I got up high, got in the dirt and just got killed," he said. "It took me a lap and a half to recover and I lost a lap in the process."

Rice's finish marked the fourth time this season that Red Bull Cheever Racing has finished among the top five. The 25-year-old former Toyota Atlantic champion showed his skill in chasing the leaders late in the race. 

"We had an awesome pit stop at the end there," he said. "Everyone was fairly even on new tires. We were a little bit better in clean air. Once we moved to the front we sat there and waited for someone to make a mistake and then got on by. We tried to capitalize on mistakes that others would make since our car was so good."

Red Bull Cheever Racing, based in Indianapolis, is the brainchild of 1998 Indy 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. A leader in American motorsports, the Indy Racing League team is built on Cheever's experience in Formula One, sports cars and open-wheel oval racing. Corporate and technical partnerships with the world's leading energy drink Red Bull, Nissan North America's Infiniti Division, TWR Group, and Lincoln Financial Group greatly enhance the team's resources and technology. For more information, visit www.cheeverindyracing.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Buddy Rice