Indianapolis, IN - 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. returned to the scene of his most celebrated victory this week to participate in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's open test and to serve notice that his ...
Indianapolis, IN - 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. returned to the scene of his most celebrated victory this week to participate in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's open test and to serve notice that his #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car will be one to watch when the Indy Racing Northern Light Series returns to the Brickyard in May.
Cheever topped the timesheets during many of the test sessions, and his quick lap of 222.162 mph placed him third overall behind reigning Indy Racing Champion Greg Ray (222.833mph) and Scott Sharp (222.343 mph).
"The test went very well, and we ran in the top-three for most of the week," commented Cheever, who is ranked sixth overall in the 2000 Indy Racing standings following third and tenth place finishes at Orlando and Phoenix, respectively. "We were able to put a lot of miles on the Infiniti Indy engine, and it was our first opportunity to gather data on our 2000 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone package at the Speedway."
"Our straightaway speeds are where we want them to be, and all the components are there," continued Cheever. "We haven't quite put together the perfect lap of Indy yet, but we're well on our way. The #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Team will return to test at the Speedway before the Indianapolis 500, which will allow us to fine-tune our race set-up further. If things continue according to plan - and I am confident that they will - I am very much looking forward to bringing the #51 Excite@Home Infiniti-powered machine into Winner's Circle on May 28."
The open test was also a chance for Cheever's younger brother, Ross, to participate in the four-phase Rookie Orientation Program, a prerequisite for competing in the Indianapolis 500. A veteran of Japanese Formula 3000 who competed against such Formula One standouts as Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, and Eddie Irvine in the ultra-competitive Japanese series, Cheever is serving as test driver for the Infiniti Indy 35A engine program.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunity that Infiniti and Team Cheever have given me to help develop the new engine, and being at the Speedway for the first time was an amazing experience," admitted Cheever. "It really is exhilarating to run at a track with such a fantastic history."
Team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. commended Ross for his efforts, noting: "Ross has done a phenomenal job as test driver, and we've been able to put many miles on the Infiniti engine. Ross is extremely talented, exceptionally fit, and highly motivated. We're still looking for sponsorship for the #52 Team Cheever entry, and completing the ROP puts us one step closer to achieving our goal of having Ross compete in the Indy 500."
Primary Sponsorship of the #51 Indy Car comes from Excite@Home. The company is based in Redwood City, California, at the heart of Silicon Valley. Associate Sponsors of Team Cheever include Indy Promotional Products, Menards, Ceramiche Ragno, Infiniti, Firestone, Bosch and Pennzoil.