INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. turned an unofficial lap at 222 mph Tuesday, and rookie Shigeaki Hattori also participated in the final private testing session at the Indianapolis Motor...
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 24, 2001 - 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. turned an unofficial lap at 222 mph Tuesday, and rookie Shigeaki Hattori also participated in the final private testing session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 85th running of the classic auto race May 27.
Cheever, in an Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone machine, brushed off the significance of the speed.
"Unless we're all here, it doesn't mean anything," he said. "I look at those (previous) 216's people have been running and know the conditions are different. Every time we've run, there's been different wind conditions."
The Cheever Indy Racing team, which has also entered two-time runner-up Scott Goodyear in the "500," employs the new Infiniti 35A engine. Cheever said the engine is rating high marks.
"We only had the engine five days before Phoenix (the Indy Racing Northern Lights Series opener in March)," he said. "We had a good test at Richmond, a good test at Atlanta, a good test here. We have renewed technical enthusiasm from the Infiniti group of engineers. Nissan has put some resources into it. I feel like I'm managing a Formula One team now, not an IRL team.
"I'm 90 percent of where I want to be with the engine. We've caught up. Scott did a successful 600-mile test the other day, and the engine he used is the one I'll be running at Atlanta (this weekend). That engine still had a couple hundred miles to go on it.
"The first 500 miles we did were a nightmare -- things falling off, oil fittings cracked, an exhaust pipe cracked. Now, we've had 900 miles without a failure. We've had to do in two months what it normally takes six months to do, but the engine is no longer the primary focus of our race team."
Hattori, in an EPSON Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone entry, was taking his first laps ever in a Dallara chassis, which the Vertex/Cunningham team acquired from Della Penna Motorsports.
"We shook down this car," Hattori said. "It looked OK. I'm very happy with it. Our priority is to make sure everything in this car is OK. Step by step, we need to check everything. "I drove the G Force at ROP (Rookie Orientation Program) and did 215, and we want to find the differences in the G Force and Dallara."
The track is now closed to testing activity until official practice opens on Sunday, May 6. Three rounds of qualifying are scheduled the following two weekends, with Coors Carb Day on Thursday, May 24 and Race Day on May 27.