<pre> Qualified: Tenth Lap 1: 221.032mph Lap 2: 221.413mph Lap 3: 221.370mph Lap 4: 221.261mph Average: 221.270mph 40.675 seconds </pre> Indianapolis, IN...
Lap 1: 221.032mph Lap 2: 221.413mph Lap 3: 221.370mph Lap 4: 221.261mph
Average: 221.270mph 40.675 seconds
</pre> Indianapolis, IN - 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion Eddie Cheever Jr. notched the tenth-fastest time in Saturday's PPG Pole Qualifying for the 84th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28. Cheever's strong run in the Infiniti-powered #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car marks his fourth top-ten qualifying effort in eleven successful attempts, and his best starting position since qualifying fourth in 1996.
Cheever (On his qualifying run): "We were a little conservative with our qualifying set-up. There was probably a bit more left in the #51 Excite@Home Infiniti - about half a mile an hour - but we have not been focusing on qualifying at all. What you saw out there today is what we have. That was the same spec engine I'll be racing with. We've said all along that we'd be happy to be in the first three rows, so we're looking good. We won from further back (seventeenth) in 1998."
(On the conditions): "It was a lot of fun out there today. The conditions were really very nice, there was no wind, and I was driving those whole four laps with a big smile on my face. Until today, we had been fighting with the wind the whole time we've been here. What we have not had is heat, so if raceday is hot, everybody will have to start all over again."
(On the difference between his 1998 Indy 500-winning team and his 2000 effort): "When we won the Indy 500 in 1998, we were a dramatically underfunded team. We were living on prize money and I had some very motivated employees who got everything right. We beat big teams that spent ten times more money than we did. Now, we have a lot of support from Excite@Home, and we have worked very closely with Nissan and Infiniti. We've reached a point where I think we can go head to head every weekend with any race team out there. If I were to compare the team we had in 1998 with the team we have now, I would say we have double the capacity to solve problems. We have the same group of people, but it's like the team has been given a shot of testosterone: we're meaner, nastier and trimmer. Come Sunday, if you're going to win, you're going to have to beat us." (On the performance of the Infiniti engine): "I believe we have the best race engine out there. I had the best race engine in Orlando, I felt I was stronger than anybody else in Phoenix, and I very, very close to (then race leader) Mark Dismore when we had an electronics problem at Las Vegas. People have to understand that other teams have a minimum of $500,000 invested in their engine inventory, and it's very hard to take those assets and dump them to move to Infiniti. However, I believe that when the 35A Infiniti engine comes out, there will be a lot of Oldsmobile engines on the market."