IRL: Indy500: Infiniti first day of practice report

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 6, 2001) -- Infiniti drivers Eddie Cheever Jr., Scott Goodyear, and Robbie Buhl all placed in the top ten in practice today for the Indianapolis 500--with Cheever posting the second fastest lap of the day in the No. 51 ...

Indianapolis, Ind. (May 6, 2001) -- Infiniti drivers Eddie Cheever Jr., Scott Goodyear, and Robbie Buhl all placed in the top ten in practice today for the Indianapolis 500--with Cheever posting the second fastest lap of the day in the No. 51 Excite@Home Infiniti.

Cheever set his time early in the practice session, which started at 1:15 p.m. local time after the opening day celebrations. He held on to the fastest position until Greg Ray came out later in the day with a quicker lap. Cheever's 220.968 mph lap (40.73 seconds) was second fastest of the day when the track closed a few minutes early because of a thunderstorm.

Scott Goodyear, who has worked diligently the past several months as a test driver for the all-new Infiniti 35A engine, was fourth quickest of the day with a 220.084 mph lap. Robbie Buhl, in the No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Infiniti, was 10th fastest with a 218.203 mph lap.

Practice for the Indianapolis 500 on May 27 continues tomorrow from Noon to 6 p.m. (EDT).

Eddie Cheever Jr., No. 51 Excite@Home Dallara-Infiniti:

"I only ran for a couple of hours early in the afternoon, but so far, so good. We're using the same Infiniti engine that we had for the test here (in mid-April) and the #51Excite@Home car is fast on the straightaway. It's not as good as we want in in the corners. We tried some things on the car that didn't really work -- the back end is moving around too much -- and it was pretty windy. Of the three days we've run here this year, we haven't had one day with great conditions. Today it was windy and dusty, and everyone is still just getting settled in. You try really hard not to peak too early in the first week before you qualify, and there are a lot of things we are trying to learn. We have a good game plan and today was a very positive day for the Excite@Home team."

Scott Goodyear, No. 52 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara-Infiniti:

"We went a little quicker today than we did at the test here in April, and to have both Eddie and myself in the top-four on the first day is very good. I'm pleased with that. We had a couple of things when we first went out -- the back end was stepping out a bit -- but the guys corrected that in a hurry and we made a couple of other changes. Overall, I'm just delighted that both Eddie and I are in the 220s. I think we have more speed in there yet, so I've very pleased." On his chemistry with his Cheever Indy Racing crew: "I think it's really just a culmination of everything that we planned with having me do so much of the team's testing. Working with a group like Cheever Indy Racing has been great. I was very comfortable and found a very good home from the very first test we did in January. We gelled very quickly. It's been a delight to be able to work with guys like Eddie Cheever and Owen Snyder, and to have Dane Harte as my crew chief. It's given me a lot of confidence and made motor racing fun again. I'm enjoying it. We have a good nucleus here and a good package with Infiniti, Firestone, and Dallara, and everything is coming together at a nice pace. I think we're set to have a great month of May."

Robbie Buhl, No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing GForce-Infiniti:

"We are happy with our first day of practice for the Indy 500. We wanted to come out here and repeat what we did in testing here a few weeks ago. We did just that. If we could go out and do a 217 (mph, average speed) every day in a race mode, that's pretty good. That's what we need to be thinking about for the race. And then keep on working with the car to go faster for qualifying. It's hard for us to get excited, because our year has not gone how we want. In the last week, we've made some changes with the team and even though its been a lot of hard work everybody's attitude is good. It was nice to have everything go as planned today, and end up in the top ten, when we really weren't focused on speed."

-IM

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Robbie Buhl , Scott Goodyear
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing