IRL: Infiniti challenges for Texas win

Fort Worth, Texas (June 9, 2001) -- It was a double case of bad luck for Infiniti driver Eddie Cheever Jr. at the Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway June 9. Leading for 64 laps--and clearly one of the fastest cars on track--Cheever appeared...

Fort Worth, Texas (June 9, 2001) -- It was a double case of bad luck for Infiniti driver Eddie Cheever Jr. at the Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway June 9. Leading for 64 laps--and clearly one of the fastest cars on track--Cheever appeared to be on his way to victory when his plans were foiled. First by a flat tire and then when he was collected by a racing accident in the final laps.

Driving the No. 51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti, Cheever started from third place and went into race day owning the fastest practice lap of the weekend. By the third lap of the race, Cheever was leading for the first time with the all-new Infiniti Indy 35A engine, building a five-second lead before the second caution period on lap 73.

Just past the halfway point of the 200-lap event, Cheever was in second place, nose-to-tail with Greg Ray, when he was forced to pit for a flat tire. From one lap behind, Cheever charged through a field of 16 cars to once again fight for the lead in the final fifty laps. With 10 laps remaining, Cheever was racing side-by-side with Greg Ray and eventual race winner Scott Sharp. His day ended abruptly on lap 195 when the No. 51 car was collected by the spinning cars of Ray and backmarker Robbie McGehee. Cheever was unhurt and placed 12th in the unofficial race standings.

Starting eighth in the No. 24 Team Purex Infiniti, Robbie Buhl ran up front with Cheever, in the early laps of the race, placing Infiniti engines in first and second place from laps 44 to 58. Buhl eventually dropped out of contention with electrical problems, finishing 21st.

The Indy Racing Northern Light Series visits Colorado Springs next weekend for the Radissson Indy 200 on June 17. The event will be televised on ABC at 4 p.m. (EDT). Eddie Cheever Jr. won Infiniti's first race at Pikes Peak International Raceway last year.

Eddie Cheever Jr., No. 51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti: "The Infiniti engine was awesome today. If we hadn't had a tire puncture, we would have walked away with it. Even going a lap down, we came back strong. I thought we could have won easily. Everyone knows the Menards engines are great and the Ilmor engines are great. Well, guess what: Infiniti has a great engine too. It was a very exciting race, but this is not IROC. I like the guy in the #2 car, and I like the guy in the #8 car, but they can't drive like that. You can't be ducking and weaving and shoving people around. I got shoved below the white line and way up into the grey. It's irresponsible lunacy."

Robbie Buhl, No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing GForce-Infiniti: "We had a really good car. We were just trying to be patient. It looks as though we had alternator problems. We had to keep coming in to change batteries, and eventually ran out of batteries doing that. After awhile it is not worth the risk. We'll just keep at it. We showed them what we got. We'll go to Colorado and maybe have a little luck. This team is going to win races this year, I am just not sure when that will be, but hopefully sooner than later."

-IM

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