Infiniti Indy and Team Cheever kicked off the new millennium by completing more laps than any other driver at the Indy Racing League Open Test at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 5 and 6. Defending race winner Eddie Cheever Jr., with some help from his younger brother Ross, racked up a total of 396 trouble-free miles with the new 3.5-liter Infiniti Indy engine.
While most drivers at the Open Test were outfitted with new 2000 chassis, Team Cheever tested with a 1999 Dallara because they have not yet received their 2000 Riley & Scott chassis. As a benchmark, Eddie Cheever Jr. was the fastest driver of the field using a '99 chassis.
With a 163.736 mph lap, Cheever was ninth fastest of the 15 drivers that participated in the two-day test on the one-mile tri-oval located on the property of Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla. Ross Cheever--who completed 72 laps in the same car--was only slightly slower with a 161.936 mph lap.
The 2000 Indy Racing League season kicks off at the Walt Disney World Speedway from Jan. 27 to 29. The Delphi Indy 200 will be televised live on ABC on Sunday, Jan. 29 at Noon (EST).
Frank Honsowetz, manager, Infiniti Motorsports: "We are pleased with the results of our last two tests of the 3.5-liter version of the Infiniti Indy V8. We've gained valuable data from the team and will combine that with Eddie's input to improve the engine's performance before the race."
Eddie Cheever, Jr., driver, No. 51 Team Cheever 99 Dallara/Firestone/Infiniti: "We have done 396 miles on this engine. This is now the second engine we have run over 250 miles with no problems. I am anxiously waiting the next version of this engine as it seems that we have the reliability back where we need it and now, we can refocus on power issues. At the end of the last test, I thought the old car (the '99 Dallara) would be competitive. Now we must reassess our plan and will be anxiously watching Buddy Lazier's performance in the Riley & Scott over the next two days. (Lazier's team will be testing the first of the 2000 Riley & Scott chassis.)"
Ross Cheever, test driver, No. 51 Team Cheever 99 Dallara/Firestone/Infiniti: "Obviously, my focus is on getting as many miles in the car as possible. Having raced in sports cars most my life, I am still getting acclimated to these speeds. Owen, Dane and Eddie are making my entry very easy. They have an incredible ability to communicate everything to expect before I get there. It is the difference between going through a tunnel with lights or without! To be a competitive driver, it takes more than your own ability and confidence. It is also who you have behind you. It makes my job very easy when I am surrounded by professionals like these guys."
Test Results - Best Time of Each Driver During Two-Day Test
1. Greg Ray, 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, 168.445 mph (Wed.) 2. Stephan Gregoire, 2000 G Force/Aurora/Firestone, 167.887 (Thurs.) 3. Scott Sharp, 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, 167.333 (Wed.) 4. Buzz Calkins, 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, 167.069 (Wed.) 5. Robby McGehee, 2000 G Force/Aurora/Firestone, 166.984 (Thurs.) 6. Mark Dismore, 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, 166.752 (Wed.) 7. Donnie Beechler, 2000 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, 165.960 (Thurs.) 8. Al Unser Jr., 2000 G Force/Aurora/Firestone, 164.979 (Thurs.) 9. Eddie Cheever Jr., 1999 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 163.736 (Wed.) 10. Sam Schmidt, 1999 G Force/Aurora/Firestone, 163.347 (Wed.) 11. Ross Cheever, 1999 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 161.936 (Thurs.) 12. Jeff Ward, 2000 G Force/Aurora/Firestone, 161.696 (Wed.) 13. Sam Hornish Jr., 1999 G Force/Aurora/Firestone, 161.681 (Wed.) 14. Jon Herb, 1999 G Force/Aurora/Firestone, 159.553 (Thurs.) 15. Doug Didero, 1999 Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, 157.791 (Thurs.)