Eddie Cheever Jr. - ...
Eddie Cheever Jr. - #51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti
Indy Racing Northern Light Series - Round 8 of 13
Kansas Speedway - July 6-8, 2001
Ameristar Casino Indy 200
Laps led: 104
Cheever Claims First Victory For Infiniti 35A With Dominant Performance At Kansas
Kansas City, KS (July 8, 2001) - On a day when track temperatures reached 137 degrees and trackside readings soared to 98 degrees, Eddie Cheever Jr. scorched the new 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval to claim his first victory of the season and the first Indy Racing win for the new Infiniti Indy 35A engine.
Cheever, who earned the first win for Infiniti Motorsports with the previous version of the powerplant last season at Pikes Peak, started second and led 104 laps of the 200-lap event to become the inaugural winner of the Ameristar Casino Indy 200.
After out-classing the competition in every practice session in preparation for Sunday's event, Cheever continued to set the pace during the race, taking the lead on lap 33. The 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion was not seriously challenged until the last ten laps, when he briefly relinquished the lead to Sam Hornish on lap 190. Cheever regained the lead on lap 198 with a masterful pass in Turn 4 en route to the fifth victory of his Indy Racing career and his first on a 1.5-mile oval.
On the race: "I had a great run and it was a lot of fun. Today was phenomenal. It was the way IRL races should be. I had a superb engine with the Infiniti 35A, incredible tires with Firestone, and it was my day."
On the Infiniti Indy 35A engine: "It's a great day for Infiniti. We've worked very hard to get this engine up there and today it proved to be the best engine. I'm very proud for the Infiniti engineers. My engine was tremendous. I had an advantage today and it wasn't superior driving skill - it was the Infiniti powerplant in the back of my car. We worked hard to get that advantage. I can't thank the Infiniti engineers enough. From the first laps we were going for the win. We had the best equipment and not winning would have been unacceptable."
On his late race duel with Sam Hornish: "It was touch and go with Hornish. I didn't know if I could make it. We were both playing for the whole cake. I was racing against a driver who was hard and fast, but who was racing with a brain in his head. He was ethical. I had room, he had room, we both were going to see who was going to win and it was going to be fair. I will race Sam Hornish anytime, anywhere. I had so much fun racing with him. That kid is an unbelievable racing driver and he's fair. I wish more guys in the IRL would drive like he does."
On the heat and its effect on the tires: "I have never been in a racecar that has abused the tires as much as my car did here in Kansas. The tires are superbly engineered with a lot of safety factors built into them. I knew that I had good engineering behind me. When you're turning into a corner at 220mph and you know that your tires have their tongues hanging out because it's so hot, it's a good feeling to know you've got something safe underneath you."
On Cheever Indy Racing: "I have an incredibly talented group of mechanics and some great engineers. The guys did an awesome job today - my pit stops were impeccable. I have a phenomenal crew and they were really on their game today. Now if we can just win a few more, we can get back in the running for the championship."
On Indy Racing's debut in Kansas: "I really like this racetrack. It's good to be in Kansas. It's a great race circuit and Kansas has a lot to be proud of. I love racing in front of a packed house."
Associate sponsors of Cheever Indy Racing include Infiniti, Firestone, Menards, Bosch, True Grit, and Eviciti.