IRL: Phoenix: Cheever Indy Racing race report

Scheckter, Cheever's Front Running Efforts Foiled at Phoenix Tomas Scheckter had a strong start in the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, working his way up to third place by lap 33 in the No. 52 Red Bull ...

Scheckter, Cheever's Front Running Efforts Foiled at Phoenix

Tomas Scheckter had a strong start in the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, working his way up to third place by lap 33 in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti. Running behind Sam Hornish Jr., and eventual race winner Helio Castroneves, he was on his way to another strong finish in his rookie IRL season before being sidelined by an engine failure on lap 41.

Starting 16th, Cheever charged to 10th place by the second lap of the race in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti. He was in the top ten until the second round of pit stops when the team's pit strategy put him in the lead for 10 laps. On the lap 104 restart he was taken out of contention when a car spun in front of him, starting a multi-car accident.

Dick Caron, General Manager: "I think the guys did a great job preparing the cars for this weekend. Eddie did a good job working through traffic and Tomas' car was perfect before he went out. It was a costly weekend for the team, especially with two DNF's in a row for Eddie. We just need a break from the racing gods."

Eddie Cheever Jr. on Race (Started 16th, Finished 15th):
"The car in front of me started spinning and I slowed down to avoid the car. I thought I made it through and then I got hit from behind by Sharp and knocked into the next car. Sharp must have seen it later than I did. It's a pity. The Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti was going very well. It was getting better and better as the race progressed. It's a bad start to the championship for the team."

Eddie Cheever Jr. on Season:
"It's a horrible start of the year. I have been knocked out of both races from other people's mistakes. I know that stuff happens, but two for two is ridiculous. We've gone really well with the Infiniti engine on the large ovals and the Red Bull Cheever Racing team had a good test in Fontana. I hope that California Speedway is big enough that everybody can avoid running into me."

Tomas Scheckter on Race (Started 5th, Finished 24th):
"The Red Bull Cheever Racing car was good. The Infiniti engine was unbelievable in the beginning. I am just sorry for the team. They worked very hard this weekend. I made a few clean passes and worked my way back from sixth to third, and was pulling away. The car was really good. It's unfortunate we couldn't make it to the finish."

Crew Prepares For California Speedway:
The Red Bull Cheever Racing crew has a busy week ahead of them preparing for the changes required for racing on the one-mile Phoenix International Racing oval to the two-mile California Speedway.

Dick Caron, general manager, said: "The configurations of the Phoenix and California ovals are about as opposite as they come. California is a low downforce track, which requires low drag. Phoenix is a high downforce track, with lots of drag and an emphasis on handling more than power. The setup is completely different going from Phoenix to California. The suspension, wings and gears all need to be changed on the cars. It's a good two or three days worth of work."

Eddie Cheever Jr. on California:
"The California Speedway is a great circuit and this will be the first race for the IRL. The series is really gaining intensity. We have ten guys out there that are convinced that they should be the one winning every race in the series. When that happens, it leads to a lot of excitement.

"I have always thought that California is a really cool place. The fact that we get to race on the west coast is great. It's a relatively new circuit, without much history, but I am sure that it will catch on. It's a big, fun, fast, American race track and it's in California."

Tomas Scheckter on California:
"I was quickest at Fontana in the test, but I think the race is going to be a massive race, with lots of stuff going on. I am just looking forward to racing in California. The Red Bull Cheever Racing team is working unbelievably well and the Infiniti engine was awesome in our test at California Speedway. I am looking forward to a good run. I really just want to win for Red Bull, Infiniti and the team."

U.S. Marine to Assist with Cheever's Race Day Pit Stops:
U.S. Marine Corporal Leonard E. Uitenham, of Jacksonville, NC, will join the Red Bull Cheever Racing crew on Sunday to assist with Eddie Cheever Jr.'s pit stops during the IRL race at California Speedway. Uitenham was invited as part of a promotion by the team to thank the men and women serving in the armed forces.

Red Bull Cheever Racing will invite members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to be a part of the crew at each Indy Racing League event leading up to the Indianapolis 500. Cheever was the last American driver to win the Indianapolis 500, and hopes to bring the title back to an American champion in 2002.

Race Highlights:
1) Helio Castroneves, Dallara/Chevy
2) Gil de Ferran, Dallara/Chevy
3) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara/Chevy
4) Eliseo Salazar, Dallara/Chevy
5) Al Unser Jr., Dallara/Chevy
15) Eddie Cheever Jr., Dallara/Infiniti
24) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara/Infiniti

Race Information
Round three of the 15-race Indy Racing League series takes place next Sunday, March 24 with the Yamaha Indy 400 at California Speedway. The race will air live on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. (EST). Practice starts on March 22, with qualifying for the MBNA Pole scheduled for March 23.

Red Bull Cheever Racing, based in Indianapolis, is the brainchild of 1998 Indy 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. A leader in American motorsports, the Indy Racing League team is built on Cheever's experience in Formula One, sports cars and open-wheel oval racing. Corporate and technical partnerships with the world's leading energy drink Red Bull, Nissan North America's Infiniti Division, TWR Group, and Lincoln Financial Group greatly enhance the team's resources and technology. For more information, visit www.cheeverindyracing.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Eliseo Salazar , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Sam Hornish Jr.