IRL: Atlanta Cheever's string of top ten starts ends

Eddie Cheever Jr. - ...

Eddie Cheever Jr. - #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car
Midas 500 Classic - Atlanta Motor Speedway
Indy Racing Northern Light Series - Round 7 of 9
July 13-15, 2000 - Friday Post-Qualifying Notes and Quotes

<pre> Practice: 23rd 207.804mph 25.986 seconds Qualified: 14th 209.709mph 25.750 seconds


Hampton, GA - After encountering a clutch problem and fuel pump leak during Thursday's first day of practice for the Midas 500 Classic, #51 Excite@Home driver Eddie Cheever Jr. endured further mechanical difficulties on Friday. When an alternator problem brought a premature end to Cheever's Friday practice session, the #51 Excite@Home team performed a quick engine change prior to qualifying.

Cheever qualified fourteenth, the first time this season that the 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion has started outside the top ten. Cheever, who claimed the first Indy Racing victory for the #51 Excite@Home team and the Infiniti Indy engine at Pikes Peak in June, currently leads the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series standings with 176 points.

Eddie Cheever Jr. (on his qualifying run): "For the last two weeks the #51 Excite@Home team has put a lot of effort into trying to improve our qualifying effort but obviously a little more work needs to be done. Still, our qualifying run was almost as fast as what we did in testing here two weeks ago, and it was the best lap we've done by ourselves this weekend. We've had a very bad few days. First we had a clutch problem, then we had a fuel pump leak, and right before qualifying we had an alternator problem and changed the motor. That seemed to help, and I think we have a very good race engine."

(On Atlanta Motor Speedway): "This is a very unique track. You don't really fall into the banking like you do at Texas. The fact that there is less banking at Atlanta makes it more difficult. There are really two lines here - maybe three, if you're desperate. As you move up the track, the risk increases. If guys are running three abreast and you're in the middle, it's extremely uncomfortable."

(On racing at night): "It really isn't that dark. Actually, there are enough lights around here that you could probably get a suntan in the infield at night. The biggest thing about racing at night is that when you look in your mirrors, instead of seeing light behind you, you see a dark spot. However, driving in Atlanta in the daytime in July is not something that I would like to do. It's nice to race here at night. Our cars handle better when it's cooler, but above all we're here for the fans. I can't think of a better way to spend a summer night in Atlanta than watching twenty-five maniacs duke it out at Atlanta Motor Speedway."

(On the importance of the draft): "This is the first track that the Indy Racing series competed at where the outcome of the race was determined by how well you could work the draft. Atlanta is very similar to Daytona in that sense. When I raced in the IROC event at Daytona, I couldn't believe the difference it made when you got out of the draft. It's exactly the same for the Indy Racing cars at Atlanta."

Dick Caron, #51 Excite@Home team manager (on Friday's practice session): "We were four-tenths slower than when we tested here two weeks ago, so when we had an alternator problem late in our session, we decided to put the race motor in and qualify with that. The guys on the #51 Excite@Home team did an amazing job. It took them only fifty-five minutes to change the engine from the time the car went up on the stands to the time it came down. We made it out to qualify [Cheever was first in the qualifying order] with time to spare."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever