Fort Worth, TX (June 9, 2001) - Eddie Cheever Jr. was challenging for the win with five laps remaining in Saturday's Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway when he was collected in a multi-car accident involving race leader Greg Ray and Robby ...
Fort Worth, TX (June 9, 2001) - Eddie Cheever Jr. was challenging for the win with five laps remaining in Saturday's Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway when he was collected in a multi-car accident involving race leader Greg Ray and Robby McGehee.
Cheever, who was running in third place prior to the accident, dominated the race in his #51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti. The 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion led 64 laps and recorded the fastest race lap - 218.697mph - on lap 177 of the 200-lap event.
Cheever's performance marked the first laps led for the new Infiniti Indy 35A engine, and also handed the powerplant its first fastest race lap.
Race Report: After starting third, Cheever stormed into the race lead on lap three and held that position until his first pit stop on lap 27. He returned to the track in sixth place but regained the top spot on lap 36, and by lap 60 had over a six second lead on second place driver Greg Ray.
Cheever relinquished the lead when he made a scheduled pit stop on lap 75, but was pressuring Ray for the number one spot by lap 100. Unfortunately, a puncture in Cheever's left rear tire - caused by debris from an earlier multi-car crash - forced him to pit for a replacement on lap 101.
Following a full course yellow on lap 106, Cheever emerged as the last driver on the lead lap in 13th place. By lap 167, he had powered to third in his #51 Infiniti entry,
battling nose-to-tail with second place Ray. Cheever was poised to take the race lead when he was collected in the Ray/McGehee crash on lap 195. He was unhurt and was classified 12th.
Eddie Cheever Jr. (on the Infiniti Indy 35A): "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."
On the race: "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 pushing people around. I got shoved below the white line and way up into the gray. It's irresponsible lunacy."