IRL: Cheever leads way in final Texas practice

FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 8, 2001 - Eddie Cheever Jr. continued to flex his horsepower, and Greg Ray returned to his customary spot near the top of the speed charts as Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers finished their preparations ...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, June 8, 2001 - Eddie Cheever Jr. continued to flex his horsepower, and Greg Ray returned to his customary spot near the top of the speed charts as Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers finished their preparations Friday for the Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Cheever was the fastest driver of the day, posting a top lap of 216.421 mph during the final practice in the #51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. It was the fastest lap of the event and continued a strong weekend for Cheever, who qualified third Thursday at 214.926. Cheever also was fastest in the first practice today at 216.247. "What a stud, huh?" Cheever said after the first practice. "We were just working on race balance, trying to see what the car will do with a tow. But no one will play with me."

1999 Indy Racing champion Ray was second fastest in the first practice at 214.965 and third fastest in the final practice at 215.730 in the No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. It was quite a contrast from MBNA Pole Qualifying, in which he earned only the 20th starting spot at 209.252 due to engine problems. "We just missed it in qualifying, plain and simple," Ray said. "I think we've got a great race car. We just got caught with our pants down yesterday and made a mistake. We have a good race car, we know we can come from behind here. We just have to be carefully aggressive."

Ray will start his charge toward the front when the 200-lap, 300-mile race starts at 8 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The race will be televised live on ESPN.

MBNA Pole winner Mark Dismore was second fastest in the final practice at 215.804 in the No. 28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. That was Dismore's fastest speed of the event, as he won the pole with a lap of 215.508.

Dismore's teammate, defending event champion Scott Sharp, also showed consistent speed today in his No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Sharp was fourth in the first practice at 214.444 and fifth in the final practice at 215.587.

Jeff Ward also was in the top five in both sessions in the No. 35 Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. He was fifth at 213.951 in the early practice and fourth at 215.716 in the final practice.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Mark Dismore