IRL: Cheever third in IROC Daytona race

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 16, 2001 -- Eddie Cheever Jr. didn't win the 2001 True Value International Race of Champions race Feb. 16 at Daytona, but he was the center of attention after the opening round of racing's all-star series. ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Feb. 16, 2001 -- Eddie Cheever Jr. didn't win the 2001 True Value International Race of Champions race Feb. 16 at Daytona, but he was the center of attention after the opening round of racing's all-star series. Cheever and seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt collided while Earnhardt led with two laps remaining in the 40-lap race at Daytona International Speedway. That allowed NASCAR Winston Cup superstars Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd to drive past, as Jarrett edged Rudd by .014 of a second for the victory. Cheever ended up third. "I made a mistake, I apologized for it," Cheever said. "I'm sorry. He had every right to be angry. I can't think of a worse thing a race car driver could do than bump Dale Earnhardt." Indy Racing standouts Scott Goodyear and Mark Dismore also were running at the finish, ending up in sixth and eighth place, respectively. 2000 Northern Light Cup champion Buddy Lazier was credited with 11th place in the 12-car field after being involved in an accident with NASCAR Winston Cup driver Jeff Burton and Dismore on Lap 26 that put Lazier and Burton out of the race. The race will be televised at 5 p.m. (EST) Feb. 18 on ESPN. Jarrett's winning average speed was 173.077 mph. There were 17 lead changes among seven drivers. Cheever was one of those leaders. He took the top spot on Lap 39 of the 40-lap race on the 2.5-mile, high-banked oval after his collision with Earnhardt, who ended up seventh after regaining control of his car. "My mistakes?" Cheever said. "The first one was trying to pass Earnhardt. I was going down the front straight; there's a little dogleg there. Kenny (Brack) moved to the outside, and I went to pass him. "The gap narrowed. I clipped the right-hand side and moved him, ricocheted back the other way and hit once and again. I used (Earnhardt's) car to stop spinning, and he ended up in the grass." On the cool-down lap after the finish, Earnhardt tapped the rear of Cheever's on the backstretch, sending Cheever's car into a spin. Earnhardt then drove to the pits, climbed from his car and walked toward Cheever's car, pointing at Cheever, as Cheever climbed from his car. The crowd cheered wildly, anticipating a possible confrontation. But Earnhardt then wrapped his arm around Cheever and smiled. "I'm sitting in the car, and this 6-foot guy with a moustache they call 'The Intimidator' walks up to the car, and I think, 'I'm not even going to get in a punch,'" Cheever said. "I hope I don't get beaten up getting out of here. People were throwing cans at me out there. "I have no rivalry with Earnhardt. I have enough problems in life without that one. We were joking around before the race. In fact, there was an airplane ad for whiskey, and I told him I was going to win, and he had to buy me the bottle of whiskey. "The NASCAR guys have come to accept the open-wheel guys. I've had a lot of tough races in the car and fun when I'm out of the car." The second round of the four-round True Value IROC series is April 21 at Talladega Superspeedway.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , IROC
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Mark Dismore , Scott Goodyear