Phoenix, AZ - ...
Phoenix, AZ - #51 Excite@Home driver Eddie Cheever Jr. ran comfortably in the top ten during the first day of practice for the opening round of the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship, the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Cheever paced the field for much of his afternoon practice session, ultimately posting the second fastest time of that group in his Excite@Home Infiniti entry.
Eddie Cheever Jr: "The day was good. It was a continuation of our last test here (March 8 and 9) when we turned our first laps with the new Infiniti Indy 35A. We've changed the Excite@Home car a little bit since then and it's better. We've fixed the car for Turns 1 and 2 - we've got that right - but Turns 3 and 4 aren't quite where we want them yet. I ran some laps in traffic and it went pretty well. In the afternoon we did some full tank runs. The #51 Excite@Home car is better on empty tanks than it is on full, but things are coming along well. It's a new beginning for us with the new Infiniti engine, so we're having to relearn everything. There's a lot of work to do still, but it's a good start.
We needed to see how the new Infiniti would do today. Everything has been positive and we have decided to continue with the new engine even though it only has 500 miles on it to date. The Infiniti 35A is our future, so we're going to jump in at the deep end and race it this weekend. I need to know where the opposition is at, and the only way I can do that is to race them. We have three races to Indy."