IRL: Eddie Cheever Jr. Joliet post race interview

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. Sept. 2, 2001, Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill. MODERATOR: We're joined now by Eddie Cheever Jr. Eddie has five IRL wins; he finished third today. He's with the Cheever Racing Infiniti. Eddie, tell us about your ride today,...

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. Sept. 2, 2001, Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill.

MODERATOR: We're joined now by Eddie Cheever Jr. Eddie has five IRL wins; he finished third today. He's with the Cheever Racing Infiniti. Eddie, tell us about your ride today, your third place finish.

EDDIE CHEEVER JR.: First of all, congratulations to Sam and his team. Obviously, we have another Lazier to deal with now. We had the fastest car out there, we had the best engine out there, but we had problems with our electronics all day long. Every time I come in the pits, it would stall and every time I hit the rev limiter, I'd lose like a second before the injectors would start working again. It's very frustrating but it was a fun race. Coming up the traffic is fun as long as you have a hundred laps to go. When you have 20 laps to go and you have a car that should have won the race and you don't, it's very frustrating.

MODERATOR: You tested here in the past, tell us about the track conditions during the race.

CHEEVER: It was great. It was impeccable. This reminds me a lot of Texas, sort of reminds me of Texas where you can run two abreast. I was thinking even trying three abreast once because the two cars ahead of me were slower, but I couldn't get by them. I think it was Salazar and Buddy. That wasn't a good idea. I canceled out of that one quickly. But there's a lot of grip; you can go two abreast. It was fun. It was busy. Boy, the Dismore car, I think it was the Salazar car, they're very lucky they didn't hit harder than they did because that happened in the straightaway; but it was very tight, very aggressive, very hard and drafting was everything.

MODERATOR: As the race went on, did you find there was more grip going up in the turns where you could go three wide?

CHEEVER: We never really had a big problem with grip. In the beginning, the first 20 laps, I had a problem with my setup. We had made a mistake on tire pressures and wing settings, and the car was very loose. But after we got that done, I mean I had all the grip I needed. I just needed more time. I think I would have gotten Hornish if that smoke hadn't come out. It kind of reminded me, was it "Days of Thunder" where all that smoke was coming out? This is not a movie, if there's oil down, it's going to hurt. I backed off and a little more than he did and that was that. But another five, six laps, I think we would have gotten him and Lazier but we didn't have five or six more laps.

MODERATOR: I would like to open the floor for questions for Eddie Cheever.

Q: Did you see the Salazar/Dismore crash enough to give us a better perspective?

CHEEVER: I did not. It was like a pack of bumble bees. There were people -- everybody was vying for position and today, the position was not on the bottom side of the track or was not on the top side of the track. It depended on who was going to work with you. I just saw a puff of smoke and immediately when I saw the puff of smoke, I was looking for the same thing that happened that happened in Texas; but did I not see, so I do not know. I saw when Sharp spun off, he was loose and just went higher and higher and something went off but I did not see it. I think both Dismore and Salazar are very lucky. When you do that in the straightaway, we all know what the negative repercussions of that are in Texas, because if it turns a sharp 90 degrees, you're in trouble. But I had a lot of fun racing with everybody and I really had -- it was disappointing to have a car that good and not win, but third is better than we finished last week, which was fourth. Great track, it's going to become one of the best tracks that we race at. We're very fortunate to have St. Louis and this place and Kansas in our Midwest - OK?

MODERATOR: Do we have any other questions in the media center?

Q: What about Sam, is he a great champion? Is he going to get better?

CHEEVER: Sam made one mistake this year, I believe it was at Indy. Apart from that, he's driven impeccably. He's driving with a team that has had a consistent sponsor and consistent team members, and they just plugged him in and he did one heck of a job. He beat a great champion beating Salazar -- definitely not Salazar -- beating Lazier was tough this year. Buddy was unlucky with two engine failures. But to beat him, that's quite an accomplishment. So I think he's going to be great. My congratulations, my heartfelt congratulations to the Pennzoil Team.

MODERATOR: Any other further questions?

CHEEVER: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Eddie.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever