IRL: Four former winners entered for 85th Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 16, 2001 - Indianapolis 500 champions Eddie Cheever Jr., Buddy Lazier, Arie Luyendyk and Al Unser Jr., along with notable drivers Michael Andretti, Gil de Ferran, Scott Goodyear and Sam Hornish Jr. headline an all-star...

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, April 16, 2001 - Indianapolis 500 champions Eddie Cheever Jr., Buddy Lazier, Arie Luyendyk and Al Unser Jr., along with notable drivers Michael Andretti, Gil de Ferran, Scott Goodyear and Sam Hornish Jr. headline an all-star field entered for the 85th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the Indianapolis 500.

Fifty entries totaling 94 cars were officially filed for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series-sanctioned event, scheduled to get underway at 11 a.m. (EST) Sunday, May 27.

Cheever, the 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner and owner and full-time driver for the Cheever Indy Racing team, will pilot the #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Joining him at Indianapolis is Goodyear, Cheever Indy Racing's test driver and twice a runner-up at the "500." Goodyear will drive the No. 52 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Lazier, the defending Northern Light Series champion, won the 1996 Indianapolis 500 and has been the most consistent driver at the race since his win. He finished fourth in the grueling race in 1997, second in 1998 and 2000, and seventh in 1999. Lazier, of Vail, Colo., will drive the No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/LifeFitness/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Hemelgarn Racing in his quest for a second Indianapolis 500 championship.

Luyendyk is coming out of retirement from Northern Light Series competition and will drive the No. 5 Meijer G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Treadway Racing. Luyendyk won the "500" in 1997 and 1990, when he set the race record with an average speed of 185.981 mph. He had a commanding lead in 1999, his last Indianapolis 500 appearance, when a crash relegated him to a 22nd-place finish.

Unser, the 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 champion, returns with Galles Racing in the No. 3 Galles Racing Starz SuperPak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone with unfinished business after a disappointing return in 2000. The 2000 Indianapolis 500 was his first since 1994, and Unser's car suffered overheating problems after it was damaged by debris. Unser completed 89 laps and finished 29th.

The 2001 Indianapolis 500 also marks the return of drivers Michael Andretti and Gil de Ferran to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Andretti, the son of 1969 Indianapolis 500 champion Mario Andretti, will drive the No. 39 Motorola/Archipelago Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Team Green. Despite 40-career wins in the CART series, Andretti has led the most laps of any driver at the Indianapolis 500 - 382 laps - without a victory.

Andretti narrowly lost to Rick Mears in a late-race duel in 1991, the same year he won his only CART series championship, and was leading in 1992 when his car suffered fuel pressure problems with only 11 laps to go. de Ferran, the defending CART series champion, is returning to the "500" along with Roger Penske-owned Penske Racing, the winningest race team in Indianapolis 500 history. de Ferran and teammate Helio Castroneves, an Indy rookie, will attempt to add to Penske's record 10 Indianapolis 500 victories.

de Ferran's one previous start at Indianapolis came in 1995 for Hall Racing. He was involved in a first-lap accident and was credited with completing one lap before retiring in 29th.

Hornish is the hottest driver in open-wheel racing after winning the first two Northern Light Series races of 2001. The sensational 21-year-old driver from Defiance, Ohio, will drive the #4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone for Panther Racing.

Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, which won the 2000 Indianapolis 500 with driver Juan Montoya, is returning to Indianapolis this year with rookie drivers Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian. Both will drive Target/Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone entries.

The Indianapolis 500 returns to a three-week format this year, with Opening Day scheduled for Sunday, May 6. MBNA Pole Day is May 12, the second day of qualification is May 13 and Bump Day is May 20.

500 Festival Community Day is May 23 and Coors Carb Day, featuring the final practice session for the elite 33-car starting field, is May 24.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Buddy Lazier , Arie Luyendyk , Scott Goodyear , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Nicolas Minassian , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Chip Ganassi , Roger Penske
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske