Homestead, Fla. (April 8, 2001) -- While Eddie Cheever Jr. earned the first top-ten finish for the all-new Infiniti Indy 35A engine, the 21-year-old Sam Hornish Jr. won the inaugural Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami in front of an estimated crowd of...
Homestead, Fla. (April 8, 2001) -- While Eddie Cheever Jr. earned the first top-ten finish for the all-new Infiniti Indy 35A engine, the 21-year-old Sam Hornish Jr. won the inaugural Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami in front of an estimated crowd of 35,000.
The sunny Miami weather was the ideal setting for the exciting Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami, which kicked off with NFL Hall of Fame star Nick Buoniconti giving the command to start engines.
Representing Infiniti on track, Eddie Cheever Jr. started 16th and patiently worked his way up to seventh place by lap 88 of the 200-lap race. Battling an ill-handling car for the duration of the race, Cheever brought the No. 51 Excite@Home Infiniti home safely in ninth place. It was the second race for the all-new Infiniti Indy 35A engine. The engine debuted at the Phoenix race last month, with Robbie Buhl finishing 11th.
Today, Robbie Buhl's race didn't go as well in the No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Infinti. An electrical malfunction caused the car to suddenly shut down in the early laps of the race. Buhl finished 24th on the final race standings.
The Infiniti team looks forward to a busy month of testing before traveling to the Atlanta Motor Speedway on April 28 for the first night race of the season. The Atlanta 500 Classic will be televised live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. (EDT).
Eddie Cheever Jr., No. 51 Excite@Home Dallara-Infiniti: "This is the first time that the new Infiniti engine has finished a long race like this [300 miles], so we're happy with that. We had no engine problems at all. We have to understand the handling of the car better, though. It was a very bad day for handling. Unfortunately, we did no testing over the winter because the engine arrived just before the season opener, so now we have to catch up as much as we can. The next step for the Excite@Home team is a test in Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday. We made a lot of improvements to the 35A since the first race at Phoenix, and we expect to make the same kind of progress before the Atlanta race."
Steve Kight, director of marketing, Infiniti Division: "We are happy with Eddie's run. Our goal was to finish the race and we not only did that, but also finished in the top ten. It is only our second race with the new Infiniti engine, and we didn't have many laps on the engine before this. We are real pleased with what we did today. Between now and the Atlanta race we are going to be testing at Atlanta, Indy, and Richmond. We are really trying to put a six-month testing schedule into three months. I can't say enough about all the work our design team and race teams are putting into getting ready for the Atlanta race and right after that, the Indianapolis 500.
"The Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami is the first motorsports event Infiniti has ever sponsored and it has been a tremendous experience. I just can't say enough about everyone that has been involved, from the Infiniti East Region to the Homestead-Miami Speedway and the International Speedway Corporation. I was talking with some of our Infiniti dealers and clients that attended the race and they were thrilled. They can't wait to do this again."
Robbie Buhl, No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing GForce-Infiniti: "I really don't know what it was. Something electronic or a sensor. Everything just shut off."
<pre> RACE RESULTS
1. 4 Hornish Jr, Sam D/O/F 2. 15 Fisher, Sarah D/O/F 3. 14 Salazar, Eliseo D/O/F 4. 21 Giaffone, Felipe G/O/F 5. 35 Ward, Jeff G/O/F 6. 3 Unser Jr, Al G/O/F 7. 28 Dismore, Mark D/O/F 8. 8 Sharp, Scott D/O/F *9. 51 Cheever Jr, Eddie D/I/F 10. 32 Andre, Didier G/O/F 11. 31 Mears, Casey G/O/F 12. 10 McGehee, Robby D/O/F 13. 98 Boat, Billy D/O/F 14. 9 Schroeder, Jeret D/O/F 15. 55 Hattori, Shigeaki G/O/F 16. 12 Calkins, Buzz D/O/F 17. 30 Erwin, Brandon G/O/F 18. 27 Hollansworth Jr, John G/O/F 19. 99 Hamilton, Davey D/O/F 20. 91 Lazier, Buddy D/O/F 21. 2 Ray, Greg D/O/F 22. 7 Gregoire, Stephan D/O/F 23. 88 Dare, Airton G/O/F *24. 24 Buhl, Robbie G/I/F 25. 6 Herb, Jon D/O/F 26. 92 Wattles, Stan D/O/F