McGehee Finishes Where He Starts Saturday At Homestead in IRL Season Opener HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 2 - Robby McGehee finished exactly where he started - in 14th spot - Saturday afternoon in the 20th anniversary Grand Prix of Miami at ...
McGehee Finishes Where He Starts Saturday At Homestead in IRL Season Opener
HOMESTEAD, Fla., March 2 - Robby McGehee finished exactly where he started - in 14th spot - Saturday afternoon in the 20th anniversary Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Indy Racing League season opener was televised live on ABC.
The popular St. Louis-based driver was behind the wheel of the solid black Cahill Racing Dallara Chevrolet #10, which carried the colors of the on-line brokerage house Scottrade, Inc. and Dollar Rent-a-Car here this weekend.
"It was a long day at the office for the Cahill Racing team today," McGehee said after taking the checkered. "The track and the weather conditions were constantly changing, and we were chasing the set-up all day on the Scottrade/Dollar-Rent-a-Car Dallara Chevy. First it was loose, then it was pushing. I adjusted the weight jacker and the sway bars all day. Turn four was the worst; it was really slippery and the wind was gusting a lot there. It seemed like everything happened in turn four."
McGehee got off to a rough start. His car got loose in traffic and a train of cars slipped by, dropping him from 14th to 20th.
"I had to get on the brakes to avoid missing somebody on the green, and we got a really bad start," he said over the radio at the time.
Since it was so early, team owner Larry Cahill figured he didn't have much track position to lose so he brought his car in on lap seven to top if off with fuel.
The car was loose early in the race but McGehee worked with his sway bars and the weight jacker, and when the yellow waved for Jaques Lazier's spin in turn four on lap 23, McGehee was able to catch back up with the leaders.
Most of the front-runners pitted under that yellow but Cahill had McGehee stay out, which helped him to move into the top 10 at that point. At the highest point he was sixth.
Several cars passed him under yellow, however, and before he knew it he was back in 16th spot.
By the time eventual winner Sam Hornish Jr. put him a lap down on lap 64, McGehee said the car was loose in turn two and pushing in turn four.
Things continued like that all day. He kept moving his weight jacker and his bars to try to adapt to the changing track conditions as the sun went in and out of the clouds and the wind gusted periodically, and the team played with different sets of tires to try to make the situation better.
Things brightened up considerably near the halfway point of the race when Cahill noted that McGehee was now running laps as quick as or quicker than anyone on the track. But McGehee was mired back in 16th place by that time, and couldn't regroup from the earlier problems.
Things got even more challenging when he ran out of fuel on lap 129 and the crew had to run down pit road and push him back into his pit stall. He had one more pit stop on lap 162 but the car stalled leaving the pits on that stop, which was a precursor of something going amiss with the throttle or gears.
"Every time I try to give it gas, it goes to neutral," McGehee said at the time. "I think we're losing some gears or something."
Somehow McGehee hung on until the finish, which was an accomplishment. Just being able to avoid the three accidents and several spins was an achievement in the 200-lap race, which had nine caution flags for 48 laps before Hornish took the checkered over Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Jeff Ward and Eliseo Salazar.
"I'm glad we brought it home in one piece, but there once with about 20 laps to go it got real loose and I almost lost it big time in turn four all by myself," McGehee noted afterwards. "This track is very challenging, that's for sure. I started to lose some gears at the end, so actually it was good it ended under yellow for us."
McGehee and the rest of the team hope for better luck at the next races March 17 in Phoenix and March 24 in Fontana, Calif.