Infiniti leads 85 laps and takes fifth place at Indy 500. Indianapolis, Ind. (May 26, 2002) - Red Bull Cheever Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Eddie Cheever Jr. led the Infiniti effort in the 86th Indianapolis 500. Scheckter was the fastest...
Infiniti leads 85 laps and takes fifth place at Indy 500.
Indianapolis, Ind. (May 26, 2002) - Red Bull Cheever Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Eddie Cheever Jr. led the Infiniti effort in the 86th Indianapolis 500. Scheckter was the fastest driver of the race and led 85 laps with his Infiniti, while Eddie Cheever Jr. brought his Infiniti-powered car home in fifth place.
In the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti, Cheever's fifth-place finish was his fourth top-five result in 13 Indy 500 starts, including his victory in 1998. Cheever also finished fifth with Infiniti power in the 2000 Indianapolis 500 after leading four laps.
Tomas Scheckter had the most dominating run of the Infiniti drivers, leading more laps than any other driver in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti. Starting 10th, he took the lead for the first time on lap 33. He was also the fastest driver of the race with a 226.499 mph lap.
Building up a 10-second lead with 27 laps remaining, Scheckter's race ended early when he crashed into the turn four wall. He finished 26th.
Front-row starter Robbie Buhl finished 16th, while Shigeaki Hattori finished 20th. Laurent Redon, Max Papis, and Sarah Fisher finished 22nd, 23rd, and 24th, respectively.
Redon, who was involved in an accident on lap 198 with Buddy Lazier, was taken by ambulance to Methodist Hospital complaining of pain in his left leg.
BERNARD DUDOT, INFINITI MOTORSPORTS, INDY RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: "We are very pleased with the performance of the Infiniti engines today. Tomas was very strong in the race, leading 85 laps with the Infiniti powerplant. We are happy that Eddie was able to bring his car home in fifth place. We had seven cars in the field today, and the engine ran strong in every one of those cars. I think you will see this success continue for the rest of the IRL season."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR., NO. 51 RED BULL CHEEVER RACING DALLARA/INFINITI/FIRESTONE: "Everybody said that our engine was going to have problems, but the Nissan Infiniti engine ran impeccably. None of the seven engines in the field today had any problems. I believe that we had the best engine out there today. I am very sorry to see what happened to Tomas. He was very quick the whole day. I kept getting stuck in traffic. I don't know what it is with Al (Unser Jr.) but every time I get behind him and he is a lap down he holds me up and I lose a few places. I lost a strong third place because of that. It's getting to be tiring, after Nazareth and then here at Indy. It's unnecessary. Congratulations to Penske and (Helio) Castroneves. That might be the most confusing 500 I have ever been in. While we are disappointed to not have the win today, I think by tomorrow morning we will be happy to have our best finish of the season so far. The Red Bull Cheever Racing team, along with our technical partners at TWR Group, has worked hard for this day. And our work will pay off for us during the rest of the IRL Championship."
ROBBIE BUHL, NO. 24 TEAM PUREX/AVENTIS DREYER & REINBOLD RACING GFORCE/INFINITI/FIRESTONE: "Today was not what we wanted, for sure. We just didn't have the balance in the car from the get-go. By myself, it wasn't right, and then in traffic it still wasn't any good. We just never had the race car that we wanted to have, which is frustrating, given the car we had all month. We lost a lap initially on the first yellow, when we got caught already coming into the pits when the yellow flag came out. I just fought the car all day. We made a lot of changes, but just couldn't get the balance where we wanted. Some people had questioned the Infiniti engine coming into this race, but I never once had concerns about the reliability of this engine. We've had power all month, in fact, all season, and we knew we could go the distance today."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI, NO. 12 EPSON/NISMO BRADLEY MOTORSPORTS DALLARA/INFINITI/FIRESTONE: "I enjoyed this race so much. It is very special to race here, and I can't wait to come back. I want to thank EPSON, Infiniti and my team. We overcame three fires this month, made the race with a strong time, and I lived a dream of mine today. The car was sliding very badly at the beginning of the race. I almost lost it ten times. We made some tire pressure changes, and it got a lot better, but we were down two laps by then. The Infiniti engine ran perfect all day."
SARAH FISHER, NO. 23 TEAM ALLEGRA DREYER & REINBOLD RACING GFORCE/INFINITI/FIRESTONE: "It was a long race, but we made it through to the end with the car in one piece. My radio went out at about lap 20. I could hear Dane (Harte, crew mechanic) and my spotter talking to me at the beginning of the race, but I couldn't answer them back and let them know what was going on with the car so we could make it better. The only way we could communicate was with hand signals during the short 12 or so seconds that we were in the pits during each stop. We chased the car around and finally got it close at the end, which was too late. This month of May has been a wonderful experience for me. To be associated with a team like Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, who put such a first-class car and crew together in such a short time, was such an awesome experience. Everyone who stepped up to sponsor our program, from Allegra, to Raybestos, ATA, Purex, Huntington Banks, Tag Heuer, Infiniti and Firestone, was instrumental in our getting to the finish line today. I hope to have the opportunity to work with this wonderful group of people again in the future, and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity I had in May."
MAX PAPIS, NO. 53 RED BULL CHEEVER RACING DALLARA/INFINITI/FIRESTONE: "First of all I am very pleased that we finished the race. I am not happy about the results. We had a brake problem from the word go. The only thing I could do was to work my way around it. I tried to be very consistent and stay back on the straights and really get a big run on the corners. I thought the Red Bull Cheever team did an excellent job. The Nissan Infiniti engine was very strong. I was very pleased about the engine because everybody had concerns about the engine's reliability. I kept going on and got the car back on the lead lap. Then there were absolutely no brakes. I had to come back in and block one caliper off. I had a couple of scary moments because of that, especially when I was running behind Gil (de Ferran) and the yellow came out. I almost ran into the back of him. It was a hairy moment. Overall we had a top car. It was a good experience. Hopefully, next year we could put a few pieces in better position and we will be very strong. I have to say thanks to Eddie (Cheever) for making this dream come true for me. I hope that it works out that I could win this race for Cheever Racing in the future. I am not happy to just participle, I want to win."
TOMAS SCHECKTER, NO. 52 RED BULL CHEEVER RACING DALLARA/INFINITI/FIRESTONE:
"The race was good. I was leading for a long time and everything was great. The Infiniti engine did its job today. It was strong all day long. I am very disappointed about the accident. I had no control over the car. It just turned into the wall. I am not sure what happened. I'm very upset for the whole team. The race was good, but I would have preferred to be in the lead on the last lap."