IRL: Indy500: Cheever qualifying gamble pays off

Indianapolis, IN (May 13, 2001) - With less than ten minutes remaining in the second day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, Eddie Cheever Jr. withdrew the ...

Indianapolis, IN (May 13, 2001) - With less than ten minutes remaining in the second day of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, Eddie Cheever Jr. withdrew the #51 Excite@Home back-up car that he had qualified on pole day in a bid to improve upon his 220.513 mph average speed. The gamble paid off, as the 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion toured the 2.5-mile Brickyard at an average speed of 222.152 mph in his Infiniti-powered entry.

Eddie Cheever Jr:  #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car

Qualified: 30th Speed: 222.152 mph

Cheever (on today's qualifying run): "I'm elated that we have qualified. Those four laps for me were almost as important as winning the Indy 500 in 1998. If you make one mistake, your average drops dramatically. We changed everything on the #51 Excite@Home Infiniti twice, we ran three good laps this morning, and we knew we had a good car. We were just waiting for the track temperatures to drop below 100ÂF. When the track temperature goes down, the grip level picks up, but it's very tricky to get the timing right. Ideally, you want to be the last driver out before the gun goes off, and we were pretty close. It was very nerve-wracking because we had to withdraw the #51 Excite@Home T-car that we qualified yesterday, and if anything had gone wrong, we would have been looking at a very long week ahead. I'm very satisfied with our effort today. The #51 Excite@Home Infiniti ran very well. I actually feel like I am on the pole."

On qualifying at Indianapolis: "When you come to this place, you have to take the good with the bad. Scott had a string of problems in the days before qualifying, but he sucked it up and put the #52 Thermos Grill2Go car in the field. When you are looking for the limit at Indy, it is very difficult. If you spin, it is a very hard wall. But I guess a few more white hairs won't make any difference to me."

On working with teammate Scott Goodyear: "Scott and I have a very good relationship. We're like the odd couple. Scott's very detailed in everything he does. He's like a painter who paints with a very small brush, whereas I just throw big buckets of paint on the canvas. Scott's very talented, very dedicated to what he's doing, and very hungry. I know that Infiniti has been very happy with the work that he has been doing developing the 35A, since that has been his primary responsibility since the beginning of the season. The good thing about having a teammate like Scott who has so much experience at Indy is that at the end of the day he can be working on some things on the car, I can be working on something else, and we get to where we want to be quicker."

On being an owner/driver at the Indy 500: "To be totally honest, in the month of May, all I really concentrate on is driving and working with our guys on engineering the car. The ownership is more of a duty that I have from Monday to Friday. We have some very good people who work for Cheever Indy Racing and everybody has a job to do when it comes to the Indy 500. My job is to stay away from the walls and keep turning left."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Scott Goodyear