Indianapolis, IN - 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion Eddie Cheever Jr. returned to the scene of his greatest triumph for Sunday's 84th running of the "greatest spectacle in racing", muscling his ...
Indianapolis, IN - 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion Eddie Cheever Jr. returned to the scene of his greatest triumph for Sunday's 84th running of the "greatest spectacle in racing", muscling his #51 Excite@Home Infiniti from its tenth place starting position to a well-deserved fifth place finish in the rain-delayed 2000 Indianapolis 500.
Cheever ran as high as second for many of the early laps of the 200-lap event despite battling a significant oversteer in traffic and a late-race gearbox glitch.
Cheever and his #51 Excite@Home team are currently ranked fifth in the Indy Racing driver and entrant standings with 104 points, only eight points behind Robbie Buhl and Scott Goodyear in second place overall, and thirty-four points behind series leader Buddy Lazier. Cheever (on the Infiniti engine): "The Infiniti engine was superb today. We tried hard to break it - I ran it as fast as I could, and it did very, very well. The Infiniti is here. I'm very proud of how they did today and I want to thank everyone at Infiniti for plugging away at it. It won't be too long before everybody is going to want to be running an Infiniti."
(On the race): "We could have won if we had not had a few little moments. I lost half a lap (on lap 131) when I changed gears from fifth to sixth and all I had was a bunch of neutral. I thought the race was over, but I put it in gear, it vibrated a little bit, and something inside decided to fix itself. I got stuck in traffic a lot and didn't come off corners as well as I should have. We also had some problems in the pits waiting for fuel to go in, but the whole #51 Excite@Home team did an awesome job. I'm just sorry that I couldn't do better."
(On the Ganassi team's victory): "I'm very happy for Ganassi. It's a compliment to his organization. I think that with Ganassi coming to Indy this year, soon we will see more (CART) teams running the 500, and maybe there will be some way that the two series can find a way to co-exist."
(On the CART/Indy Racing issue): "I'm a racing driver. I come to Indy because I want to race against the best racing drivers in the world. It doesn't hurt that Montoya has won the Indy 500. Why should it hurt? They were good in qualifying and they ran a triumphant race today. Ganassi has won everything they could in the other series over the past five years and that's the best that series had to offer. I take my hat off to them. I'm a racing driver - not a politician. I acknowledge when somebody comes in and does a phenomenal job, and Montoya did that. Indianapolis is not about the Indy Racing Northern Light Series or the other racing series - it's about the best racing drivers wanting to come here and put their names on the Borg-Warner trophy. This is not about the two series."
(On Juan Montoya): "He is a phenomenal talent in a phenomenal team that has done a tremendous job. It will not be very long before we see Montoya winning Formula One races, and we'll be able to say he raced at Indy. People seem to forget that Montoya has been trained for Formula One. He worked with Williams and did probably 8000 miles of testing. They farmed him out here to toughen him up a bit, and then they will be using him again. I guarantee you that he will be in a Formula One car pretty soon."