IRL: Indy500: Eddie Cheever Takes Top Spot in Last Minutes of Practice

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 14, 2000 - 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. unseated fellow Indy champ Al Unser Jr. from the top of today’s speed chart in the closing minutes of Indianapolis 500 practice May 14 with a lap of ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 14, 2000 - 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. unseated fellow Indy champ Al Unser Jr. from the top of today’s speed chart in the closing minutes of Indianapolis 500 practice May 14 with a lap of 220.881 mph, the fastest of the event. Cheever, driving the #51 Excite@Home Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, turned his top lap in windy conditions at 5:57 p.m., just three minutes before the end of practice. “It’s kind of like having the best grades on the first day of school, but today was a lot of fun,” Cheever said. “Today was for the mechanics -they’ve worked really hard. The #51 Excite@Home car wasn’t perfect --we had some push in Turn 2 -- and the westerly wind was making things very tricky. But I’m very happy now.” Unser sat atop the speed chart for most of Sunday afternoon after turning a lap of 220.686 in the #3T Tickets.com-Starz Encore Super Pak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone. He was fastest on Saturday’s opening day of practice for the 84th Indianapolis 500 at 217.223 in his primary car. “I find it so funny that people have said that Al is done, he’s washed up, he’s finished,” said Cheever. “As far as I know, Unsers give up when they want to give up. I do get great pleasure out of beating the red-head today.” 1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee was third fastest at 219.780 in the #5 Meijer/Energizer Advanced Formula/Malll.com G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, Scott Sharp fourth at 219.769 in the #8T Delphi Automotive Systems/MCI WorldCom Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone and Buddy Lazier fifth at 219.453 in the #91 Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone. Speeds increased today throughout the field compared to Saturday. Twelve drivers turned faster laps today than Unser’s top speed Saturday. Thirty-three drivers completed 1,323 laps in 35 cars. The only incident of the day occurred at 5:28 p.m. (EST) when Tyce Carlson, driving the #20 Hubbard Photographics/Immke Auto Group Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, made contact with the Turn 1 outside retaining wall. Carlson, of Indianapolis, was transported to Methodist Hospital for further tests. He was awake and alert, complaining of pain in his left ankle. Robby Gordon turned laps on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time this year, about 20 minutes before the end of practice. Gordon, who drives full time on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, is a teammate to Team Menard driver Greg Ray. Gordon completed only three laps in Ray’s backup Conseco-Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, reaching 178.423. Other drivers who practiced for the first time were Donnie Beechler, Buzz Calkins, Dan Drinan, Sarah Fisher, Richie Hearn, Jason Leffler, Johnny Unser, A.J. Foyt Racing teammates Jeff Ward and Eliseo Salazar, and Robbie Buhl, the Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader. Practice continues from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (EST) Monday, with the gates opening to the public at 9 a.m. Admission is $5 for everyone age 6 and older; free for children age 5 and younger. Pole Day qualifying takes place from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. May 20. The final day of qualifications, MBNA Bump Day, is from noon-6 p.m. May 21.

-IRL/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Buzz Calkins , Robby McGehee , Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Richie Hearn , Dan Drinan , Johnny Unser , A.J. Foyt