Madison, Ill. (Aug. 26, 2001) -- Both Infiniti-powered machines finished in the top five in the Indy Racing League's debut at the St. Louis area Gateway International Raceway. Eddie Cheever Jr. finished fourth, while Robbie Buhl finished fifth.
Madison, Ill. (Aug. 26, 2001) -- Both Infiniti-powered machines finished in the top five in the Indy Racing League's debut at the St. Louis area Gateway International Raceway. Eddie Cheever Jr. finished fourth, while Robbie Buhl finished fifth. Buhl was also a serious contender for the victory, leading 35 of 200 laps and turning the fastest lap of the race at 166.487 mph.
Cheever drove at a steady pace in the No. 51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti, working his way up through the field from his ninth place starting position. Cheever, who ran as high as third, moved into fourth position when he went into the pits with 11 laps to go for a 'splash-and-go' fuel stop. He took the checkered flag in fourth place, only four seconds behind race winner Al Unser Jr., to earn his best result of the season since winning the Kansas race in early July.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Robbie Buhl took a gamble on fuel strategy in their race by deciding not to pit with the leaders on lap 133 during the third caution-flag period. This allowed Buhl to lead 35 laps in the second half of the race, and might have earned him his first victory of the season, if the yellow flag did not come out with 12 laps remaining in the race. This caution, caused by an accident involving Eliseo Salazar, erased the team's advantage, and Buhl settled for a fifth place finish, his second top-five finish this season.
The Indy Racing Northern Light Series visits the new Chicagoland Speedway next weekend for the Delphi Indy 300 on Sunday, Sept. 2. ABC will televise the event live at 4 p.m. (EDT).
Eddie Cheever Jr., No. 51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti (Started 9th; Finished 4th): "It was a horrible day for us. We couldn't get the car working. At the start, it got kind of busy. I got squeezed out and knocked back about 30 feet. Owen (Snyder III, Chief Mechanic) did a good job and the crew had some great pit stops but we never had a car that was easy or fun to drive. The racing was good but I'm glad that this place is over."
Robbie Buhl, No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing GForce-Infiniti (Started 14th, Finished 5th, Led 35 Laps, Fastest Race Lap): "We thought we had the win. How many times can we say that this year with it not happening? It's getting a little old. We've got a good group of guys at Team Purex, and the Infiniti power is good. That's the motor we started the weekend with, then we put it in the car for the race, and it didn't miss a beat. It always seems to be one thing or another that keeps us from getting on the podium this year. Because of the fuel sequence we were on, if that crash had not happened at the end we would have ran away with the win. It's disheartening. We knew if we didn't come in that time (lap 133, during third yellow caution) then we would only have to stop one more time, where other people would have to stop twice. Obviously, Al Unser Jr. didn't have to; he went longer than we thought. But, I think if that yellow didn't come out, we would have been okay. I don't think that he would have been able to go that long. That was the strategy. Looking at it now, we probably should have come in with the leaders, since we had already caught up with them, and we had the car to win. But 'If' is the biggest word in the dictionary."