IRL: Michigan: Cheever Racing raceday notes

Red Bull Cheever Racing earns first win of season in awesome 1-2 sweep. Brooklyn, Mich. -- After a season of frustrating results, Red Bull Cheever Racing finally came through Sunday. Tomas Scheckter took the lead with seven laps left and went...

Red Bull Cheever Racing earns first win of season in awesome 1-2 sweep.

Brooklyn, Mich. -- After a season of frustrating results, Red Bull Cheever Racing finally came through Sunday.

Tomas Scheckter took the lead with seven laps left and went on to win the Michigan Indy 400, the inaugural Indy Racing League event at Michigan International Speedway. It was the first win of the season for the team, which had won four pole positions in 11 IRL races this season.

Teammate Buddy Rice charged up through the field to finish second, marking the first time rookies had finished first and second since the first IRL race in 1996. It was the third IRL victory for the Infiniti Indy V8 engine, and the first 1-2 sweep for the powerplant.

"We finally achieved what we wanted to achieve," said team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. "As a team, it was perfect execution."

Scheckter started from the pole position and led 122 of the 200 laps at an average of more than 179 mph -- the second-fastest race in IRL history. After a long pit stop with 26 laps left, Scheckter charged from 11th position into the lead.

"I pushed every lap," Scheckter said. "Normally I go and say, 'I'll push the last 20 laps, and I'll just stay behind.' I did the opposite today. I said, 'I'm going to floor it from the beginning, I'm going to give no one any room, and I'm going to do the best job I can do from lap one to lap 200.' It paid off."

The win was the first for the promising 21-year-old rookie whose father, Jody Scheckter, won the Formula One world championship in 1979. For Red Bull Cheever Racing, the 1-2 sweep was especially rewarding.

"To watch them both charge the field at the end was very gratifying, for all of the teams, and all of the cars that we prepared this year," Cheever said. "It was probably one of the best drives I've seen in a race car from any category. They were behind at the end. It was superb. I think it's a great day for Red Bull."

On the 174th lap, Scheckter's car stalled in the pits, where it stayed for 23 seconds. By the time he got back on the track, Scheckter was in 11th place but still on the lead lap.

"We had clutch failure, and the car was up in the air," Scheckter said. "I pushed the clutch in, engaged in the gear. Had my foot on the brake, and the car stalled. But this time, instead of Texas, we managed to get it back together. We managed to get the starter in it, restarted up immediately, and get out there."

Cheever finished 22nd after his car hit the wall on the 166th lap.

"I went up a little bit too high," Cheever said. "I got in dirty air, and then I hit the wall. One-hundred percent my fault. I take full responsibility for that. It was not a very good example."

Rice, hired to drive the No. 53 Red Bull Dallara earlier in the week, chased his new teammate to the finish line.

"Obviously we had a good car," Rice said. "I think we showed it all day, just sitting there hanging back in second and third, kind of relaxing, waiting to see how everything was going to shake out. That was our whole game plan from the start."

So, 11 races into the season, Red Bull Cheever racing finally achieved the desired result.

"This racing team functions on wins," Cheever said. "We do everything we can to win. We pick the best drivers, get the best equipment, we develop race-car drivers. This is very gratifying."

The team will try for its second win of 2002 at the Belterra Casino Indy 300 on Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway.

Red Bull Cheever Racing, based in Indianapolis, is the brainchild of 1998 Indy 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. A leader in American motorsports, the Indy Racing League team is built on Cheever's experience in Formula One, sports cars and open-wheel oval racing. Corporate and technical partnerships with the world's leading energy drink Red Bull, Nissan North America's Infiniti Division, TWR Group, and Lincoln Financial Group greatly enhance the team's resources and technology. For more information, visit www.cheeverindyracing.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Rice , Jody Scheckter