Red Bull Cheever dominates opening day at Michigan. Rookie Rice fastest at 221.833 mph, followed by Scheckter, Cheever. BROOKLYN, Mich., Friday, July 26, 2002 -- Buddy Rice, the latest rapid rookie at Red Bull Cheever Racing, led the opening day...
Red Bull Cheever dominates opening day at Michigan. Rookie Rice fastest at 221.833 mph, followed by Scheckter, Cheever.
BROOKLYN, Mich., Friday, July 26, 2002 -- Buddy Rice, the latest rapid rookie at Red Bull Cheever Racing, led the opening day of practice for the Michigan Indy 400 as the Cheever team swept the top three spots on the speed chart.
Rice, making his Indy Racing League debut, turned a top lap of 32.4568 seconds, 221.833 mph in the No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone during the second practice.
2000 Toyota Atlantic champion Rice, 25, from Phoenix, joined owner-driver Eddie Cheever Jr. and fellow rookie Tomas Scheckter in the Cheever race lineup just two days ago.
"Obviously, I'm here for the weekend, but we'll have to see what happens after the weekend and go from there," Rice said. "I'm really happy to be with the Red Bull Cheever team with Infiniti power. We're doing really well. I think any opportunity you get right now is very important.
"My door is open to anything. Anything is better than sitting at home, but open wheel is where I want to be. That's where it's at."
Scheckter was second fastest on the day at 32.5362, 221.292 turned during the second practice in the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. Cheever was third overall at 32.5448, 221.233 in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, a lap that led the morning practice.
2001 IRL Rookie of the Year Felipe Giaffone was fourth overall at 32.6190, 220.730 in the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, while two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five at 32.6853, 220.283 in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
Series points leader Gil de Ferran struggled, recording a top lap of 32.8504, 219.175 in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone that was good for just 12th in the second practice.
Red Bull Cheever Racing now will look to sweep the front row of an IRL race for the second time in the last two months during MBNA Pole Qualifying at 11 a.m. (EDT) Saturday. Scheckter won the pole, and Cheever started second June 8 at Texas.
Cheever's team is winless despite winning three MBNA Poles this season. That drought could end at the IRL's first race at Michigan, which starts at 3 p.m. (EDT) Sunday and will be televised live on ABC.
"I asked (league president and CEO) Tony George if he would allow it," Cheever joked about a three-abreast start. "He smirked and walked away. I would love to see all three of our cars on the front row.