David Reininger - motorsport.com Orlando, Fla. (January 29, 2000) - Robbie Buhl snatched victory from the jaws of Eddie Cheever, winning the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway today. Cheever started sixth, running in the top five...
David Reininger - motorsport.com
Orlando, Fla. (January 29, 2000) - Robbie Buhl snatched victory from the jaws of Eddie Cheever, winning the Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway today.
Cheever started sixth, running in the top five for most of the race, while Buhl, who started 22nd, didn't catch the leaders until lap 45. Buhl's early pit stop, during the second caution period, paid off twenty laps later when the leaders made their first stop.
With thirty laps to go in the race Buddy Lazier led, followed by Cheever and Buhl. The trio sliced their way through heavy traffic on the one-mile oval, with Cheever making a daring move under Lazier in turn two to take the lead with eight laps remaining.
Two turns later, Buhl moved under Lazier to take the runner-up position.
Buhl cut Cheever's slim lead and with less than two laps remaining, he took advantage of traffic to take the lead from the two-time Walt Disney World winner.
"I wanted to put a car between Robbie and I," said Cheever. "I saw a blue car coming and he kept drifting up and up. I thought he was going to put me into the wall. Juluis Ceaser once said, 'To trust is good, to not trust is better'. I don't know exactly what happened, but back markers should know better than to get in the way of people who are faster."
Cheever's car is powered by the Infiniti engine, which has yet to win in Indy Racing League competition. "I had my hands on Infiniti's first win today, and I failed them" said Cheever. I am very angry at the back markers who got in my way, but I am even madder at myself. The engine was very strong today, and it kept getting stronger and stronger. This is more than a huge disappointment for me."
Buhl led 49 laps on his way to his second Indy Racing League victory this afternoon. But without the heavy traffic, the finishing order may have been different. "We did have a good race car," Buhl said. "The last ten laps with Eddie, I'd say we both had good race cars. I wasn't losing ground, and I wasn't gaining ground. And if we hadn't caught traffic, it might have continued that way. You wait for a break and have to be ready capitalize on it"
Buddy Lazier led 47 laps, relinquishing the lead to Cheever on lap 192. Lazier fell to third on lap 193 but followed Buhl around Cheever to recapture second place. "We need to win," said Lazier after the race. "We haven't won in two years. This is really disappointing."
Scott Goodyear ran at the front all day but wasn't close to enough to the leaders to take advantage of the traffic. He finished fourth. "It was a great race at the end and we would have liked to have been on the podium," said the popular Canadian driver. But we'll take the points and go on to Phoenix, like we did last year. Considering we didn't get a chance to practice with this car and ran with a test setup, we'll take a top-five spot."
Airton Dare was the top finishing rookie with his 11th place finish. Dare drove as teammate to John Hollansworth in the Team Xtreme G Force. "We started as huge unders, so we're happy with how we finished," Dare said. My first run from the start, we had to come in and take some turns on the front wing. So we needed to make a lot of changes. After my last pit stop, the car was perfect."
Al Unser Jr. was hoping for a strong finish in his first Indy Racing League event but an engine failure sidelined the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner after 64 laps.
"Right in the middle of turn one, the car just tightened up," said Unser. "It may have lost oil pressure or a bearing, but it just seized. I knew it was over. This is the first engine blown up in all the testing we've done. Up until know, we've done great."
With qualifying rained out, Unser was forced to start the race from the 24th starting position. He moved into 12th position just before the engine expired. "I was trying to get up to join the leaders to stay on the lead lap. I was taking quite a few chances to get up there and then I'd settle down. The caution laps definitely helped me. It's been awhile since I had that much fun. It's always good when you get to pass on the race track."