IRL: Phoenix: Cheever Racing race report

Red Bull Cheever Racing makes big gains with ninth at Phoenix. AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 23, 2003) - Phoenix could go down in history as an early turning point for Red Bull Cheever Racing and Buddy Rice for the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series ...

Red Bull Cheever Racing makes big gains with ninth at Phoenix.

AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 23, 2003) - Phoenix could go down in history as an early turning point for Red Bull Cheever Racing and Buddy Rice for the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series championship.

After finishing 16th at the season opener in Homestead, the team turned things around for round two at Phoenix International Raceway. Rice was knocking on the door of a top-five finish in front of his hometown crowd. In sixth place, with one lap to go, he got caught out by some last-lap dicing and finished ninth. It was the seventh consecutive race that Rice has driven to the finish for Red Bull Cheever Racing.

"This is a big improvement for us from Homestead," Rice said. "I think we deserve to be further up in the standings than we are, but it is what it is. We were running in the lead pack today. It's a big gain. We have sorted out some things with our Dallara chassis from Homestead, and we were able to run with the top cars."

Finishing ninth, four seconds behind race winner Tony Kanaan, is the best finish for the team that has only had the 2003 Dallara-Chevrolet package since January.

"I think this will help take the heat off GM," Rice said. "Everyone is hitting the Chevy engine pretty hard, pointing fingers, but I think they have done a good job."

For Rice the event was extra special as it marked his first IndyCar Series race in the town where he was born and raised.

"Even though Phoenix is my hometown it has been pretty mellow," Rice said. "My friends and family understand that I have a job to do. Everyone goes over to the old man's bus and has a good time. It was a good weekend. A top-ten finish is a good cap to the weekend. And its nice to be home."

The IndyCar Series heads to Japan next for its first ever international event at Twin Ring Motegi. The event will be tape-delayed on ABC at 1 p.m. (EST) April 13.

Red Bull Cheever Racing, based in Indianapolis, is the brainchild of 1998 Indy 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. A leader in American motorsports, the IRL IndyCar Series team is built on Cheever's experience in Formula One, sports cars and open-wheel oval racing. Corporate and technical partnerships include the world's leading energy drink Red Bull, Menards, Chevrolet, Dallara, Firestone and Menard Cheever Technologies. For more information visit www.cheeverracing.com.

-cr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice