IRL: Robby McGehee season preview

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 20 - St. Louis-based Indy Racing driver Robby McGehee is all set for the 15-race 2002 Indy Racing season, which begins with the 20th anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on Saturday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 20 - St. Louis-based Indy Racing driver Robby McGehee is all set for the 15-race 2002 Indy Racing season, which begins with the 20th anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on Saturday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. The 200-lap/300-mile race will be televised live on ABC beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern, with a live pre-race show on ESPN2 a half-hour earlier.

The crown jewel of McGehee's season, of course, will be the world's largest single-day sporting event, the Indy 500, on Sunday, May 26.

Another key date will be the series' second visit to McGehee's hometown, as the IRL will race at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis on Sunday, Aug. 25.

For 2002 McGehee returns to the cockpit of Larry Cahill's black Dallara #10, which is powered by a Comptech-prepped Chevrolet engine this year instead of an Olds. The team continues to use its dependable Firestone Firehawk tires.

Mike Horvath of New Lebanon, Ohio returns as team manager; Kevin Hertle of Cedar Rapids, Iowa will again serve as the crew chief and John Hayes of Aurora, Colo. will again be the engineer for the team, which is based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Along with other members of Cahill Racing, McGehee is actively searching for marketing partners when he isn't overseeing his computer consulting firm or training to stay in top shape physically. He's also an active spokesperson for the Think First Foundation, a national injury-prevention program.

McGehee was a fan-favorite before the 2001 season but he drew even more admirers for his grace under pressure and perseverance last year. He broke his left leg in 10 places and suffered cracked ribs, a concussion and a separated shoulder in a crash June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway. Many other drivers would have been out for the balance of the season while they recovered, but McGehee was back racing - and finishing in the top 10 - the following month. His best finish of the season - fourth at Nashville, Tenn. - was one of those top 10s.

"I'm really excited to be back with Cahill Racing for 2002," McGehee said. "With the accident we didn't really get a chance to prove what we could do, but we came on strong at the end of the year," he added, referring to leading at Kansas City and Nashville and running as high as second in the 2001 season finale at Texas.

"That's why it's great to be back with the same team for 2002," he continued. "It's really good to be able to form a longer relationship with a team, because I think that's what it takes to form a winning team. We have our work cut out for us because we don't have a sponsor yet, but the IRL formula is somewhat of an equalizer so I'm still very optimistic.

"We all wish we would have been able financially to test this winter, but we're still going to show up every weekend to win," he continued. "I won't be content with just driving around and I'm going to be going for it. We do have our work cut out for us, but I'm thankful that Larry [Cahill] is going to do all the races and I know that both of us feel we can go out and compete well."

After playing hurt for much of 2001 due to no fault of his own, McGehee says he's going to the 2002 season opener "in better physical shape than I've been in my whole life as well as in my racing career.

"I've been working out very hard, and the doctors say my leg is 90 percent now," he elaborated. "I feel my endurance is better than it's ever been. I've been working out with a personal trainer three times a week, and on my own I ride a stationary bike three or four times a week.

"I've also changed my diet, and I'm eating extremely healthy foods," he added. "Like everybody I slip every once in a while, but I've really been focusing on being in the best shape possible. I'm following a protein diet and I've cut out a lot of carbs. I'm eating my broccoli and chicken, and really working on it."

Fans can follow McGehee's progress on the track easily, as all of his races will be televised live and also carried on the IMS Radio Network live. Internet users can also learn more about McGehee at www.robbymcgehee.com; www.cahillracing.com; www.indyracing.com and www.restartcommunications.com.

-cr/lm-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby McGehee