Orlando, Florida - Central Florida resident and 1998 Indy 500 winner, Eddie Cheever, Jr. comes home to Walt Disney World Speedway this weekend to defend not only last year's race win, but also to attempt to become the event's first ever ...
Orlando, Florida - Central Florida resident and 1998 Indy 500 winner, Eddie Cheever, Jr. comes home to Walt Disney World Speedway this weekend to defend not only last year's race win, but also to attempt to become the event's first ever three-time winner (1997 & 1999). Arriving at the Delphi Indy 200 with a new engine-tire-chassis package in hand and only ten test days under their belts, Cheever and his new #51 Team Cheever Riley & Scott/Firestone/Infiniti crew know their goal is a lofty one.
"We dominated last year because we came prepared. With the car being late, we are playing "catch up". We have only a certain number of tires to run, only a certain number of practice sessions to sort things out," said two-time Champion of his home race. "With that in mind, we will focus all of our energies on preparing for the race. In the end, race day is not about 50 or 60 laps, it is about having a good strong car under you at the end."
"I have tremendous confidence in my group. I am working with the same group of guys that I have the past two seasons," continued Cheever of his Indy 500 winning crew. "We've had our backs against many walls over the years, but, we always have been able to get the best out of what we have. This race will be no different.
New equipment or not, facing what many call "the most difficult 1-mile oval of the year" is always a challenge. Unlike the larger 1.5-mile ovals that the Indy Racing League runs on, Walt Disney World Speedway has a surprise in every corner. Turn One, a significant banking. Turn Two, a bump and a bowl. Turn Three, a quick dogleg. While all three straightaways vary in length.
"This speedway has tremendous character. It is very unique," said the team owner/driver of the one-mile tri-oval. "The trick is to find the compromise that gives you the most drive-able race car in the end. You compromise on tires, on downforce, on how to play the weather. Each compromise decides whether you will be in the lead pack."
The competition deems to be just as tough as the track. This season, two-time Indy 500 winner, Al Unser, Jr., joins the Indy Racing League ranks along with 1999 IRL Champion, Greg Ray, Scott Goodyear, Robby Unser and many others. As the recent Open Tests in Orlando have shown, the top twenty cars will be within a breath of one another for 200 miles.
"One thing the fans can be assured of on Saturday is great racing," said Cheever, who next month races just north of Orlando at the Daytona International Speedway on February 18th for the International Race of Champions (IROC) event. "Twenty-five drivers, going over 180 mph, lap after lap, just inches away from one another's tires is something no one should miss!"
The Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway will be televised live on ABC on Saturday, January 29th at noon (EST). "Indy Racing 2Day" will debut at 11:30am January 29th on ESPN2. ESPN2 will also televise Pole Qualifying at 1:30pm Friday, January 28th.