Team Cheever Set To Defend Indy 500 Title Team Cheever's Owen Synder wins "True Grit" Award As Leading Chief Mechanic Indianapolis, Indiana (May 27, 1999) - The thirty-three starters of the 83rd running of the "Greatest Spectacle In Racing",...
Team Cheever Set To Defend Indy 500 Title Team Cheever's Owen Synder wins "True Grit" Award As Leading Chief Mechanic
Indianapolis, Indiana (May 27, 1999) - The thirty-three starters of the 83rd running of the "Greatest Spectacle In Racing", the Indianapolis 500, turned their final practice laps today of the historic 2.5-mile speedway in anticipation of Sunday's race. On race day, defending Indy 500 champion, Eddie Cheever, Jr. will start from the 6th row in 16th position while Team Cheever rookie, Wim Eyckmans, will start 29th from the 10th row.
"We have worked very hard with Goodyear, Dallara and Infiniti to improve our chances on repeating the Indy 500 win, " spoke Eddie Cheever, Jr., driver of the #51 Team Cheever/Children's Beverage Group/Dallara/Goodyear/Infiniti. "This is the most grueling 500 miles we race every year and there are some things out of our control. Those things that are in our control, we have focused heavily on and we are very happy with our results. Dick (Caron) and Owen (Snyder) always give me a car that will be there the last 20 laps, from there, it is my game."
Cheever's efforts will be headed by the two-time Indy 500 winning Chief Mechanic, Owen Snyder III who received today the "True Grit" award which acknowledges one dedicated chief mechanic competing in the Indy 500. Snyder was personally recognized by a three-judge panel for his outstanding achievement in overcoming adversity, excellence in preparation and management and dedication to the highly skilled trade of working on Indy cars.
"We are a very small team," said Team Manager, Dick Caron, of his highly respected Chief Mechanic. "We have achieved the success that we have because we have chosen to surround ourselves with the best in their field. Owen is one of the pillars we have built this racing team on."
The pit stall three stops north of Cheever's will house Team Cheever's #52 EGP/Beaulieu of America Dallara/Goodyear/Oldsmobile with Belgium rookie, Wim Eyckmans at its helm. In a nerve-wracking qualifier, Eyckmans held his own when much prayed for rain closed down Sunday's Bump Day festivities, just as Robbie Buhl pushed Eyckmans onto the "bubble". To ensure their spot on the starting grid, 1998 Rookie of the Year winning Chief Mechanic, Dane Harte, stood by his driver as the rain fell until 430pm, when the officials called the day a "wash".
"Dane and I felt that if we left pit lane, the racing gods would not continue to look favorably on us. So we stayed put," spoke the 26-year old rookie, Eyckmans of his "rain dance" and his hopes for the race. "Now it is up to me. I must run consistently and stay out of trouble. Eddie gave me some hints on how to play the race and to do just that. I will give it my best every second of those 500 miles."
Though a fact sometimes overshadowed by the illustriousness of the Indy event, Team Cheever is also fighting to best its current second place standing in the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League Championship and third place niche in the Drivers Points. While many marvel at the "tightest field in Indy 500 history", the Pep Boys Indy Racing League series is known for this kind of close open-wheel competition. In such, the crew of Team Cheever have proven their salt, having won the season-opening Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway and then again in Phoenix, where they led the pack before getting into an accident with just a quarter of the race left to go.
"Every race we go to is like this! With this tight a field!" added an enthusiastic Cheever. "We just happen to be fighting for a lot of money this time!"
The 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500 will air live on ABC Sports on Sunday, May 30th beginning at 10am ET.
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