Watkins Glen, N.Y. -- Eddie Cheever Jr. encountered unexpected bad luck -- and unexpected adjectives -- during strange circumstances Sunday in the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International. Run-ins with two popular drivers ended...
Watkins Glen, N.Y. -- Eddie Cheever Jr. encountered unexpected bad luck -- and unexpected adjectives -- during strange circumstances Sunday in the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International.
Run-ins with two popular drivers ended with Cheever, a veteran of 30 years of international racing experience, being called an "idiot" twice on national television and being accused of intentionally crashing 19-year-old rookie Marco Andretti.
"To think I would intentionally take anyone out is just ludicrous," Cheever said. "It's beyond words. It was a racing accident, pure and simple. There certainly wasn't any intent, so I find the accusations incomprehensible."
After the accident, Andretti said Cheever "absolutely, on purpose" crashed into him. During a live TV interview after the crash, Michael Andretti, Marco's father and team owner, called Cheever "a complete idiot."
"No single team is the center of the racing universe, no matter how much they seem to think they are," Cheever said. "Nobody took them out intentionally, so their accusations look a bit ridiculous."
The feud between Cheever and the Andretti family dates back to 1992, when Mario Andretti crashed into Cheever at Long Beach. It resumed in April, when the Andrettis verbally trashed Cheever after an incident between Marco Andretti and Cheever during practice for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
"Let there be no mistake, I would never let any feelings I might have carry over to the race course, where lives are at stake," Cheever said. "I have lost too many friends to this sport to be so shallow. It was a racing accident, pure and simple."
Andretti wasn't the only one using the I-word to describe Cheever after Sunday's race. Danica Patrick, who spun on a restart in front of Cheever, also used the epithet over the radio after she crashed.
"She did that all by herself," Cheever said.
In the end, even though the No. 51 Cheever Racing Honda/Dallara finished 17th and he found himself the center of a foolish controversy, Cheever found a comical irony in the accusations.
"The last I looked, I earned the label of Indy 500 champion; those lobbing unfounded accusations at me have not," Cheever said. "I'm not perfect, and neither are my accusers. Let's get back to racing."