Indianapolis, IN - 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion Eddie Cheever Jr. returned to the scene of his greatest career triumph Friday seeking another victory at the venerable Brickyard, but not in his ...
Indianapolis, IN - 1998 Indianapolis 500 Champion Eddie Cheever Jr. returned to the scene of his greatest career triumph Friday seeking another victory at the venerable Brickyard, but not in his #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car. Cheever, who claimed his first career True Value International Race of Champions victory at Michigan Speedway in June, earned a hard-fought seventh place finish at the final round of IROC competition in one of the series' identically-prepared Pontiac Firebirds.
Cheever, fifth in the IROC standings entering the Indianapolis season finale, started eighth but encountered immediate misfortune on lap 1 of the 40-lap sprint. "I turned into Turn 2 and was halfway around when all of a sudden I was into the wall," recounted Cheever. "I hit hard. In an Indy Car, I would have been a very unhappy guy."
The contact damaged the suspension on Cheever's gold machine, but a spin by Mark Dismore brought out the yellow flag and allowed Cheever to pit for repairs. "When I hit the wall, I broke the front suspension, and I had a lot of push," explained the Indy Racing veteran. "The IROC guys did a great job fixing the bodywork and getting me back on track. Dismore's bad luck definitely turned the day around for me. After the first lap, I was very fortunate to have any sort of run at all."
NASCAR veteran and four-time IROC series champion Mark Martin won the Indianapolis event, followed by Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt. Cheever's seventh place finish at Indy secured a fifth place result in the overall point standings, ahead of NASCAR standouts Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Rusty Wallace. Earnhardt Sr. captured the 2000 IROC series title, followed by Martin and Stewart in second and third place, respectively.
Cheever, an IROC series sophomore who finished seventh overall in 1999, is eager to participate in another season of True Value IROC competition. "This is a great series, and I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it," enthused Cheever. "It is an honor to compete in the IROC series, and I am hoping I have earned the right to be invited back. I still have a lot of learning to do here. There is definitely more room to grow."
The final round of the 2000 True Value International Race of Champions will be televised at 4:30pm EDT August 5 on ABC.
Cheever, who earned the first Indy Racing victory for the #51 Excite@Home team and the Infiniti Indy engine at Pikes Peak in June, is also in contention for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series title. He is currently second overall in the Indy Racing standings with two events remaining.