Cheever Doubles Efforts

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Last week, Eddie Cheever Jr. announced that he had picked up Red Bull as a “major sponsor” for the 2002 Indy Racing League season. A week later, Cheever went a step further and said he’s planning on running two cars in 2002.

Whether the two are related is not known, but Cheever said the same thing last season, only to have a deal for a second car fall through. This time, Cheever sounds a bit more confident that his plans will play out.

“We will run a second car," Cheever said after testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday. “We're 99 percent sure. We will start testing some drivers probably 10 days from now. We have a list of eight, and we will narrow it down to five.”

Although he didn’t reveal any names, Scott Goodyear, Billy Boat, Johnny Herbert and Jeff Ward are four drivers who would fit in well at Cheever Indy Racing. Goodyear drove a second car for Cheever at Indianapolis, but was injured in a Lap 8 crash with Sarah Fisher.

Boat filled in for Goodyear as Cheever’s test driver after Indy and is rumored to be looking for a ride. Herbert has a connection to Red Bull as the test driver for the Formula One team carrying the energy drink’s colors, and Ward drove for Cheever in 1997 in the IRL.

While he shores up his driver corps, Cheever is also re-tooling his powerful Infiniti engine in the offseason.

At Indianapolis on Tuesday, Cheever completed 102 laps in the first day of a two-day private test at the Brickyard. His fast lap was 224.032 mph uder partly cloudy and cool conditions. Cheever struggled to find speed at the 2.5-mile oval in May, qualifying for the Indy 500 at 222.152 mph and finishing 26th after an electrical problem ended his day 108 laps into the race. He doesn’t want that to happen again this season.

“Our rev limiter was very bad all year,” said Cheever, who won once and finished the 2001 season eighth in points. “So we changed systems. We're trying to use the Magneti Marelli, and this is the first time we did that. We were behind them (Oldsmobile) a lot on how we ran the rev limiter, so hopefully we'll be able to get that extra 50 or 60 revs, and they seem to be working.”

Cheever also tested last week at IMS for Dallara. This week he is focusing primarily on the performance of the Infiniti engine.

“This time we came out and tried some things on the setup and did some work on the Infiniti engine, and tomorrow or the day after we will do our second and last 500 (mile) simulation,” Cheever said. “We had one successful one about two months ago, so this is a progression of that.

“In the racing season, it's very hard to test something in a cold and logical manner because you've got competition going on. You've got to go to the next practice session, and I'm not in the mood to try bizarre setups, whereas here we've tried a few things.”

Heritage Done: According to reports out of Indianapolis, Heritage Motorsports has closed its doors. The team competed in its first year of IRL competition this season without a major sponsor but still managed an 11th-place finish in the points.

Herbert tested the team’s car at Indianapolis last week and was a frontrunner for a seat with the team before its troubles forced a shutdown.

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Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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