Cheever Bullish On Scheckter
February 26, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
A month later, the team finally confirmed that Scheckter would drive the Red Bull-sponsored Dallara-Infiniti. The team made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.
“The speed at which Tomas adapted to oval racing is impressive,” said Richard Caron, the team’s general manager. “After only one day of testing at Las Vegas, he went to California Speedway and was fastest of the day in the Test in the West. At the more technical Phoenix oval, his European training allowed him to work efficiently with our engineers producing times in the Top 5.
“He is similar in driving style and determination as Eddie (Cheever). This was a difficult decision considering all the talent on the market right now, but Cheever and Scheckter are a perfect mix for this team.”
Cheever also auditioned Jeff Ward, Buddy Rice and Daniel Wheldon for his No. 52, but Scheckter was most impressive. In addition to leading the open testing at California Speedway on Feb. 6, Scheckter was in the Top 5 in the final two days of testing at Phoenix International Raceway. Al Unser Jr. was also considered for Cheever’s open seat.
“Joining Red Bull Cheever Racing is an unbelievable opportunity,” Scheckter said. “Two months ago I never would have imagined I would be in this position. I am lucky to be driving in the Indy Racing League with one of the best teams on pit lane.”
Cheever was impressed by Scheckter’s speed and quick adjustment to ovals, but it is other traits that most impress him.
“Tomas did very well in testing, but he is still an unknown,” Cheever said. “What we do know is that he is single minded and determined to do everything necessary to be successful in racing. The fact that he is in the best physical condition of any driver we tested is proof of that. His focus is so intense he is truly the only driver in the history of the IRL with serious Formula One aspirations.”
Scheckter is the son of 1979 Formula One World Champion Jody Scheckter. His experience includes racing karts, Formula 3, Formula 3000 and Formula One as a test driver for Jaguar Racing. He was the runner up in the 2001Formula Nissan Championship and the 2000 British Formula 3 series. He also won two races in the 2000 FIA Formula 3000 series.
Fisher Sitting Out Homestead
Barring a last-minute sponsorship deal, Indy Racing League driver Sarah Fisher will be sitting out this weekend’s season-opening Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Fisher, voted the IRL’s most popular driver last season, has no sponsor for her No. 15 Derrick Walker-owned car.
“It will be bittersweet to be at Homestead and not be in the race car,” Fisher said. “But I believe it's important to show my interest in the IRL by being at the race track. I can still learn a lot at Homestead even though I won't be in the car by watching the other drivers and teams on the track, and who knows, maybe a potential sponsor may be at the speedway.”
Fisher finished second in the IRL’s inaugural race in Homestead, Fla., last season, making her absence that much more difficult to swallow. The runner-up run is the best of her two-year IRL career.
Although she won’t be in a car, Fisher will take part in an autograph session at 5:15 p.m. (ET) Friday in the Homestead-Miami Speedway garage area. Before the race, the IRL Crew fan club will present Fisher with its Most Popular Driver Award.
Fisher, 21, made her debut in the IRL in the 1999 season finale at Texas Motor Speedway with Team Pelfrey. She moved on to Walker Racing in 2000 and 2001. She finished 18th in the points in 2000 and 2001.
Fisher holds many records in her short IRL career, including youngest driver (19 in 1999), first female driver, best finisher by a female driver (second in 2001) and best start by a female driver (second in 2001).
She has led nine laps in the IRL, all coming at Kentucky Speedway in 2000.
Luyendyk Enters Indy 500
The 86th Indianapolis 500 is three months away, but that’s not stopping Indy Racing League teams from thinking about this year’s running of the historic race May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The first entry for the Indy 500 has already been received, and it is fitting that the first team to field a driver for the race, Treadway & Associates Racing, is based in Indianapolis. The team, which also filed first last year, named Arie Luyendyk on its entry filed Feb. 25.
Treadway will field a primary and backup No. 5 G Force-Chevy for Luyendyk, a two-time Indy 500 winner, with sponsorship from Meijer.
Luyendyk, from Scottsdale, Ariz., will attempt to win the Indianapolis 500 for the third time. He would join elite company with a third victory, as only eight drivers have accomplished that feat.
Luyendyk, 48, won at Indy in 1990 and 1997, taking the second title with Treadway Racing. He won the pole at Indy in 1993, 1997 and 1999 and holds nearly every major speed record at the track. He will attempt to make his 17th Indy 500 start.
Also, Team Green and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entered the Indy 500.
CART's Team Green entered Michael Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entered Robbie Buhl.
Andretti is seeking his 13th Indy start and first Indy win. Tracy is making his first trip to Indy since 1995, while Dario Franchitti will be racing as a rookie.
Buhl is going for his seventh straight Indy 500 start.
Entry invitations were mailed Feb. 22, and entries must be postmarked by April 3. All drivers will compete for one of the 33 starting spots.