Cheever Flies At Fontana
March 23, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Cheever's best lap was 32.5171 seconds, 221.422 mph in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone on the 2-mile oval. Cheever's previous best starting spot in 57 previous Indy Racing starts was second last July at Kansas Speedway for the Ameristar Casino Indy 200, an event he won with Infiniti power.
Jaques Lazier, who lives just a few miles from the track, earned the outside spot on the front row with a lap of 32.5926, 220.909 in the No. 2T Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.
The historic pole capped a strong qualifying session for Infiniti-powered drivers, who captured four of the top six spots in the starting field. Cheever's teammate, rookie Tomas Scheckter, was third at 32.7778, 219.661 in the No. 51T Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, Robbie Buhl was fifth at 32.8366, 219.268 in the No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone, and rookie Laurent Redon was a career-best sixth at 32.8751, 219.011 in the No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.
Buhl's strong run was bittersweet, however, as he crashed into the outside retaining wall between Turns 1 and 2 immediately after his final lap. He was awake and alert and responding to commands while being transported via air to Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif., for further evaluation