IRL, Indy 500: Team Cheever Qualifying Notes
23 May 1999On the first day of the Indy 500 Qualifier, Team owner and defending Indy 500 Champion, Eddie Cheever, qualified his #51T Team Cheever/Children's Beverage Group Dallara Infiniti sixteenth with an average time of 221.315. Cheever's engine expired just after his final lap of the 4-lap qualifier.
Rookie Wim Eyckmans qualified his #52 EGP/Beaulieu of America Dallara Oldsmobile twenty-ninth with an average time of 220.092 mph. In the tradition of Bump Day, the final line-up will be set tomorrow evening at 6pm Central Time as teams continue to compete for the elusive 33 starting positions of the 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500, Sunday, May 30th. Team Cheever is in the process of converting Cheever's #51 Dallara Infiniti as a back-up for Eyckmans in case he must re-qualify on Bump Day.
Qualifying and "Bump Day
Qualifying for the Indy 500 can be a difficult and nerve wracking experience with each driver attempting to qualify his race car by performing two warm-up laps and then four consecutive timed (or "green") laps. The average time of the four laps become the official qualifying time for that car. Over the two day period, cars with lower times can be "bumped" (or eliminated) out of the qualifying grid by cars with better times. Once "bumped", the team can elect to move the driver to another car and attempt to "bump" a slower car out of the starting order. No further attempt can be made by a car that is already "qualified".
Eddie Cheever, Jr.
#51 Team Cheever/The Children's Beverage Group/Dallara/Goodyear/Infiniti
"I guess you could say we take the "Idiot of the Day" award. We were the first to qualify this morning and ended up doing a slightly slower time than this afternoon. This has been a very difficult day and the conditions have been impossible to judge. This morning's air was extremely heavy, with an east-west crosswind, fresh after the thunderstorms. That's Indianapolis! I guess you could say we should have taken it then, but the reality then was the weather just seemed to indicate that we'd have a chance at something better. We wanted a 222, the car was capable of a 223. We'll settle for the time we've got."
"I'm just glad this day is over. Running a 500-mile race is a cake walk compared to this. Now, we can concentrate on the important thing....defending our championship."
"The engine did expire at the end there, but we had had a lot of miles on it. I had a vibration the last two laps and wasn't sure we'd make the full four. We hadn't originally planned to qualify this car, but the balance was better than our primary. We entered into the agreement with Infiniti late in the game. We've pretty much compacted 6 months worth of work into a month and a half. I've purposely run these engines very hard in order to learn as much as we could as quickly as we could.
"Every year the rookies get faster. Wim did an excellent job today under very difficult circumstances. The racing gods remind you every day that they're the ones who make the final decisions. We will see how the day goes tomorrow, but Wim knows that this team stands behind him 150% and we'll do everything to get him in."