IRL, Indy 500: Infiniti Indy Engines Power Three Indianapolis 500 Starters
24 May 1999Cheever, Guerrero and Schroeder Wear the Infiniti Badge at Indy
INDIANAPOLIS- The starting grid was finalized today for the 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500 with three Infiniti Indy-powered cars in the field-two more cars than the Pep Boys Indy Racing League engine manufacturer had in last year's race.
Eddie Cheever Jr. is the top Infiniti driver in the field, starting from the inside of row six with the No. 51 Team Cheever/The Children's Beverage Group Infiniti/Dallara/Goodyear. His qualifying speed of 221.315 mph was 3.5 mph faster than the top Infiniti in last year's field. Cheever feels comfortable with his 16th place starting spot.
"I'm not worried about starting in the middle of the pack," Cheever said. "We won last year from 17th place."
Starting from the outside of the seventh row from 21st position, Jeret Schroeder will start his first Indianapolis 500 ever. Driving the No. 96 Purity Farms/CBR Cobb Racing Infiniti/G Force/Firestone, Schroeder's four-lap average speed of 220.747 mph was the second-best performance for an Infiniti Indy driver.
"This is what I've waited for all my racing career," said Schroeder. "Due to the history and tradition, this is where the best of the best have raced, and I'm proud that I'm going to be on that list."
The final Infiniti Indy entry in the field for the Indy 500 is veteran Roberto Guerrero in the No. 50 CBR Cobb Racing/Motor Trend Infiniti/G Force/Firestone. Guerrero, who finished fourth for Infiniti at Texas last year, will start from the 25th position with a qualifying speed of 220.479 mph.
"I am glad for Infiniti, they have worked very hard and have come a long way," said Guerrero, who will start his 15th Indy 500 next weekend. "The important thing now is to do well in the race."
In the days leading up to qualifying, the Infiniti Indy was in the top ten of the daily speed charts on five of the seven days of practice. The fastest speed all month for the Infiniti Indy power plant was 224.193 mph posted by Eddie Cheever on Thursday, May 20. In all, Infiniti Indy teams ran over 7,000 miles during the nine days of track activity in preparation for the Indianapolis 500.
"Compared to last year, we came to Indianapolis with a much more powerful and lighter engine," said Honsowetz, about the production-based Infiniti Indy V8 which is 31 horsepower stronger and ten pounds lighter than it was in the 1998 Indy 500.
"Our qualifying results are an absolute improvement over last year," Honsowetz continued. "We recognize how competitive this series is and that was demonstrated this weekend with only five miles per hour separating the field. We've made good inroads with the speeds we ran during practice. Unfortunately, we weren't as quick in qualifying. We plan to keep plugging away at this until we get it right one hundred percent of the time, and even then we'll keep working."
Track activity continues on Thursday, May 27 with Carburation Day, the final day of practice before the race. The 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500 will start at Noon (EDT) on Sunday, May 24. The event will be televised live on ABC Sports.