Tomas Scheckter led the Infiniti-powered drivers in qualifying at Phoenix by turning the fifth fastest lap of MBNA Pole qualifications on Saturday. His best qualifying lap of 177.971 mph was his fastest of the weekend and places the No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti on the inside of the third row for the start of the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200.

In an ultra-competitive 25-car field, separated by only 1.29 seconds, Eddie Cheever Jr. will start 16th in the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara-Infiniti with a 173.975 mph lap. Once again Cheever was the slowest of the four Infiniti powered cars attempting to make the IRL field as Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Robbie Buhl qualified sixth and Conquest Racing's Laurent Redon 12th.

Scheckter meanwhile was pleased to be top of the Infiniti pile in qualifying for the second race in a row and is looking ahead to a controversy-free race on Sunday. "I am just glad to be the first Nissan on the grid," said the young South African who was the highest rookie finisher at Homestead two weeks ago despite punting teammate Cheever into the wall on just the third lap.

"My goal going into qualifying was to get in the top six and we got fifth, so I'm happy. We'll look for a good race tomorrow for Red Bull Cheever Racing. I'll take it easy in the beginning of the race, but not too easy. I want to make sure I get in a good position with a nice rhythm and work my way through the field. I just want to have a good race tomorrow. That's what counts. Driving on ovals is a new experience for me. I am enjoying it, but I'll enjoy it more when we are closer to the front."

Cheever was more resigned after his car continued to be loose in the blustery conditions saying; "Obviously, I am disappointed that we didn't qualify that well. We made a mistake with the gear ratios. The Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti is very good; we were just carrying a little too much drag. The strategy is the same for anybody here, if you are starting that far back, avoid trouble, make sure the car runs well the first 65 laps on full tanks, and try to guess where the track is going. It has been a long time since I qualified this poorly, but the car is good enough that we should be able to run well in the race."

On the race itself, Cheever predicted that Sunday's 200-lap event would be an exercise in patience with traffic set to be a problem all day. "It's going to be hard," said the 1998 Indy 500 winner. "At a bull ring like this there are a lot of cars that are going quick. The first six cars will be going at it tooth and nail at the beginning of the race. Hopefully I can catch up quickly somewhere in the middle of the run. The traffic will be very aggressive tomorrow."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...