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Cheever Gets It Right, Drives to IRL Victory

July 09, 2001|From Staff and Wire Reports

Through the first half of the Indy Racing League season, Eddie Cheever Jr.'s praise for his Infiniti engine was drowned out by the sound of Oldsmobiles propelling other drivers to victory.

On Sunday, Cheever finally got the last word.

"I had a secret weapon behind me today," said Cheever, who passed Sam Hornish Jr. with slightly more than two laps to go for his first victory of the season in the inaugural Ameristar Casino Indy 200 at the new Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.

"The Infiniti engine is finally where we want it to be. We've worked hard for the past three years."

Cheever also won at Pikes Peak last year with an Infiniti-powered car, but a succession of crashes this season had kept him out of victory lane and out of the top 10 in the points standings.

The 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner owns his car and receives backing from Infiniti but is racing without a major sponsor, "a situation that has to change," he said.

"We've never been right there at the end," said Cheever, whose fifth IRL victory prevented series champion Buddy Lazier from becoming only the second driver to win three consecutive events on the circuit.

It was the third consecutive second-place finish for Hornish, the IRL points leader. He took the lead from Cheever on the 191st of 200 laps on the 1 1/2-mile oval, but Cheever regained it approaching the fourth turn on the 198th. His .1976 of a second margin of victory was the fifth-closest in IRL history.

Pole-sitter Scott Sharp was running second and catching Cheever when he spun into the wall in the fourth turn on the 138th lap.

Canadian road-racing star Ron Fellows gained the lead with 29 laps left, withstood a late caution and easily beat Greg Biffle to win the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series Live Well 200 at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

It was the third victory in the last four years for Fellows in the event on the 11-turn, 2.45-mile road course. Fellows, who also finished second in 1999, won by 2.462 seconds in a Chevrolet.

Biffle held off series leader Kevin Harvick for second, and gained 10 points. He trails Harvick by 102 points in the standings.

The largest television audience for a prime-time NASCAR race watched Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s victory at the site of his father's death.

The Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 in Daytona Beach, Fla., drew a 5.8 overnight rating Saturday night on NBC, which was airing its first race under a $2.8-billion NASCAR TV rights deal it shares with TNT and Fox.

That means 5.8% of the television households in the country's 50 largest markets were tuned in. Overnight ratings measure about 60% of the country. That preliminary rating represents a 41% increase from last year's Pepsi 400 broadcast by CBS.

Yachting

The three Division I boats in the 41st Transpacific Yacht Race made bold moves in their seventh day of sailing from Los Angeles to Honolulu and positioned themselves for a sprint to the finish line today.

Philippe Kahn's Pegasus went 335 miles in the previous 24 hours at Sunday's roll call, and had 404 miles remaining to reach the finish of the 2,225-mile race. Pegasus is eight miles ahead of Roy E. Disney's Pyewacket, and 14 ahead of Bob McNulty's Chance.

They also surpassed Seth Radow's Bull, a Division IV entry from Marina del Rey, for fastest handicapped time, meaning that the Division I winner could become only the fourth boat in modern Transpac history to sweep--finishing first in its division, fastest elapsed time and fastest corrected time. The last to sweep was McNulty in 1991 in his original Chance.

Other division leaders based on handicap time are Grand Illusion in Division II, Cantata in Division III, Willow Wind in Aloha A, and Axapac in Aloha B.

Soccer

Argentina defeated Ghana, 3-0, at Buenos Aires to win a record fourth under-20 World Youth championship.

Argentina took the lead with a sixth-minute goal by defender Diego Colotto and tournament top scorer Javier Saviola headed in the second in the 14th minute. Maxmiliano Rodriguez scored the third in the 72nd minute.

It was Coach Jose Pekerman's third youth cup title in seven years. Argentina also won the trophy in 1979, 1995 and 1997.

Julie Murray scored in the 80th minute as the Bay Area CyberRays (5-4-3) defeated the New York Power (6-2-5), 1-0, in a WUSA game at San Jose before 8,001, ending the Power's six-match unbeaten streak.

Mercy Akide scored two goals as the San Diego Spirit (4-5-4) extended their unbeaten streak to four matches with a 3-1 victory over the Boston Breakers (3-6-3) before 5,739 at San Diego.

Miscellany

David Reid of Philadelphia, the former junior-middleweight champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, won a unanimous decision in his latest super-middleweight fight but it was anything but impressive.

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