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Cheever Wins Indy 200 After Stewart Crashes Out and Rain Falls

Rain called a halt to the Indy 200 at the Walt Disney World Speedway, Florida, on Sunday - the opening race for the new look Indy Racing League - Round 3 of the 1996/97 season, writes James Beckett.

Although Tony Stewart had dominated practically the entire race, leading 131 laps, it was Grand Prix veteran Eddie Cheever who was leading the race when the rain fell and the race stopped.

Cheever, driving his own FirstPlus Team Cheever G-Force-Aurora, picked up the lead of the race only four laps prior to the stoppage after Tony Stewart's team Menard Glidden/Menard Special G-Force-Aurora crashed in Turn 3 due to an oil leak.

The win was Cheever's first single seat victory since 1979 and he was obviously delighted. "I saw Tony come out of the pits and when I saw him come out of Turn 2 there was smoke coming off his tyres. He then skidded sidewards and I went past into the lead."

Cheever continued, "This was one of the most enjoyable races I've ever had - not worrying about the turbo was great. Because these cars are easier to drive, it's a lot more fun out there."

Mike Groff, the IRL points leader, was classified second in his Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria Bryant Heating & Cooling G-Force-Nissan-Infiniti, while League debutant Scott Goodyear took third in his Treadway NORTEL-G-Force-Aurora.

Groff was pleased with his second place spot despite the limited test mileage of Nissan's Infiniti Indy V-8 engine. "We went into the race really conservative, not knowing what we were up against. We just didn't want to go up in flames."

The series moves to its fourth race, the Phoenix 200, at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway on March 23rd.

Result of Indy 200 - Walt Disney World Speedway

1. Eddie Cheever 149 Laps
2. Mike Groff 149
3. Scott Goodyear 149
4. Scott Sharp 149
5. Buddy Lazier 149
6. Jim Guthrie 148
7. Davey Hamilton 148
8. Marco Greco 147
9. Fermin Velez 147
10. Tony Stewart 146 Accident Turn 3
11. Buzz Calkins 144 Engine
12. Arie Luyendyk 97 Accident
13. Danny Ongais 94 Suspension
14. Jeret Schroeder 93 Accident Turn 1
15. Jack Miller 85 Suspension
16. Jeff Ward 63 Gearbox
17. Roberto Guerrero 56 Fuel Pump
18. John Paul Jnr. 46 Oil Pump
19. Stephan Gregoire 2 Fuel Pump

Lap Leaders

1-130 No. 2 Tony Stewart
131-144 No. 12 Buzz Calkins
145 No. 2 Tony Stewart
146-149 No. 51 Eddie Cheever

Caution Flags

99-106 No. 30 Schroeder and No. 5 Luyendyk T1
146-149 No. 2 Stewart Accident T3
150 Rain, red flag


1996-1997 IRL Points Standings After Indy 200

1. Mike Groff 96
2. Buzz Calkins 86
3. Scott Sharp 85
4. Davey Hamilton 82
5. Marco Greco 81
6. Roberto Guerrero 78
7. Tony Stewart 66
8. Eddie Cheever 65
9. Jim Guthrie 63
10. Arie Luyendyk 62

James Beckett.

 1996 onwards. Speed and its contents may not be reproduced without written permission from the editorial team.