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Indy Racing League

Sunday, September 8

Cheever: Castroneves was blocking

Eddie Cheever
Helio Castroneves
JOLIET, Ill. -- After finishing fifth in Sunday's Delphi Indy 300, Eddie Cheever was in an angry mood, accusing Helio Castroneves of blocking late in the race.

"I want to sit down with Brian (IRL vice president of operations Brian Barnhart) and show him the last laps with Helio Castroneves," Cheever said. "I want Brian's opinion on whether or not that is blocking. He totally moved me under the white line. Those aren't the rules of the game. I am not willing to do that."

Cheever twice tried to pass race winner Sam Hornish Jr. on the outside as Hornish and Al Unser Jr. battled side-by-side for the lead. As Cheever worked to find another line behind the two, Castroneves forced him low.

"I almost went off the track five or six times," Cheever said. "You make mistakes sometimes, but what Castroneves did lap after lap was intentional, silly and dangerous."

Rice race
Buddy Rice
After starting second and leading once for 22 laps, rookie Buddy Rice settled for ninth place. He got shuffled back in the mad scramble at the end.

"We led a little bit early in the race to see what the car could do," Rice said. "We were pretty happy with it. On the third pit stop, we went back a little bit, but we charged back for the last pit stop. I made a mistake there and came in too hot and put the car off the marks. That really messed us up for the final run because it put us so far back.

"I tried to move up to the front, and four of them wouldn't move. They all want to run side by side and you can't pass them. When I would try to pass them, they were blocking. We charged to the front twice and led a little bit, so the Red Bull Cheever Racing team gave me a good car today. I made a mistake in the pits, and that's what cost us as far as I am concerned."

Well done for Wheldon
English driver Dan Wheldon made his IRL debut and finished 10th for Pennzoil Panther Racing.

"It's not what I would have liked, but it was a complete learning experience," Wheldon said. "I actually think we would have been a little better off had I not clipped the back of Robbie Buhl. From that moment on, I could never get the balance to how I wanted it.

"The Pennzoil Panther team did a fantastic job. The Chevrolet engines were really good when I needed them. We'll just use that experience to our benefit at Texas."

Castroneves loses lead
Castroneves entered Sunday's race with a one-point lead over Gil de Ferran and an eight-point cushion over Hornish in the battle for the IRL championship. But with Hornish winning the race and leading the most laps, Castroneves fell 12 points behind Hornish heading into next week's season finale at Texas Motor Speedway.

Castroneves started 21st on Sunday and rallied for a fourth-place finish.

"I owe this finish to great work by my Marlboro Team Penske crew," Castroneves said. "If it weren't for them, I would have finished much farther back. We had fantastic pit stops all day, which helped me gain valuable track position. The car was handling really well in traffic and I was flat-out, but we just didn't have what it took to win. The key thing is that we are still in the championship hunt going into the last race at Texas. I finished fourth at our first race there, so hopefully we'll be able to get the job done next weekend."

Panther to field IPS team in '03
Panther Racing will expand in 2003 to field a team in the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, with Mark Taylor driving. Taylor, a 24-year-old from London, will run the full season in the IRL development series for Panther, which fields IRL cars for defending champion Hornish and Wheldon.

Taylor is driving this year for Manor Motorsport in British Formula 3.

"We've always wanted to grow the team, and we've taken our time," said Gary Pedigo, Panther co-owner. "We've never wanted to do anything if you can't do it right. With this program, we're going to do it right."

Taylor has recorded two victories this season, both at Silverstone. He is sixth in the series standings.

"Coming over to America was the best opportunity for me for next year," Taylor said. "I was very excited to talk with (Panther co-owner) John Barnes about the Infiniti Pro and with the prospect of working with Panther Racing. As far as next year, working with them is the best thing because I want to move into the IRL. And this series is a good way of getting into that."

Taylor also drove in British F3 in 2001, finishing ninth in the standings. He won the European Formula Ford championship and finished second in the 2000 British Formula Ford championship.

Taylor raced in British Formula Ford in 1999 after driving in Formula Vauxhall Junior in 1998. championship there."

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