Cheever's revenge

Posted by Iannucci | 2/02/2008 | 4 comments »
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The Andretti Green team scored a major coup last week by signing the tremendous talent of Raphael Matos to their Indy Pro team, but in responding defending IPS champion team Sam Schmidt Motorsports has not only lined up their own quality driver but also have created an instant rivaly for the 2008 season.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports has announced today that it has signed two-time Indy Pro Series race winner Richard Antinucci to drive a team car in the 2008 Indy Pro Series campaign.

In 2007, driving for his uncle, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, Eddie Cheever, Antinucci made nine starts in the Indy Pro Series, all at non-oval venues.

As the season ended, Antinucci became a hot driver having placed in the top five in his last four races, including two wins and a second-place finish.

(MORE from Sam Schmidt Motorsports)
Yeah he's really good, but what makes this all the more interesting is the previously vocal grudge match involving the sniping between Eddie Cheever Jr and the Andretti family. While Cheever's chances at winning declined when the better financed AGR team jumped from the CCWS to the IRL, it didn't stop him from having on-track incidents and taking off-track verbal jabs at the Andrettis.

Most famous was Old Man Cheever's quote after colliding with Marco Andretti at Watkins Glen in 2006. "The last I looked, I earned the label of Indy 500 champion; those lobbing unfounded accusations at me have not." You could feel the love.

Despite the fact that neither of them have ever competed on an oval, the quality of their teams and their previous accomplishments on the track sets both Antinucci (who most certainly must be one of my distant relatives) and Matos as the IPS favorites heading into the new season. An incident or two between these two may go far in not only devloping their talents but also in the storyline between the Cheever and Andretti two families.

Of course, since both families are Italian-American we can also expect someone like Jack Arute to use a "Godfather" or "Sopranos" reference at some point this season.

4 comments

  1. Michael // February 02, 2008 11:42 AM  

    OK, this has been bugging me for awhile now, but how is it, when the IndyCar series is struggling to get 20 a race, the IndyPro series seems to be at about 30, with more coming every day seemingly? You'd think one of these non-farm team powerhouses (Yes, I'm looking at you, Schmidt) would finally make the leap. With the expansion of the AGR and RLR partnerships with their respective farm teams, how long is it until most of IndyPro is affiliated with a team in IndyCar, ala baseball?

  2. Doug Patterson // February 02, 2008 1:24 PM  

    "expect someone like Jack Arute to use a "Godfather" or "Sopranos" reference"

    LOL!!! I can so see Arute doing an imitation of Eddie, "Are you talkin' to me?" It should be interesting at any rate.
    --

    Regarding the higher numbers in IPS, its cheaper to run there than in ICS. Running a full-season ICS team requires a much more significant financial commitment than for IPS, so its easier for many small teams to compete. As for SSR, if they were to move to ICS, they'd be mid-pack along with Panther, Vision, and RLR. Right now they're the alpha dog in IPS. I'm sure that has as effect on their decision process as well.

  3. pressdog // February 03, 2008 6:26 AM  

    It's amazing what happens when it doesn't cost a bazillion a year to race, let alone compete. Unfortunately, the no-pit-stop IPS races aren't that entertaining since they tend to last about 23 minutes. Letting them pit causes more expense (gotta hire a pit crew) but still. Then you're creating a minor leagues for pit crews as well who can be available to work for existing or new ICS teams. Arute is already practicing. "That's why they call Antinucci (leaning extremely close to the mic) THE GODFATHER ... back to you guys." Finally, this Richard Antinucci guy is actually Jeff Iannucci. The spellings are just too similar to be ignored!

  4. mmack // February 04, 2008 8:47 AM  

    Jeff,

    I don't know if you remember (since I don't know how long you've been an open wheel fan), but the feud between the Andrettis and Cheever has been going on since 1992. That would be when Cheever closed the door on Andretti 1.0 at Long Beach and took both of them out of the race. This is where Eddie got the nickname "Eddie Cleaver" for the propensity to chop off other drivers. So like all GOOD blood feuds, this has been simmering for a long time. >:^)