Cheever slams Sharp and Ray over driving

Eddie Cheever blasted Greg Ray and race-winner Scott Sharp for what he considered unsafe driving in the closing stages of Saturday night's Casino Magic 500 Indy Racing League race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Cheever slams Sharp and Ray over driving

The race featured some of the most thrilling side-by-side battles in Indy car history, including a three-wide battle for the lead in the third turn with 10 laps to go, with Ray getting the lead by taking the low line through the turn.

But, with four laps remaining, Ray piled into the slower car driven by Robby McGehee, causing a three-car crash that also took Cheever out of the race and sent McGehee to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas with a broken left leg and a concussion.

"It's not the accident, the point is the way Ray and Sharp were driving," Cheever said. "We're supposed to be friends out there. We compete. I wouldn't drive like that if I were trying to kill somebody. I think that's ridiculous. I believe that has to stop before we hurt somebody.

"Those guys are my friends. The only one who was driving with any sense in his head was Sam Hornish. He was hard to get by. He would hold his line, would drive you really deep, but he wouldn't move around. It looked like the driver of the 2 car (Ray) and the 8 car (Sharp) were literally trying to hurt somebody. It looked like they were on a mission to hurt somebody."

Ray has a reputation for being a hard-charging driver while Sharp is the IRL's career victory leader with six wins. Cheever, himself, has a reputation for being a hard racer and has been criticized by other drivers for blocking when he is leading a race.

"We are going to kill somebody if we drive like that," Cheever said. "The way Sharp and Ray were driving - and they are both friends of mine - they are going to kill somebody if they continue to drive that like that. That is ridiculous. I just came back from an IROC race where you bump and you push. I saw less of that in the IROC race. I saw less of that in a NASCAR race than there was here."

Cheever said he spoke with Brian Barnhart, the IRL's vice president of operations and the chief technical director, about the driving tactics used in Saturday night's race and said he doesn't want to come back if that type of racing continues.

"I understand defending your position," Cheever said. "That's moving to one side and defending it. I got moved by Sharp three lanes up. I had to get out of the way. He rammed me all the way up. Greg put me down to the white line. I was in the warm up lane."

Sharp was excited about winning the race and didn't believe his driving was unsafe.

"That's what makes this exciting," Sharp said. "That's why there are fans in the stands here because we aren't running around at 130 or 140 miles an hour. Lap after lap, when the hammer is to the board and you trying to do everything you can do to hang on, it's pretty quick. That's what makes it exciting. If you weren't flirting with it, it wouldn't be real exciting."

Ray said he was trying to protect his inside line when he was involved in the crash with McGehee. Ray started 20th but rocketed to the lead five times for 86 laps, more than any other driver in the race.

"I went below the white line, he moved over, and just as I was about to pass him, his left front hit my right rear," Ray said. "It was just one of those racing deals. It wasn't Robby McGehee's fault. I feel pretty bad for Eddie Cheever. He had a great race and was an innocent bystander in my deal.

"I knew anything could happen and unfortunately, it did. I was trying to guard the lower line and that's how it goes. I feel bad for Eddie Cheever. This is a racing deal, Robby drifted up a little bit and he moved back down. That's just the way it went. That was the stake in our heart."

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