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Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Updated: March 1, 10:24 PM ET
Cheever, 48, says he'll drive in at least four IRL races

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Eddie Cheever Jr. said Tuesday he will come out of retirement and drive in at least the first four Indy Racing League races, including the Indianapolis 500.

The 1998 Indy winner said he will drive the No. 51 Dallara/Honda/Firestone of his Indianapolis-based Cheever Racing team. The March 26 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida would be his first Indy-car competition since his retirement after the 2002 season, which included a victory by Cheever at Kansas Speedway.

Since then, Cheever's Indy-car involvement has been concentrated on his duties as a team owner.

"This shouldn't be a surprise, because I've never stopped driving," Cheever, 48, said in a statement released by Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I simply took a different role in our IRL operations the last few years."

Cheever returned to the cockpit last November for the Grand Prix Masters event in South Africa. He also drove for his Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series team last month in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team finished 17th overall at Daytona but was running in the top five, including leading at the 10-hour mark, until a mechanical failure two hours from the end of the 24-hour race.

"After our team's strong showing with the Crown Royal car at Daytona, I was excited about the prospect of driving again at Indy," Cheever said.

Cheever has six top-10 finishes in 13 Indianapolis 500 starts since 1990, when he was named Rookie of the Year after finishing eighth. He made 132 Formula One starts between 1978 and 1989 before moving to Indy cars.