On race day Cheever sat on the grid in the middle of the fifth row, in the 14th position, going through his version of the routine known as "taking the air out of the balloon," a ritual that most drivers follow in one form or another to calm themselves before the start of a race. Things were settling down nicely until Cheever heard The Star-Spangled Banner. "I started thinking about all those people out there, where I was and what the start would be like, and pretty soon the balloon got so big it almost exploded," Cheever says, burying his face in his palms and shaking his head as he recalls the moment. Once the race got under way, he quickly calmed down and went on to finish eighth.
Cheever gets hyper all over again when he thinks about the coming Indy Car season. For one thing, the team will begin the season with a new car, not one left over from the previous year. And not only Cheever, but also much of the team had been learning the ropes in 1990. Team manager Anderson and chief-mechanic Chris Griffis were also rookies in their roles. "Now I find myself digging to the bottom of my soul, trying to get the most out of what I have available, because I know I have a chance to win," Cheever says. He squints to marvel at a hovering hummingbird and the snow-capped peaks of the mountains outside his Aspen home. "What I need now is a winning car, and my life will be exactly as I'd always planned."