Monday, August 18, 2003

Hornish's victory is a quick one

By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sam Hornish Jr. steaks down the backstretch en route to his victory in the Belterra Casino Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway, Sparta.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
SPARTA, Ky. - Sam Hornish, Jr. doesn't know what his plans are for next year - whether he'll stick with Panther Racing and the Indy Racing League or not.

He just knows he wants to become a racing legend.

On Sunday at Kentucky Speedway, in front of 54,225 people, he continued that dream.

Hornish won the fastest race in IRL IndyCar history, finishing the Belterra Casino Indy 300 with an average speed of 197.897 mph. He started on the pole and dominated the entire race, leading 181 laps of the 200-lap race for his first win of the season. He now holds the record for career IndyCar Series victories, with nine.

"I was pretty relaxed about today," Hornish said. "The guys did an awesome job in the pits. The car was handling very well ... I just tried to stretch as much of a lead as I could."

After 100 laps, Hornish was 8.5 seconds ahead of second-place Scott Dixon, of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and had lapped all drivers except Dixon and Team Penske's Helio Castroneves.

"When they said, 'He's coming to lap you,' I couldn't believe it," said Bryan Herta, who finished third. "That's a little disheartening."

Hornish was averaging nearly 211.5 mph when the only caution flag of the race was waved on lap 147 because of a fire on Kenny Brack's car.

The caution went on for only 10 laps, but it allowed Herta and Dixon to get back in the race.

Hornish finished the race 1.17 seconds ahead of Dixon, who finished nearly 15 seconds ahead of Herta. Al Unser, Jr. was fourth, and Castroneves finished fifth.

"We got stuck there in a big group for a while," Dixon said. "This was pretty much all we had today ... Second place, you can't complain."

It was the first win of the season in the first full race for Chevrolet's new Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 engine. Hornish had tested the engine in his close second-place finish at Michigan.

It was also Hornish's first win since October of last year, when he won the season finale in Texas to secure his second straight series championship.

Sunday's win kept Hornish in the hunt for a third series title. He sits 77 points behind leader Tony Kanaan, who kept his lead with a sixth-place finish Sunday.

Hornish, who started racing go-karts at 11 years old, said he likely will announce his plans for the future by the end of August.

"You start off as an amateur, you move to a professional, then you move to a race winner, you move to a champion, and someday, you hope to be a legend," Hornish said. "You try to associate yourself however you can to be able to put yourself in those shoes."



Belterra Casino Indy 300 Results

Sunday At Kentucky Speedway

Lap length: 1.5 miles

1. (1) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Chevy, 200, $148,000.

2. (2) Scott Dixon, Panoz G Force-Toyota, 200, $94,750.

3. (13) Bryan Herta, Dallara-Honda, 200, $97,500.

4. (8) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Toyota, 199, $63,600.

5. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Toyota, 199, $55,400.

6. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 199, $47,100.

7. (6) Robbie Buhl, Dallara-Chevy, 199, $45,800.

8. (14) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 199, $44,600.

9. (4) Gil de Ferran, Dallara-Toyota, 199, $44,600.

10. (7) Tomas Scheckter, Panoz G Force-Toyota, 199, $43,300.

11. (10) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Chevy, 198, $42,400.

12. (16) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, 198, $40,700.

13. (18) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Toyota, 198, $40,600.

14. (9) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Chevy, 198, $38,100.

15. (5) Greg Ray, Panoz G Force-Honda, 197, $38,000.

16. (20) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Chevy, 196, $35,700.

17. (19) A.J. Foyt IV, Panoz G Force-Toyota, 196, $34,400.

18. (12) Tora Takagi, Dallara-Toyota, 196, $34,400.

19. (15) Kenny Brack, Dallara-Honda, 146, oil leak, $33,100.

20. (17) Alex Barron, Panoz G Force-Toyota, 104, fuel pump, $31,900.

21. Vitor Meira, Dallara-Chevy, 0, did not start, $31,900.

Race Statistics

Winner's average speed: 197.897 mph.

Time of race: 1:29:44.6120.

Margin of victory: 1.1712 seconds.

Cautions: 1 for 10 laps.

Lead changes: 9 among 5 drivers.

Lap leaders: Hornish 1-54, Castroneves 55, Kanaan 56-57, Takagi 58-60, Hornish 61-108, Castroneves 109-112, Herta 113, Kanaan 114, Takagi 115-121, Hornish 122-200.

Point Standings

1, Kanaan 385. 2, Castroneves 377. 3, Dixon 373. 4, de Ferran 372. 5, Hornish 308. 6, Unser 291. 7, Brack 279. 8, Scheckter 266. 9, Sharp 262. 10, Takagi 241.

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