“Meijer 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret”

Hornish right at home in the Bluegrass

His quick pit stops and crafty restart in final laps
puts him in Victory Lane and back into IRL contention

From the Kentucky Speedway

SPARTA, Ky. (Aug. 13, 2006) – Sam Hornish Jr. capitalized on a caution restart with six laps remaining in the Aug. 13 “Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret” and raced away from an evenly-matched four-car lead pack to take his second career IRL IndyCar Series win at Kentucky Speedway by 0.5866 of a second over Scott Dixon.

KSP September 2006 Cover

September 2006
Kentucky Speedway Cover

Hornish Jr., who collected his first win at the track from the pole position in 2003, took the final of a series track record 23 lead changes on Lap 196 of 200 when he guided his No. 6 Penske Racing car past the No. 9 Ganassi Racing machine of Scott Dixon on the high line near the start-finish line and led the closing five laps to seal the victory.
“We had a really good car on the restarts,” Hornish Jr., said. “We picked out pretty much the perfect gears, and when we came up to speed I was able to get up beside Scott and to get around him. I didn’t think I was going to be able to pull that far away from him, but the car just handled. We were fast when we needed to be and saved fuel when we needed to.”
Race polesitter Helio Castroneves drove to a third-place finish, Dan Wheldon placed fourth and Andretti Green Racing veteran Tony Kanaan closed out the top-five.
The victory was Hornish Jr.’s fourth of the season and helps him move past his Penske Racing teammate Castroneves for the lead in the series championship standings. Hornish Jr., held a seven-point lead over the second-place Castroneves entering the series next tilt at Infineon Raceway Aug. 27.
Dixon delivered his seventh top-five and 10th top-10 finish of the season through 12 races. He held on to the fourth position in the championship standings but lost two points in the overall picture in the Aug. 13 race and was 33 points behind Hornish Jr.

Sam Hornish Jr.

Photo by Don Ward

Sam Hornish Jr. celebrates his second
career victory at the Kentucky Speedway,
winning the “Meijer 300” on Aug. 13.

“I was definitely upset when Sam passed and just chopped me off,” Dixon said of Hornish Jr.’s move to take his final race lead. “Going into Turn 1, he just came down. If I didn’t lift I would’ve hit him or I would have spun.
“I think our restart gears were totally different than his. It took us a lap or two to get going and he seemed to get speed straight away. (We gained) good points (today), but we really needed to win to try and gain on the championship. Hopefully, going to Infineon, we can gain a little more.”
The Penske and Ganassi Racing tandems were the class of the field throughout the event. Dixon, Castroneves, Hornish Jr., and Wheldon exchanged leads and track position on several occasions while separating themselves from the fifth-place car by as many as 10 seconds throughout the opening 52 race laps.
The first caution of the race broke up the lead quartet on Lap 56 when the No. 20 Vision Racing car of Ed Carpenter spun at pit exit, catching Hornish Jr. and Castroneves on pit road while Wheldon and Dixon remained on the track.

Hornish at a glance

• Sam Hornish Jr. took his second win, fourth top-five and sixth top-10
Kentucky Speedway finish through seven starts at the track. His first win
was in 2003 when he led 181 of 200 race laps. Hornish, Jr., led 66 laps
on Aug. 13.
• Hornish Jr. and Penske Racing teammate Helio Castroneves, who finished
third at Kentucky, are tied for series lead in top-five finishes at Kentucky
Speedway with four.
• Hornish Jr. holds the series track record for top-10 finishes with six.
• The 23 lead changes was a new series track record. The previous
record was set at 16 in 2005.
• Hornish Jr. has now led 297, or 21 percent, of the 1,400 IRL IndyCar
Series race laps completed at the Kentucky Speedway.
• Eight lead drivers ranks second all-time through seven series events at the
Kentucky Speedway. The standing record of nine lead drivers was set in 2000.
• Four caution periods is the second-lowest for an IRL IndyCar Series
Kentucky Speedway race. The series track record is one from Hornish Jr.’ s
2003 win.

Castroneves and Hornish Jr. emerged from the pits in ninth and 10th-place, respectively, on Lap 59 and began their march back toward the front. Both made it back into the race top 10 on Lap 77 when Hornish Jr. occupied sixth and Castroneves held down eighth place. They entered the top-five to stay on Lap 121 when Hornish Jr. took the lead and Castroneves raced in fifth place.
“We just had an unbelievable day,” Hornish Jr. said. “We had only really one hiccup, which is when we pitted and the yellow flag came out. We had to work our way up through the traffic and the car was very good. Two things won the race today: One thing was patience and the other thing was pit stops that the guys gave me.”
Hornish Jr. led a total of 57 laps on the day and was second in that category to Wheldon, who led a race-high 66 laps. He fell out of contention for the race win on the final pit stop of the day when he parked his No. 10 Ganassi Racing car too far away from the fuel hose on a Lap 185 pit stop. The extra time the team took to reposition the car proved to be the difference for Wheldon.
Media darling Patrick ran a steady race but never moved close to the front.
“It was a tough day, and I certainly don’t think my day was horrible,” she said afterward. “The car was pretty fast at the end, and that is a tribute to the guys, who worked really hard. We picked up a top-10 result, and I probably could have been a couple of spots higher, but I got chopped pretty bad late in the race. Actually, there were a lot of people driving desperate today. Sure, we intimidate each other, but there is a certain code, and today that was thrown out the window. Considering how bad things were at the end of warm-up, we have to be happy with this result.”
The official race attendance was 35,814. The event closed the 2006 Kentucky Speedway season.

Back to 2006 Kentucky Speedway Articles.



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