Back on familiar turf

Ohio native Hornish
has enjoyed success at Sparta

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(August 2007) – Defiance, Ohio’s Sam Hornish Jr. returns Aug. 11 to the Kentucky Speedway to try and build on his winning legacy there. Hornish has enjoyed much success at Kentucky, after having won there in 2003 and 2006 and placing second in 2002 and third in 2001. In fact, he owns the race speed record of 197.897 mph from his 2003 victory. He also earned the pole position in 2003.
Hornish will try to outrun the field once again to capture the “Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Edy’s” title.

Sam Hornish Jr.

Photo courtesy of the IRL

Sam Hornish Jr. has
won an unprecedented
three IndyCar Series
championships, including
the 2006 season and
holds the record for the
most wins, with 19.

Hornish claimed an unprecedented third IndyCar Series championship last season. He also won victories at the 90th Indianapolis 500, Richmond and Kansas and claimed four poles. He led 10 of the 14 races for 655 laps, tied for a series-high nine top-five finishes and earned more than $3.8 million in race winnings.
His 2007 season has not been quite so stellar; in late July he was ranked fifth in point standings, although he did win the June 9 Bombardier Learjet 550K at the Texas Motor Speedway.
Hornish, who drives the No. 6 Honda-Dallara for Team Penske, also posted a career-best road course finish this season on July 9 at the Camping World Watkins Glen Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International. He finished second to Scott Dixon.
“I have to give it to all my guys at Team Penske,” he said. “We’ve felt for a long time that we should have been getting these top-fives on the road courses, but we haven’t been able to get the job done.”
He has been getting the job done, however, on the oval. Now in his eighth season in the IRL IndyCar Series, Hornish has 60 top-five finishes, 77 top-10 finishes and 12 poles in 110 starts. At 28 years old, he is the series’ all-time leader in wins, with 19. He is also the leader in laps led, with 3,336.
While Indy Cars remain his focus, he has branched into other racing areas. He has competed in the International Race of Champions Series, Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, and he has recently competed in a limited NASCAR Busch Series schedule.
He actually began his race career with go-carts at age 11. In 1994, at age 15, his winning tradition began when he took the checkered flag in 19 of 55 starts on his way to win the World Karting Association’s U.S. Grand National Championship.
He moved to Formula Ford cars in 1996 and spent 21/2 seasons in the U.S. Formula Ford 2000 Series before moving to the Toyota Atlantic Championship.
Even though Hornish is a world-class racer, he has not forgotten his roots; he still spends his free time bowling and playing poker with his hometown friends and family in Ohio.
As usual for race car drivers, Hornish loves anything involving speed. He rides his Harley Davidson “Fat Boy,” Big Dog Motorcycle or Honda CBR1000RR whenever he can, and has recently developed an interest in boats.
Hornish married Crystal Liechty in Indianapolis on June 5, 1994, and they live in a home they renovated themselves. Their residence includes a 225-square-foot media room to watch one of more than 350 DVDs they have in their collection. Among his favorite movies are “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Prestige” and “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

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