Spotlight shines on Hornish, Foyt IV at Championship gala.

CHICAGO, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2002 -- Sam Hornish Jr., A.J. Foyt IV and their respective teams earned top honors Oct. 5 during the 2002 Indy Racing League Championship Celebration at the House of Blues in Chicago.

Hornish and his Pennzoil Panther Racing teammates were presented with the Indy Racing League Cup and a $1-million bonus for their second consecutive IRL championship, while Foyt was awarded the Firestone Firehawk Cup for winning the inaugural championship of the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, the IRL's new development series.

Actor Orlando Jones was the host of the annual championship gala, which took place in Chicago for the first time. The theme of the evening was "The Art of Racing."

Hornish, 23, from Defiance, Ohio, won a league-record five races in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, becoming the first two-time champion in the seven-year history of the series. He won the last two races of the season to rally from third in the points and edge Helio Castroneves, 531-511, for the title.

Tony George, Indy Racing League president and CEO, presented Hornish and the Pennzoil Panther team ownership group with the Indy Racing League Cup and a $1-million championship bonus during the gala ceremonies.

Foyt, 18, from Hockley, Texas, dominated the first season of the Infiniti Pro Series, winning four of seven races in the No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone owned by his grandfather, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt.

The younger Foyt won the title with 290 points, 54 more than runner-up Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk.

Roger Bailey, Infiniti Pro Series executive director, presented Foyt and A.J. Foyt Racing team members with the Firestone Firehawk Cup.

A variety of other awards also were presented, including the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award and a $50,000 bonus to Laurent Redon.

Presentations also were made to the second- and third-place drivers in the final IRL standings, Marlboro Team Penske teammates Castroneves and Gil de Ferran, and the second- and third-place drivers in the Infiniti Pro Series, Luyendyk and Ed Carpenter.

Highlights from the Championship Celebration will be televised at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Friday, Oct. 18 on ESPN2.

The 2003 Indy Racing League season starts March 2, 2003, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 2003 season features a record 16 races, including the league's first overseas event, April 13 at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan.

A recap of the other awards:

Indy Racing League Achievement Award: Tiffany Hemmer
*Brian Barnhart, Indy Racing League senior vice president of operations, presented this award to Indy Racing League Director of Racing Administration Hemmer for her extraordinary and tireless contributions to the success of the Indy Racing League.

Indy Racing League Special Recognition Award: Les Mactaggart
*Barnhart presented this award to Indy Racing League Technical Consultant Mactaggart for his outstanding work in the areas of chassis development and driver safety.

Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award: Laurent Redon
*Dana Arnold of Bombardier presented the award and a $50,000 bonus to Redon for leading the rookie standings in the 2002 season with 229 points in his No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone entry. Redon finished 12th in the final Indy Racing League point standings, with a best finish of third in March at California Speedway.

Chief Mechanic/Team Manager of the Year Award: Kevin Blanch
*John Lewis, Indy Racing League director of operations, presented Pennzoil Panther Racing Team Manager/Crew Chief Blanch with a $25,000 bonus for winning this award. Blanch's skill and leadership helped Pennzoil Panther Racing and driver Sam Hornish Jr. win five races and the Indy Racing League Cup in 2002.

Sony Disc Manufacturing Long Lasting Award: Sam Hornish Jr.
*Scott Bartlett of Sony Disc Manufacturing presented 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. with a $25,000 bonus for winning this award, presented to the driver who completed the most laps during the 2002 season. Hornish completed 2,963 of a possible 3,100 laps this season in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. He also earned a Sony big-screen television, DVD player and surround-sound system as part of the award.

Marlboro Lap Leader Award: Sam Hornish Jr.
*Ina Broeman, category director, Marlboro, Philip Morris, presented Hornish with this $10,000 award, presented to the driver who led the most laps during the 2002 season. Hornish led 654 laps in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone.

EMCO Gears Out Front Award: Al Unser Jr.
*Dan Cota of EMCO Gears presented this $10,000 bonus to two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Unser, who led 200 laps in the No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, the most of any driver without a victory in 2002.

MBNA Pole Award: Gil de Ferran
*MBNA Vice President Leonard Entel presented the specially designed MBNA Pole Award trophy to de Ferran, who earned four MBNA Pole Awards during the 2002 season in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, more than any other driver.

Championship Sponsor Award: Pennzoil
*Bill Long, Indy Racing League assistant vice president of marketing, presented this award to Doug Boyle of Pennzoil for the company's longtime primary sponsorship of Pennzoil Panther Racing, which won the Indy Racing League championship for the second consecutive season with driver Sam Hornish Jr.

Promoter of the Year: Brett Shelton, Jim Janssen
*Ken Ungar, Indy Racing League senior vice president of business affairs, presented this award to Michigan International Speedway President Shelton and Jackson (Mich.) Race Week organizer Janssen for their tireless work to make the inaugural IRL event at Michigan in July 2002 a success.

Engine Manufacturers Recognition: Chevrolet
*Barnhart presented this award to Terry Dolan of Chevrolet in recognition of Chevy winning the engine manufacturers' championship in its first season in the Indy Racing League. Chevrolet powered the winners of 14 of 15 Indy Racing League events this season, and the top nine drivers in the final season point standings used Chevrolet power.

Manufacturer Awards:
*These representatives accepted awards on behalf of their respective companies for achievement in Indy Racing:

John Biddlecomb, Panoz G Force
Caterina Dallara, Dallara Automobili
Ron Stukenberg, Infiniti
Al Speyer, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.
Brad Stout, Delphi