HORNISH COLLECTS A COOL $1 MILLION AS CHAMPION'S BONUS
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Sept. 11, 2006 -- One day after winning the closest IndyCar® Series championship, Sam Hornish Jr. celebrated his third IndyCar Series championship -- again.
This time, Hornish and newly crowned Indy Pro Series champion Jay Howard -- along with other drivers, teams and manufacturers -- were recognized during the Indy Racing League Championship Ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ESPN broadcaster Marty Reid, who served as play-by-play announcer for the IndyCar Series, hosted the awards show at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The program will be broadcast at 3 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 14 on ESPN2.
Indy Racing League founder and CEO Tony George presented Hornish with a $1 million championship bonus check and a mini IndyCar Series championship trophy. A mini IndyCar Series championship trophy also was awarded to Marlboro Team Penske owner Roger Penske.
"The first two championships were pretty special, but to give Roger Penske his first championship in the IndyCar Series is a very special thing for me," Hornish said. "It's been three years since I've won a championship and I know how hard I worked to put myself in position to do this again. I'm just really excited to have won. Now I can't wait for next season to arrive, so we can try to do it again."
In addition to the title, Hornish accepted the $10,000 Bosch Platinum Award and the $20,000 Marlboro Pole Award. Matt Jonsson, chief mechanic for Hornish's No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara, accepted the Chief Mechanic of the Year Award and its $25,000 prize.
Marco Andretti of Andretti Green Racing accepted the $50,000 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award and the Rising Star Award. Andretti received his award, which honors the late Tony Renna.
Howard accepted the Firestone Firehawk Cup along with a $5,000 award from Lincoln Electric. Howard also won $5,000 as Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year, while Chris Griffis, chief mechanic for Howard's No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry, accepted $5,000 as Mo's Gold Chief Mechanic of the Year.
"There are not many words that can describe how big and how excited I am about winning the championship," Howard said. "It has opened up some doors already, and hopefully those doors can turn into a full-time ride at the next step up. It's definitely better than finishing second."
Wade Cunningham collected $5,000 as the Oxley Financial Advisory Group of Raymond James and Associates Lap Leader Award and a $2,500 award from Gregory & Appel for winning the "Top Driver Award."
IndyCar Series award winners
Championship driver: Sam Hornish Jr.
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring): Sam Hornish Jr.
TAG Heuer Championship Driver Award (watch): Sam Hornish Jr.
Championship team: Marlboro Team Penske
Championship team sponsor: Philip Morris/Marlboro
Championship team manager: Tom Wurtz
Chief Mechanic of the Year Award ($25,000): Matt Jonsson, Marlboro Team Penske
Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award ($50,000): Marco Andretti
The Rising Star Award: Marco Andretti
Second place championship driver: Dan Wheldon
Second place championship team: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
Third place championship driver: Helio Castroneves
Third place championship team: Marlboro Team Penske
BOSCH Platinum Award ($10,000): Sam Hornish Jr.
Marlboro Pole Award ($20,000): Sam Hornish Jr.
Manufacturer Recognition Awards: Honda, Firestone, Delphi, Dallara, Panoz, Xtrac, K&N Filters.
Delphi Safety Award: Holmatro Tools
Indy Pro Series award winners
Championship driver (mini Firehawk Cup): Jay Howard
Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring): Jay Howard
Lincoln Electric Company Championship Driver Award ($5,000): Jay Howard
Championship team (mini Firehawk Cup): Brian Stewart Racing
Lincoln Electric Company Championship Team Award (welding product): Brian Stewart Racing
Second place championship driver: Jonathan Klein
Second place championship team: Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Lincoln Electric Company Second Place Championship Team Award (welding product): Sam Schmidt Motorsports
Third place championship driver: Wade Cunningham
Third place championship team: Kenn Hardley Racing
Lincoln Electric Company Third Place Championship Team Award (welding product): Kenn Hardley Racing
The Oxley Financial Advisory Group of Raymond James and Associates Lap Leader Award ($5,000):
Gregory & Appel "Top Driver" Award: Wade Cunningham
Coverage of the Indy Racing League Championship Ceremony will air at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 14 as ESPN2 will dedicate an afternoon of programming to the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series. In addition to the award's program, the Chicagoland 100 Indy Pro Series event (2 p.m. ET) and the finale of Andretti 3, the reality program chronicling the rookie season of third-generation driver Marco Andretti, (2:30 p.m.) will air on Sept. 14.