IRL: Can Sam Hornish Jr. make it three at California Speedway?

FONTANA, Calif. (September 17, 2004) --- For two consecutive years Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series driver Sam Hornish Jr., has enjoyed record breaking moments at California Speedway. Not only has the Defiance, Ohio native enjoyed two ...

FONTANA, Calif. (September 17, 2004) --- For two consecutive years Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series driver Sam Hornish Jr., has enjoyed record breaking moments at California Speedway.

Not only has the Defiance, Ohio native enjoyed two back-to-back victories, but he has done so at record breaking speeds and memorable margins of victories. Hornish will return to the 2-mile, D-shaped oval to go for his third straight victory in the TOYOTA Indy 400 on Sunday, October 3rd.

"I love coming out and going to that California Speedway," Hornish said in a recent interview. "I'm really excited to come out there. I've had quite a bit of success there.

"As far as going for my third race win there, in three tries I feel pretty lucky that I'm even able to go for that," Hornish continued. "We've had two races that went great for us in the past two years. If we have a good handling racecar on Sunday I think we'll be up towards the front and hopefully, with good pit stops and good race strategy positions, we'll get in the lead and hopefully go for three in a row."

Last year, he averaged an astounding 207.151 mph en route to winning the 400-mile event, making the superspeedway home of the world's fastest oval race speed. The race saw one caution that lasted only six of the 200 laps. Hornish edged eventual series champion Scott Dixon by 0.356 of a second, another signature close IndyCar Series finish.

"When it says 207-mile-an-hour race in the record books, it will say that I won," said Hornish in post-race interviews. "But it's really a team effort by the guys out there on the track. They all did a great job, knowing what the boundaries of what their cars were. You can't have a 200 mph race if you're crashing cars every 20 laps."

The margin of victory last year didn't compare to the inaugural event at the superspeedway in 2002 when Hornish edged hometown driver Jaques Lazier by the nose of his car with 0.028 of a second separating the two. The two battled back and forth over the latter stages of the race, changing the lead several times in establishing a race record for lead changes with 39.

"I knew the only way to get a run [at the end] was from behind, because [Lazier] was hugging the white line," said Hornish following the inaugural event. "I kept my foot in it and tried to go as fast as I could through the checkered flag."

When Hornish returns to California Speedway October 1-3 for the TOYOTA Indy 400, what more can he do? Simple, he can make it three straight wins and add some more records.

He comes back to California Speedway with a new team, Marlboro Team Penske, looking to make it three straight trips to Gatorade Victory Lane. If he can do it, not only will he join such great drivers as Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Ted Musgrave who have won three races at California Speedway, but he will give team owner Roger Penske his first open-wheel win at the track he constructed in the mid-1990s.

A two-time series champion (2001 and 2002), Hornish started his career with Team Penske by winning this year's season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway; however, a series of problems and race mishaps have only netted six other top-10 finishes. Hornish currently sits in seventh place in the IndyCar point's standings.

Come see the action when Hornish goes for three in a row at California Speedway during the TOYOTA Indy 400 on October 3rd. For ticket and event information, call 800-944-RACE [7223] or online at www.californiaspeedway.com.

-cs-

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