Sam Shines in Season Opener on Firestone Tires Pennzoil/Panther Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. led 166 of 200 laps in a dominating performance at the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami to win the IRL's first contest of 2002. Hornish, the 2001...
Sam Shines in Season Opener on Firestone Tires
Pennzoil/Panther Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. led 166 of 200 laps in a dominating performance at the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami to win the IRL's first contest of 2002. Hornish, the 2001 IRL champion, won the season opener last year in Phoenix, the second race at Miami and the final race at Texas Motor Speedway. In his race today, Hornish lapped the field and, according to team owner John Barnes, "could drive anywhere he wanted."
"Sam and Andy Brown (team engineer) had the car set up perfectly," Barnes said. "And the Firestones were incredible, awesome. The longer we ran, they faster they got. We had a good day; there were times when we were running 192 (mph) and the rest of the field was at 185."
Quote From Al Speyer, Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Executive Director: "We're off to a great start for the 2002 season. The Firestone Firehawks ran very well today and Panther Racing's Sam Hornish picked up just as he finished last season, with a win. Marlboro Team Penske's second- and third-place finishes set the stage for an ultra-competitive year of IRL racing."
Pennzoil Panther driver Sam Hornish (Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I couldn't have asked for a better car today; all I had to do was just keep it off the wall. I kept thinking, if I don't screw up, I can win this race. The tires were awesome; they had great grip all day long."
Firestone Performance Award: Chip Ganassi Racing driver Jeff Ward earned a $10,000 check from the Firestone Racing program for being the first driver to complete 57 laps in today's race. The Firestone Performance Award celebrates Firestone appearing in every IRL contest (57 events with this race) since the league began. The next $10,000 Firestone Performance Award will go to the driver leading at the end of the 58th lap in the March 17 event at Phoenix. Ward will receive his check in pre-race ceremonies at Phoenix.
Practice temperatures ranged from 92 to 98 degrees track and from 82 to 84 degrees ambient (F).