IRL: Homestead race report

Hornish Wins Again, Holds Off Fisher In Miami MIAMI, Sunday, April 8, 2001 - Sam Hornish Jr. and Sarah Fisher, two youngsters from the kart tracks of Ohio, raced to a heart-throbbing one-two-finish Sunday in the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami ...

Hornish Wins Again, Holds Off Fisher In Miami

MIAMI, Sunday, April 8, 2001 - Sam Hornish Jr. and Sarah Fisher, two youngsters from the kart tracks of Ohio, raced to a heart-throbbing one-two-finish Sunday in the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami presented by 123.com Americatel at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hornish is 21 and Fisher only 20. It was Hornish's second career victory and second consecutive victory this year. Fisher's second-place finish is the best ever for a woman in major open-wheel racing, topping her third-place effort last August at Kentucky Speedway.

Finishing third was Chilean driver Eliseo Salazar, whose age of 45 more than doubled that of the two-front runners. Both passed Salazar late in the race to stage a final chase that had the fans on their feet as Fisher pursued Hornish.

But Hornish and his Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone were too much for Fisher and her Walker Racing/Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone - and every other driver and car in the field. He won by 1.870 seconds and led 142 laps.

"The car was great throughout the weekend," Hornish said. "It felt good, and for the most part we had very few problems. We did make a rookie mistake (stalling on pit road), even though I am not a rookie."

Hornish averaged 148.508 mph for his second straight Indy Racing Northern Light Series win. It also was the third consecutive victory for the Pennzoil Panther Racing team as veteran Scott Goodyear won the final race of the 2000 season at Texas Motor Speedway last October.

"I'm real happy to win two in a row," Hornish said. "Salazar is a great racer. He and I were really battling it out. You have to be as calm as possible in these races."

The last Indy Racing driver to win two consecutive races was Greg Ray at Dover and Pikes Peak in August 1999. The only driver to win three in a row was 1999 Indianapolis 500 champion Kenny Brack in 1998. Hornish will go for his third straight win in the Atlanta 500 Classic on April 28 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a night race.

Hornish's first three pit stops were swiftly accomplished and returned him to the track in the lead. But on his final stop, on Lap 167, the car stalled as he started to edge away from the lead stall on the Turn 1 end of the pit. This dropped Hornish back to fourth, and he had three cars between him and Salazar, who got his Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone out in the No. 1 position.

Hornish charged past 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier on Lap 176, an instant before Lazier's car spun and backed into the Turn 4 wall. This bunched up the field for the final green flag to start Lap 181. Lazier was unhurt.

On Lap 183, Hornish, from Defiance, Ohio, passed second-place Fisher, who now lives in Indianapolis but hails from Commercial Point, Ohio, on the main straight. He then chased down Salazar, who was cheered on by a large contingent of Chilean fans. Salazar held off one pass attempt. Then on Lap 184, they race side-by-side through Turns 3 and 4, and Hornish snatched the lead for good at the start-finish line.

Fisher dove under Salazar in Turn 3 on Lap 188 and set out after Hornish. Although she closed the gap as both cars navigated traffic, Hornish was just too strong.

"I don't know if I could've caught him," said Fisher, who won't be 21 until Oct. 4. "I tried. The car was on rails the entire race, we had great pit stops. The fact that I didn't catch Sam doesn't matter. I'm happy where I ended up."

Rounding out the top five were Brazilian rookie Felipe Giaffone in the Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone and MBNA Pole winner Jeff Ward in the Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. led a lap but an early stop-and-go penalty and a late pit problem dropped him back to sixth.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sarah Fisher , Greg Ray , Felipe Giaffone , Al Unser Jr. , Eliseo Salazar , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Scott Goodyear , Kenny Brack , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing