IRL: Hornish dominates Homestead-Miami again

IRL: Hornish dominates Homestead-Miami again

MIAMI (March 2, 2002) - Sam Hornish won his second consecutive Grand Prix of Miami in convincing fashion, leading 166 of 200 laps. This is Hornish's fourth career Indy Racing League victory, tying him with Kenny Brack and Arie Luyendyk for...

MIAMI (March 2, 2002) - Sam Hornish won his second consecutive Grand Prix of Miami in convincing fashion, leading 166 of 200 laps. This is Hornish's fourth career Indy Racing League victory, tying him with Kenny Brack and Arie Luyendyk for fourth on the all-time IRL win list

Hornish, driver of the Chevrolet-powered Pennzoil Dallara, took the lead from the pole position, and held the top spot until lap 28.

A spin by Jaques Lazier caused the third yellow of the day and the ensuing restart saw Hornish miss a shift. Helio Castroneves was quick to capitalize on Hornish's mistake and led lap 29.

Sam Hornish Jr. leaving the pits.
Photo by indyracing.com photo by Ron McQueeney.

But Hornish was not to be denied, especially with a superior handling car.

"The biggest reason I do well at Homestead is basically my engineer," said Hornish. "He does an awesome job. We didn't have to touch the car all day. He kept wanting to make changes, but I told him it was good enough already."

After three laps, the yellow appeared once more, sending the frontrunners to the pits. Jeff Ward, who chose to stay on the track, inherited the lead.

It took Hornish thirty laps to chase down Ward, but once back into the lead, the Pennzoil car pulled clear by 1.5 seconds in one lap. Before making his next scheduled pit stop, Hornish enjoyed a 21 second lead over second place.

Gil De Ferran and Helio Castroneves rotated through the top spot while the Pennzoil car took on four tires and fuel, but Hornish was back in the lead once everyone stopped for service.

Hornish took the lead for good on lap 128 and never looked back. Even after the final round of pit stops on lap 162, Hornish enjoyed a five second lead

The Marlboro Team Penske drivers made a last ditch effort to catch Hornish, stopping under yellow for four fresh tires with just 27 laps remaining in the race. But it wasn't enough to catch the defending series champion. Gil de Ferran finished second with his Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves third.

Gil de Ferran leading Tomas Scheckter and Jaques Lazier.
Photo by indyracing.com photo by Ron McQueeney.

"It was a good day for Marlboro Team Penske with Helio and I finishing in the top three," said de Ferran. "Obviously to come out of our first race in the IRL with a lot of points is a great start for us."

Despite extensive pre-season testing, Team Penske couldn't match the performance of the Pennzoil Panther team.

"We didn't have the same pace as Hornish did today," said de Ferran. "We tried to challenge him at one point but we just didn't have enough for him."

De Ferran's teammate was upbeat about his performance and his prospects for the season. "It's a new championship, new series and new equipment, so to finish in the top-three, that was my goal. I am satisfied, actually," Castroneves said. "Now that we've got one successful race under our belt we're ready to move on to Phoenix."

Jeff Ward, who set the fastest lap of the race, finished fourth, one lap down to the leaders. Eliseo Salazar was fifth followed by Tomas Scheckter, who finished sixth in his first oval race.

At one pointing the race, Scheckter was turning some of the fastest laps in the race in an effort to get back on the lead lap. Scheckter was involved in an incident with his teammate and car owner, Eddie Cheever on the third lap. The pair touched as they raced side by side in turn four. Cheever's day ended when his car slid into the wall.

Scheckter continued, two laps down, after making two pit stops under yellow to repair minor damage.

"First of all, I need to apologize to Eddie about our coming together at the beginning of the race," said Scheckter. "At the start of the race, there were cars everywhere around me on the straights. I was behind Eddie and one of the Penske cars made a move on him. It created a gap for me. I tried to follow the Penske car. We just made a little bit of contact, and I got a bit sideways. Unfortunately, he went into the wall and I carried on."

Rounding out the top ten finishers was Felipe Giaffone in his first race with Mo Nunn Racing, Alex Barron and Anthony Lazzaro.

Notes from the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Interested spectators at this weekend's race included P.J. Jones, Dale Coyne, John Paul Jr., Didier Andre, Roberto Moreno, Richie Hearn, Shigeaki Hattori, Chris Menninga, Sarah Fisher, Greg Ray, Stephan Gregoire and Max Papis, who said he was, "helping some friends at Dallara."

Papis won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona driving a Dallara chassis.

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