IRL: Kansas: Firestone race report

Hornish Conquers Heat, Wind and Wheldon in Kansas The second half of the 2006 Indy Racing League season got off to a hot and fast start today in Kansas, and Sam Hornish, Jr. fought hard to claim his second IndyCar victory in two weeks at Kansas...

Hornish Conquers Heat, Wind and Wheldon in Kansas

The second half of the 2006 Indy Racing League season got off to a hot and fast start today in Kansas, and Sam Hornish, Jr. fought hard to claim his second IndyCar victory in two weeks at Kansas Speedway.

The Marlboro Team Penske driver got around Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dan Wheldon on a late-race restart, and the two staged an epic battle, running side-by-side as the laps ticked down. Wheldon got a couple of good runs on Hornish but was never able to make his way around. Typical of Kansas Speedway finishes, Hornish crossed the finish line a mere 0.0793 seconds ahead of Wheldon. Panther Racing's Vitor Meira continued his impressive run this season, coming in just behind in third.

Drivers fought the heat, with ambient temperatures in the low 90's and track temps as high as 137 degrees. Adding to the drama was the strong breeze, which helped the drivers in turn 1 but made the cars more difficult to drive in turn 3 - where both Scott Sharp and Buddy Rice fell victim to ill-handling cars and ended their days against the wall. It was a busy day in the cockpit for the drivers, as the changing conditions made them continually adjust their weight jackers and sway bars.

Teams consistently ran 50-plus laps on their Firestone Firehawks in what is one of the toughest tests of the year.

Sam Hornish, Jr., Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"The tires were great. There were some people that voiced an opinion, saying that there were going to be some concerns. We knew they were going to be great. We came here and had a test, and everything went really good. I think that we put on an awesome show for the fans, especially at the end of the race. I'm lucky to get out of here with a win."

Firestone Tire Performance Summary:

The tire Firestone brought to Kansas Speedway had already demonstrated its performance capabilities on the other high-banked, high speed 1.5-mile oval tracks in the IndyCar Series - Chicagoland in 2005, and Homestead-Miami Speedway and Texas this year. This same tire specification was also used in the IndyCar Series Open Test here on June 12.

From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing:

"I thought it was a great race. With a track temperature of 137 degrees and just really hot, sunny weather in general, we are very proud that the Firestone Firehawks held up as well as they did. Certainly at the end of the race, we were treated to a classic, side-by-side battle between Sam Hornish, Jr. and Dan Wheldon, and it's too bad that only one of them can be declared the official winner because they gave the fans a great show. So, today, we would like to jointly congratulate Marlboro Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing, because those two teams have clearly got the best-handling cars out there at this point in time. It's also nice to see Panther Racing's Vitor Meira consistently nipping at their heels. In the end, a special congratulations and happy birthday to Sam Hornish, Jr."

Race temperatures ranged from 90 to 93 degrees track and from 128 to 137 degrees ambient (F).
Race temperatures ranged from 32 to 34 degrees track and from 53 to 58 degrees ambient (C).

-firestone

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing