Kentucky Win Moves Hornish Back into Points Lead Scoring his fourth win of the season in come-from-behind fashion Sunday at Kentucky Speedway, Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. moved back into a narrow lead in the IndyCar Series points ...
Kentucky Win Moves Hornish Back into Points Lead
Scoring his fourth win of the season in come-from-behind fashion Sunday at Kentucky Speedway, Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. moved back into a narrow lead in the IndyCar Series points standings with two races remaining in the 2006 championship.
It was another successful race weekend for Honda and the engineers of Honda Performance Development, as the 19-car field of Honda HI6R Indy V-8 engines once again performed reliably throughout the 300-mile event, with no mechanical retirements during the seventh of eight super speedway races this season.
After starting together on the front row and trading the lead over the first 53 laps, Hornish and teammate Helio Castroneves were caught out by a caution flag that waved -- for a spin by Ed Carpenter -- on Lap 56, just after the pair had made green flag pit stops. The majority of the 19-car starting field then pitted under yellow, dropping Castroneves to ninth and Hornish to 10th in the field.
That put Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon at the front of the field, followed by Tony Kanaan and Vitor Meira. Wheldon, Dixon and Meira all traded the lead several times -- part of a track-record 23 lead changes on the day -- as Hornish and Castroneves worked together to climb back through the field.
By Lap 96, just before the halfway point in the 200-lap event, Hornish was back in front, but the lead continued to swing back and forth among the Penske and Ganassi quartet, joined by a pitting-out-of-sequence Bryan Herta.
At the final round of pit stops, Wheldon stopped wide of the marks in his pit box and his crew had difficulty attaching the refueling hose. Castroneves also lost time on his final stop, setting up a duel between leader Dixon and the pursuing Hornish over the last 10 laps. A caution on Lap 192 for a spin by Scott Sharp set up a six-lap "trophy dash" to the finish, with Hornish taking the lead on the restart and holding on for his league-record 18th career IndyCar victory.
With just the road course at Infineon Raceway in California and the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway oval remaining in the season, Hornish holds a narrow, seven-point championship lead over Castroneves. Wheldon is third, 24 points back, and Dixon rounds out the top four, 33 points behind the leader. Meira, fifth in the points after a sixth-place finish today, and Kanaan, sixth in the points and fifth today, also remain mathematically in championship contention.
Sam Hornish Jr. (#6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 2nd, finished 1st, his fourth victory of 2006, 18th career IndyCar win, his 2nd win at Kentucky Speedway:
"We had a little bit of a bad break early on when [Ed] Carpenter spun and we got caught coming out of the pits. Helio [Castroneves] and I worked together to get back up front and I had to work hard to catch Scott [Dixon] at the end. I was upset at first when the [final] yellow came out, but it worked out in the end. It was a great day for Marlboro Team Penske. My guys gave me great stops as usual and I think we put on a pretty good show for the fans."
Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) on Honda peformance in today's race:
"It was another exciting super speedway race, with a record number of lead changes and four or five potential race winners. The racing within the pack was close, intense, yet clean throughout the race. I continue to be pleased with our IndyCar engine program, both in terms of competitiveness and reliability. Once again, congratulations to Sam Hornish Jr. and the Penske organization. This is shaping up to be a great championship battle."
-credit: honda racing