Hornish Comes Back From Multi-Car Crash To Finish 9th; Wreck Leaves Castroneves 17th
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 5, 2007) -- The IndyCar Series apparent farewell to Michigan International Speedway was hardly inspirational, but Sunday's Firestone Indy 400 was motivational for Team Penske.
Sam Hornish Jr. raced among the top five for most of the event on the 2-mile track before a terrifying six-car pileup severely damaged his No. 6 Team Penske Honda/Dallara. Still, the Penske crew put the car back together and returned Hornish to the track, where he salvaged a ninth-place finish and valuable points in the IndyCar Series championship race.
Hornish was among the lead pack when the melee began on the backstretch, 55 laps from the 200-lap race's conclusion. Leader Dario Franchitti and runner-up Dan Wheldon touched, igniting a wild crash that launched Franchitti's car into the air and eventually into an upside down landing.
"We got to a point where we were pretty comfortable, but, unfortunately, I got involved in that big accident," said Hornish, who started the event on the outside of the front row. "I thought I was free and clear, but I ended up getting rear-ended. It's a shame because it seems like every time we have a chance to make up some points, something like that goes wrong."
Shortly before Hornish was involved in the multi-car crash, teammate Helio Castroneves and his No. 3 Team Penske Honda/Dallara were involved in a crash with Vitor Meira. Castroneves, who started third, was treated for knee pain and released from the infield medical center. He was scored 17th in the 20-car field.
"It was very unfortunate because the Team Penske car was awesome," Castroneves said. "I have a lot of respect for Vitor and his driving abilities, but I think he was being a little too aggressive for so early in the race. Unfortunately, we touched, and it resulted in a short day for both of us. Hopefully, we'll be able to rebound next week in Kentucky."
The race is likely the last for the Indy Cars at Michigan, a staple in open-wheel racing for 40 years. Track and IndyCar officials could not reach an agreement on a date for the 2008 season.
While the Michigan farewell didn't meet Team Penske's typical high expectations, Hornish said his teammates' effort taught him something.
"The good thing today was that Team Penske worked hard out there to get us back out and we were able to make up a few spots and earn some valuable points," Hornish said. "I really have to hand it to them; they did a great job turning a bad situation around a bit."
Hornish is now fifth in the IndyCar standings with four races remaining, 127 points off the lead. Castroneves is sixth, 158 points behind. The series resumes Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.