IRL: Richmond: Firestone race report

Hornish Manages Tires and Traffic to Dominate for Win in Richmond Sam Hornish, Jr. literally drove off into the sunset tonight in Richmond, dominating the race and leading laps 39-250 to take the checkered flag in the SunTrust Indy Challenge. A...

Hornish Manages Tires and Traffic to Dominate for Win in Richmond

Sam Hornish, Jr. literally drove off into the sunset tonight in Richmond, dominating the race and leading laps 39-250 to take the checkered flag in the SunTrust Indy Challenge. A little race strategy from his team owner Roger Penske didn't hurt, either. Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti gave Hornish a run for his money in traffic; but once the lapped cars were out of the way, neither Dario nor anyone else could come close to the #6 Penske machine.

Thunderstorms threatened at the beginning of the race, but all 250 laps were run without incident. In fact, the 2006 SunTrust Indy Challenge set a record as the fastest IndyCar Series event at Richmond International Raceway, with an average speed of 129.5mph (15mph faster than the previous record) and only three caution periods.

As the laps wound down, Panther Racing's Vitor Meira made a bold and brilliant move to get around Franchitti. Around that same time, Hornish's teammate Helio Castroneves, who had run strong throughout the race and looked to be a contender, lost pressure in his right rear tire due to a puncture. The race ended under caution, and an elated Meira matched his career-best finish of second-place. Franchitti held on to round out the top-three.

* From Sam Hornish, Jr., Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The Firestone tires were great! We ran over 100 laps on one set, and they were just as good at the end as they were at the beginning of the stint."

* Firestone Tire Performance Summary: Firestone engineers brought an all-new tire specification to this year's SunTrust Indy Challenge; however, as expected, it demonstrated similar grip and wear characteristics to the tires they had brought to Richmond in the past. Durability was evident - as noted above, cars ran over 100 laps on a single set of Firehawks. Each team received seven sets of slicks for the two-day race weekend.

* From Joe Barbieri, Manager, Firestone Racing: "Richmond always presents a challenge because of the stress and constant loads the track puts on the right side of the car. It is really a matter of balance for us; the tires were a little harder this year, but there were still marbles on the track. If we made the tires softer, there would be even more. I think we have found a good mix - especially since the tires were one of the first things Sam raved about as he got out of his car. Congratulations to him and to Team Penske for another victory in what has been a dominant season for them."

Race temperatures ranged from 91 to 83 degrees track and from 79 to 78 degrees ambient (F).

Race temperatures ranged from 33 to 28 degrees track and from 26 to 25 degrees ambient (C).

-firestone-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Roger Penske , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske