IRL: Richmond: Race report

HORNISH DOMINATES UNDER LIGHTS AT RICHMOND RICHMOND, Va., Saturday, June 24, 2006, -- Sam Hornish Jr. led 212 laps to win the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio at Richmond International Raceway. Hornish, whose dominating...

HORNISH DOMINATES UNDER LIGHTS AT RICHMOND

RICHMOND, Va., Saturday, June 24, 2006, -- Sam Hornish Jr. led 212 laps to win the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio at Richmond International Raceway.

Hornish, whose dominating win was the most consecutive laps led and third-most total in IndyCar® Series history, won under caution when teammate Helio Castroneves' car sustained a right-rear tire puncture.

A few seconds earlier, Vitor Meira dived under the No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone driven by Dario Franchitti to claim the sixth runner-up finish of his IndyCar Series career.

Rookie Marco Andretti finished fourth followed by Scott Sharp, Bryan Herta and Vision Racing teammates Tomas Scheckter and Ed Carpenter. Dan Wheldon and Castroneves filled out the top 10.

"It's been a great weekend for us," said Hornish, who closed to five points of Castroneves in the standings halfway through the season. "The Firestone tires were great. We ran more than 100 laps there at the end with them. We were really happy to get out of here with a win for Marlboro right in the backyard of Philip Morris. I also heard it was Honda's 100th win, so that's great too. Team Penske did an awesome job for me, especially in the pits. You have to keep the lead here. It's hard to pass on the track, and the team just did what they needed to do."

INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE NOTES:

* This is Sam Hornish Jr.'s 16th career IndyCar Series victory, adding to his IndyCar Series record, and his second victory of the season. His last win came at the Indianapolis 500 in May.

* This is the Marlboro Team Penske's 20th win in the IndyCar Series, and its second consecutive win at Richmond International Raceway.

* Vitor Meira finished second, matching his career-best finish in the IndyCar Series. He has finished second six times in the IndyCar Series.

* Dario Franchitti finished a season-best third tonight. His previous best was fourth at the season-opening event at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

***

INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE QUOTES:

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, winner SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio): "This is the car that we ran at Watkins Glen. With so many races in a row, we have to be very careful with what cars we've got. Unfortunately, we crashed (our short oval car) but maybe we'll take this one to Milwaukee and see how it does there. It's been a great weekend for us. The Firestone tires were great. We ran more than 100 laps there at the end with them. They were just as good at the end as they were at the beginning. We were really happy to get out of here with a win for Marlboro right in the backyard of Philip Morris. I also heard it was Honda's 100th win, so that's great too. Marlboro Team Penske did an awesome job for me, especially in the pits. You have to keep the lead here. It's hard to pass on the track, and the team just did what they needed to do."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "I think we had the best car in the field. We got hurt on our pit stops, but we drove back to the front. I think we passed the most cars (of the race). I've never driven a better short oval car in my life. It's awesome. We just have to tune a little bit to get the win. But we are as competitive as everyone else."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished third): "I think you need to talk to the guys on the Klein Tools/Canadian Club team (about the pit stop). I don't what they did. We came in there, they got a wing in and got me out. I was passing all these guys, Helio (Castroneves), all these different guys. I almost got (Sam) Hornish as well. On the restart, I thought I had something for them. I was hanging with them, made a couple moves but just couldn't make it stick."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fourth): "I'm very happy to have finished this race because with about 20 laps to go, I almost lost it. The NYSE car was pretty good, but it was also a handful at times. Once again, the NYSE boys did a good job all weekend. It would have been nice to have given the leader a run for the money at the end, but I'm still happy to have finished where we did."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fifth): "It was a good day for the Delphi team. There was a time there in the first part of the race where I thought we were one of the fastest cars on the track, but I was stuck behind Helio (Castroneves) and couldn't get by him. Had I been able to get by him, I think I could have gone up and raced with Sam (Hornish Jr.) I don't know about passing him, but at least raced with him. In the middle part of the race we were sort of cruising -- saving fuel and riding along with the leaders. Traffic would really dictate whether I would pass people or they would pass me. After our last pit stop, for some reason the car just tightened up. I am not sure what happened. I had to move my weightjacker all the way over, and still I was just grinding the fronts. The car just wouldn't rotate for me. When the car won't turn, there is really nothing else you can do. We probably lost three or four tenths in overall lap time. Still, we have two top fives in a row, and the team is doing a really great job. We certainly are on a bit of a roll right now, and hopefully we can keep it going at Kansas."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished sixth): "I think we were better tonight than our result. In the last stint the XM car really came to us, but we had that problem in the pits, and we really didn't have the kind of track position that we needed at the start of the race. It's always going to be tough to pass here and that's fine, but there were some cars here tonight that were really driving irresponsibly. When it's not your night and you're a few laps down, you've got to know not to hold cars up and affect the race. On my second stint, I went from running four seconds behind the leader to being almost a lap down just from traffic."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished seventh): "It was a good weekend for the team as we got another solid top-10 finish. That's saying a lot really with where the team was at the beginning of the weekend. When we got here we were really struggling a lot, but we put our heads together after the warm-up today, and we came up with a good set-up and that definitely helped us out in the race."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "It was pretty good. We got off to a slow start at the beginning of the race, so I just worked with my adjustments in the car, made a change on the second pit stop, and really got the thing running better. It was really hard to pass here, but we still had a good day. The team finished seventh and eighth, which is the third top-10 finish for both of us and that's not too bad. I think we could have been a little better, but with how the warm-up session was today, I'm pretty happy with how we raced tonight."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 9th): "The team short filled the No.10 Nicoderm CQ Target car on what was supposed to be our last stop in the hopes of getting a caution before the end. It simply came too late for us. It was a gamble that just didn't pay off, and we paid a heavy price."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 10th): "Pretty disappointed really. I didn't think we were short on fuel but we had to come in for a splash at the end and that really hurt us. The car wasn't too bad and it was at least good enough for a top-five finish, not a 10th place finish."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished 11th): "The Marlboro Team Penske car was great to start the race, but when we hit traffic the car became pretty loose. We definitely had enough to come away with a top three finish, but we lost a rear tire with a few laps to go. Thankfully, I was able to hang on to the car. It's great that the team came away with a victory, and I'm still able to retain the points lead. Now it's on to Kansas."

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The next IndyCar Series event is the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 at 1 p.m. on July 2 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be telecast live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Philip Morris , Sam Hornish Jr. , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing