LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Dec. 6, 1999 - Rising open-wheel talent Sam Hornish Jr. passed his Indy Racing League rookie test Dec. 6 at Walt Disney World Speedway in a car prepared by PDM Racing. Hornish, 20, turned 115 laps on the tricky, 1-mile tri-oval at Walt Disney World Speedway, passing all four phases of the rookie test in a G Force/Aurora car fielded by PDM owners Paul Diatlovich and Chuck Buckman. "It was very good," Hornish said. "I had a lot of fun. It's not everyday you get a chance to drive an IRL car. PDM Racing made it easy for me. The car was underneath me the whole time. I didn't have to worry about the car. It is definitely easier with a solid car. "Hopefully I can keep going in this direction." Indy Racing League Director of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart and Indy Racing driver Tyce Carlson were the veteran observers at the test. "Sam has impressed everyone here," Carlson said. "He ran consistent and smooth laps. I know Chuck, Paul and PDM Racing can put a good car under him. It looks like he's going to be competitive from day one." Said Barnhart: "He did a nice job. Orlando is not the easiest racetrack to get acquainted with one of these cars. He picked right up on it." Hornish, from Defiance, Ohio, finished seventh overall in 1999 in his first season in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. He was the top-placing rookie in the series and won the event at Chicago Motor Speedway. He finished seventh in the U.S. F2000 point standings in 1998 against a field that included 1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year Robby McGehee. He also has competed in SCCA Club Racing events and is a former national champion in World Karting Association-sanctioned racing. Hornish now is eligible to compete in the season-opening Delphi Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway on Jan. 29. "Sam did a great job out there," PDM co-owner Diatlovich said. "We are very pleased with his level of talent. He will make an excellent addition to the IRL."

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