IRL: Texas: Race report

HORNISH CLAIMS VICTORY AT BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550 AT TEXAS FORT WORTH, Texas, Saturday, June 9, 2007 -- Defending IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish scored his first victory of the 2007 season, surviving a wild finish to win the Bombardier...

HORNISH CLAIMS VICTORY AT BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550 AT TEXAS

FORT WORTH, Texas, Saturday, June 9, 2007 -- Defending IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish scored his first victory of the 2007 season, surviving a wild finish to win the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway.

Leading by 6.6453 seconds less than 50 laps to go, Hornish was content to leave the sparring to the cars running behind him in second- through seventh-place. Unfortunately for Hornish, a multi-car incident on Lap 197, precipitated by a tire falling off A.J. Foyt IV's car, negated Hornish's lead, but not his advantage.

The Team Penske driver, who started on the outside of Row 1, maintained the point and held off Tony Kanaan on for his first victory of the season. It was the 19th career victory for the reigning IndyCar Series champion, and the 21st-closest finish in IndyCar Series history.

Kanaan, the winner six days earlier at The Milwaukee Mile, finished 0.0786 of a second back. Danica Patrick recorded the best finish of her IndyCar Series career in third. Dario Franchitti, retained his hold on the points lead with a fourth place. Delphi Panther Racing's Vitor Meira placed fifth for the second race in a row.

DAY 3 NOTEBOOK:

Indy Pro Series driver CR Crews was able to get some home-cooking this week while working with the Racing Professional team for the Bombardier Learjet 550k.

Crews was the spotter at Texas Motor Speedway for the No. 19 Honda-powered Dallara driven by Jon Herb, resuming his duties from the 91st Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

Crews, who turned 19 on May 30, is a Dallas native who has been residing in Indianapolis recently as he pursues a career in the IndyCar Series. He said there are some "exciting opportunities" to compete in both series through the summer.

"There is some really big stuff happening (though) 95 percent of it is behind the curtain," said Crews, who has three top-10 finishes in the Indy Pro Series this season. "I can't speak about much of it now, but I think everybody will be surprised pretty quick. We'll run a handful of Indy Pro Series races and see how that goes, and work from there."

***

Last year, the only thing that tempered Helio Castroneves' celebration in Texas Motor Speedway's Victory Circle was learning he couldn't keep the six-shooters he fired into the night air. But "good things come to those who wait," the Team Penske driver said.

Castroneves and Tomas Scheckter, the 2005 race winner, were presented matched pairs of Beretta Stampedes in Victory Circle before the Bombardier Learjet 550k. The replicas of the 1873 single-action "Guns that won the American West" have gold-inlaid Nos. 1 and 2, identifying them as part of the consecutively numbered pair. They have a retail value of $3,000.

"I really enjoy guns and to have something so beautifully made I can't thank Beretta enough," Scheckter said of the engraved 45-caliber six-shooters finished in a charcoal blue metal finish with grips of ivory polymer. "They are too beautiful to shoot. The detail and design they've put into them is just unbelievable."

As part of Beretta's sponsorship of Texas Motor Speedway, the IndyCar Series winner is presented a pair of six-shooters to shoot (blanks) in Victory Circle. G. Patrick McDonald, vice president of sales and marketing for the United States arm of the 400-year-old company, made the presentation. The revolvers come with a desktop presentation case featuring an engraved plaque.

"I'll have to win the race to get another set," Castroneves said.

BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550 POST-RACE NOTES:

* This is Sam Hornish Jr.'s first win of the season and the 19th of his IndyCar Series career, extending his IndyCar Series record for most wins. Hornish's last win came at Kentucky in August 2006.

* This is Team Penske's 25th win in the IndyCar Series. Its last win came with Helio Castroneves at St. Petersburg in April.

* Tony Kanaan finished second, his fifth top-five of the season.

* Danica Patrick finished a career-best third and led her first laps of the 2007 season.

* Jeff Simmons (6th), Sarah Fisher (10th) and Milka Duno (11th) recorded season-best finishes. Simmons' finish was the best of his career.

***

BOMBARDIER LEARJET 550 POST-RACE QUOTES:

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, winner, Bombardier Learjet 550): "We were really happy with the car after yesterday's practice session. I thought we were going to have a good shot at the pole but it turned out that we didn't have enough speed. We felt really good about the race going into Kansas. We thought we were going to have a day like we did tonight. When we got out there in the middle of the race, we were all over the place and we couldn't do anything with it. We were cautiously optimistic tonight because we felt like we had a really good car that was capable of winning. Until the first couple laps of the race went by, we weren't sure how good it was or if it would be good enough. It was strong all night long. My engineer did a great job picking out the gears. Team Penske has been doing an outstanding job in the pits all year long. They've been working really hard at making it the stops as short as possible. My hat is off to those guys. I'm definitely looking forward to going to the next two tracks. I think we're going to have a good couple weeks here in the point standings."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished second): "I didn't think we had the car to finish second tonight. I had a huge brake problems, but the Team 7-Eleven guys did a great job in the pits. I have to thank my team owners and engineers for the off-season development. We're not quite there yet, but this is a very good race for the championship."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished third): "It feels good, we were strong all weekend, and I was happy going into the race. We didn't have the qualifying that we wanted unfortunately and that showed." (About the race): "As soon as we got back a couple of cars -- six, seven or eight cars behind in the run it was just pushing and really hard to run. Everybody's flat out especially in the front so the closer to the front the better you were. It's a shame Tony (Kanaan) and I didn't have more time to get Sam (Hornish). Tony ran a good race and so did Dario (Franchitti) without fifth gear. (About incident with Dan Wheldon): "On the track he (Wheldon) was going really high in the middle of the corner and chopping down at the exit. It was an inconsistency in his line and was taking the air away from you. If it was Dan or anyone else I would have called up to my spotter and said the same thing."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fourth): "The car wasn't bad the first stint we slid around a little bit. We lost fifth gear after the first pit stop and we were sitting ducks on the restarts. A lot of people passed us there so we just kept soldiering on. We got into a great race with Vitor (Meira) at the end it was a lot of fun. It was a great job by Sam (Hornish Jr.), he ran a hell of a race. And it was a great job by our team, a big difference from a year ago."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished fifth): "We're still trying to figure out what in the world happened during the first yellow flag. I was in the lead during the caution, did my pit stop, and ended out behind several cars that had to make two stops. The Delphi car still should have been leading the race. What an absolute mess. I wasn't one of the cars that passed the pace car, and somehow we end up near the end of the line? I was the only one to respect the pace car, and I was the one that was the most penalized. It might not have changed the final result at the end of the day, but I thought the Panther team was lucky and instead we were penalized. We still don't have an answer."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished eighth): "Basically, we got fortunate with others crashing, and thankfully, no one got hurt, so really that helped us out. Our car really wasn't that quick, so we need to go back and see if we can make it faster."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone, finished ninth): "During the first yellow, there was so much confusion, and I didn't know which position I was in, so I passed the pace car thinking I was on the lead lap. However, I wasn't on lead lap, and I got a 30-second penalty. I am very frustrated at the IRL for not being able to handle the situation better. They could've told the team where I was supposed to go back out and let us know my position sooner. I was able to finish the race in ninth position and brought the car back safe to the team, so I will just keep doing my best and move up the position."

SARAH FISHER (No. 5 AAMCO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Finishing in the Top-10 here was because of attrition. An interviewer told me the other day that I'm the only driver to finish every lap and it's the tradition of being there at the end. It's still a car we need to work on to get some more speed. My engineer said it best; we brought a knife to a gun show. We just have to keep working at it. We're really thankful that it worked out in our favor but we have to get better."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I saw my teammate A.J. Foyt's tire rolling off probably before the yellow and I start slowing down with A.J. sideways in the middle of the road and Dixon comes flying by me and runs into me and I drive away before another comes driving up the back of me. Maybe that is why they are so fast, they don't have brakes. We are professionals, its not "Days of Thunder" out there, you don't drive through accidents. You look where you are going and it's inexcusable to get run over by someone after you have slowed down for an accident."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I saw A.J. Foyt IV loose a wheel ahead, and no one else slowed up, and I got collected from behind. It was an average day as the No. 9 Target car might not have been strong enough to win, but was going to be a top-three finish. In the end, the important thing is that the Target crew worked together and got me back out there for a few more spots and some valuable points. The Target guys did a great job and stuck it out."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's just one of those things. It's hard to avoid when you are in the middle of it and there's not too much you can do. It's a shame for everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. We had a tough weekend and lacked a bit of speed. It wasn't for lack of trying but we were just a little bit off Sam's (Hornish Jr.) pace. We'll just keep working hard I've had stuff like this happen to me before and it's times like this where you need to show how strong you are and bounce back."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "First of all, I have to apologize to Tomas (Scheckter). I thought he had enough room. It was obviously completely unintentional. Then we lost fifth gear. I tried to go with sixth but we were running too slow. I tried to come in for a pit stop and things with the NYSE car were not working properly. It's a real bummer for the crew. They gave me a very good race car; one that could run at the front. Here we go again."

JON HERB (No. 19 AERCON/Dad's Root Beer Special Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We had to make a trip through pit lane for a penalty, but I am not sure why we had that. We came back in for our pit stop five laps later and came in a little hot, I guess, along pit road and spun it around."

***

The next IndyCar Series race is the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by ethanol at 1 p.m. (ET) on June 24 at Iowa Speedway. The race will be televised live by ABC and broadcast the IMS Radio Network. The next Indy Pro Series event is the Liberty Challenge doubleheader on June 16-17 on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race will be televised by ESPN2 on June 21.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Milka Duno , Tomas Scheckter , Sarah Fisher , Jon Herb , Helio Castroneves , A.J. Foyt IV , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Jeff Simmons , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Sam Hornis , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing