HORNISH JR. EARNS FIRST-EVER ATLANTIC VICTORY AT INAUGURAL CHICAGO EVENT CICERO, Ill. , Aug. 21, 1999 -- Rookie Sam Hornish, Jr., of Defiance, Ohio, scored his first KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship victory Saturday at the Chicago...
HORNISH JR. EARNS FIRST-EVER ATLANTIC VICTORY AT INAUGURAL CHICAGO EVENT
CICERO, Ill. , Aug. 21, 1999 -- Rookie Sam Hornish, Jr., of Defiance, Ohio, scored his first KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship victory Saturday at the Chicago Motor Speedway, part of the inaugural Target Grand Prix weekend, giving Michael Shank Racing its second straight victory. Hornish, Jr., started second, fell to fourth on the opening lap, then steadily moved back up, passing polesitter Andrew Bordin for the lead on lap 47 of the 60-lap contest, eventually winning by 7.08 seconds. Points leader Anthony Lazzaro, of Acworth, Ga., finished second, increasing his lead over third-place finisher Kenny Wilden, of Burlington, Ont., Canada, to a 40-point margin with three races left. Bordin led the first 46 laps, then tailed off to a sixth-place finish when his tires went away late in the race. "The car was right there the whole weekend," said Hornish, Jr., who drove the Michael Shank Racing-APC/Hornish Bros. Swift. "The tires held up pretty well, until about two laps after I passed Andrew. Then they started going bad. I was kind of worried about Anthony behind me, though." Hornish, Jr., started second - his best Atlantic qualifying effort - but third-place starter Lazzaro jumped him at the first turn, and by the end of the opening lap, Hornish had fallen back to fourth. By lap 17, however, he overtook Lazzaro for second, then sized up Bordin with 15 laps to go. On lap 47, Hornish slipped by the leader going into turn four, to take his first ever lead in an Atlantic race. Last week at Mid-Ohio, Wilden took the checkered flag for Shank Racing's first victory of the season. Wilden has scored top-five finishes at seven of the last eight races, including five podiums. "It's so great for us to win two in a row," said Wilden, Hornish's teammate. "Our goal was to take second in the championship, so we met our goal for the weekend. But I haven't given up on the championship just yet. Anthony's human. I have to believe something will happen." As it stands, Lazzaro has built a 150-110 points lead over Wilden with just three races to go. If Lazzaro gains five points on Wilden at the upcoming Vancouver event, he'll clinch the Atlantic Championship. "We definitely have our eyes on the championship," said Lazzaro, who himself has seven podium finishes. "I didn't mount too much of a struggle against Sam on the pass. I think he had the fastest car and I didn't want to blister the tires trying to race with him." Bordin, with new sponsor NTN emblazoned on his PPI-prepared Swift, looked poised to win his second race of the year before his right rear tire started blistering, losing two positions to Lee Bentham and Buddy Rice late in the race. Bentham, the reigning series champion, has endured a difficult season, but worked his way from 10th on the grid to a fourth-place finish, his best outing since his victory at Milwaukee in round four. Lynx Racing's Buddy Rice, of Phoenix, Ariz., finished fifth. Rocky Moran, Jr., in only his third Atlantic start, qualified fourth, and finished seventh in the P-1 Racing-Compaq/Epigram Swift. Hornish, Jr., garnered several awards en route to his first victory. For his passes on Lazzaro and Bordin, Hornish, Jr., won the $1,000 "Yokohama Now You've Got Control" award. He also earned the $1,000 "MCI WorldCom Fast Pace Award" for posting the fastest race lap at 26.607 sec. For taking his first-ever pole, Bordin earned the $1,000 "Toyota Pole Award." ESPN2 will televise Saturday's KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race at Chicago on Sunday, Aug. 29, at 10:30 a.m., with repeat broadcasts on Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 2:30 a.m., and on Friday, Sept. 3, at 2:30 p.m. The French-speaking RDS Canadian network will broadcast the race on Sunday, Sept. 5. Check local listing for the RDS time. ESPN International will televise the Chicago race on Sunday, Aug. 29, at 10:30 a.m. All times are Eastern. Canadian broadcaster CTV SportsNet is airing the race on Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 8 p.m., in all local markets.
The KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship continues Sunday, Sept. 5, at the Molson Indy Vancouver in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.