IRL: Hornish's team wins Indy pit stop competition

IRL: Hornish's team wins Indy pit stop competition

Sam Hornish Jr's Marlboro Team Penske ...

Sam Hornish Jr's Marlboro Team Penske #6, led by Matt Jonsson, won today's Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the second round of the four-round elimination the #6 team went head-to-head with the #3 team car driven by Helio Castroneves, and pulled out a fast time of 8.08 seconds, beating the #3 team by a scant two tenths of a second.

Pitstop challenge: Sam Hornish Jr..
Photo by Dana Garrett - IRL.
This is the eighth victory for Team Penske. The last time they won was in 2002, and the winning pit stop car went on to win the 500.

"It's great for confidence," Matt said of the victory. "The guys have been working really hard, especially last week, on trying to customize our stops. It's competition and everything, but it also gives confidence for the race. Helio managed to win the race in 2002 after he won this. Pit stops mean a lot at this track, and we're going to try to position Sam to be in the top four or five at the last pit stop and hopefully get out there and help him to win this."

"Today is a day to not let the guys down," said driver Sam Hornish Jr. "There's usually something there for me on race day, but today is just about these guys and what they're able to do. Not only do they do their normal work of getting the primary car ready, but they build up a T-car for us and also do pit stop practice. These guys do an awesome job. Sometimes they don't get recognized, but today they showed exactly what they're capable of doing - and that's winning."

"Momentum is everything here," said team owner Roger Penske. "We've had our ups and downs over the years, but the pit stop contest has always been something we've challenged our guys on. Today we went head to head with them. One did an 8 second stop and one did an 8.2. It shows how close we are. I take my hat off to Matt - he's pulled this crew together, every one of them. He's been working, working. We're going to need that same precision, with absolutely no mistakes on Sunday, and we can win this race."

The victory was not without some thrills. In the first round, the #6 was paired with Dario Franchitti's Andretti Green Racing #27. The timing system failed to record the #27's time. Rather than just sit back and watch Franchitti take a solo run, the #6 team elected to run head-to-head again. On the do-over, they bettered their original time - which was better than the #27's time - by almost four tenths of a second. The head-to-head run against their #3 teammate was delayed by a brief rain shower, but neither Penske crew allowed the weather to cramp their style.

The purse for the twelve-entry, four-round elimination is $80,000, with the winning team receiving $30,000.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Roger Penske , Sam Hornish Jr. , Sam Hornis
Teams Team Penske