INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Aug. 25, 2003 -- Penske Racing Inc. officials announced Aug. 25 that two-time IRL IndyCarTM Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. has signed a multi-year deal to drive for the team beginning in 2004. Hornish will replace 2003 ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Aug. 25, 2003 -- Penske Racing Inc. officials announced Aug. 25 that two-time IRL IndyCarTM Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. has signed a multi-year deal to drive for the team beginning in 2004.
Hornish will replace 2003 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race champion Gil de Ferran, who announced he will retire following the 2003 season.
"I am thrilled to be joining Marlboro Team Penske," Hornish said. "The opportunity to drive for the most successful open-wheel team in history and to follow in the footsteps of the organization's remarkable driver lineage, including Gil, is an honor."
Hornish, 24, has scored nine victories in his IRL IndyCar Series career, more than any other driver. He is the only driver to win two IndyCar Series titles and has led a record 1,767 laps in his career. Hornish has earned 27 top-five finishes in 49 races.
"We are very pleased that Sam has chosen to become a part of Marlboro Team Penske," said Roger Penske, owner of Penske Racing Inc. "Sam is a great fit for the team both on and off the track, and we are confident we will achieve great success together."
Hornish will team with two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves for the 2004 season.
"Sam Hornish Jr. will be an excellent addition to Marlboro Team Penske," said Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing Inc. "Certainly, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to hire someone with Sam's ability. He and Helio will give us a great combination next season.
"Everyone within our organization appreciates what we have accomplished with Gil over the years. He has been a team player in all respects. We certainly wish him well in his future endeavors."
De Ferran has three races left in what has been a stellar open-wheel career. He captured his first Indianapolis 500 win on May 25 and won consecutive CART championships with Marlboro Team Penske in 2000 and 2001. He has scored four IndyCar Series wins and recorded seven wins in CART, four of those with Penske.
"My experience with Marlboro Team Penske is, without question, the pinnacle of my career," de Ferran said. "I felt it was important to stop while I was at my best. I wanted to wait until the end of the season to announce to everyone my decision to stop driving. However, I realize it is in the team's best interest for me to do so at this time so they have the opportunity to hire the best possible driver. I feel they have done so with Sam."
De Ferran is second in the 2003 IndyCar Series point standings and trails teammate Castroneves, 429-404.
"Gil's commitment to the team produced two national championships, eight victories, including our 100th win, and our 13th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race victory," Penske said. "He has certainly made a place in Penske Racing history as one of our great drivers."
Penske Racing is the most successful team in Indy-style racing history with 118 race wins, highlighted by a record 13 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race victories, 11 season championships and 142 pole positions.