IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2006-06-26

INDY RACING LEAGUE NEWS AND NOTES -- June 26, 2006 Today's IRL headlines 1. Hornish powered to win by wife's lucky jeans?: 2. Hornish, Wheldon nominated for ESPY Awards 3. Drivers reap post-race rewards 1. Hornish powered to win by wife's...


Today's IRL headlines
1. Hornish powered to win by wife's lucky jeans?:
2. Hornish, Wheldon nominated for ESPY Awards
3. Drivers reap post-race rewards

1. Hornish powered to win by wife's lucky jeans?: Add jeans to the laundry list of purported lucky clothing in motorsports. But this story has a twist.

A few days before Sam Hornish Jr. claimed the biggest victory of his auto racing career in the 90th Indianapolis 500, a local shopping adventure included a gift of Rock & Republic jeans for his wife of almost two years Crystal.

Of course, she wore the hot fashion item on Race Day, which included an extended visit to Victory Lane. A myth was born.

The jeans didn't make it out of the motorcoach because of the quagmire at Watkins Glen International the next week, and the mojo didn't work out too well at Texas Motor Speedway. But at Richmond International Raceway, the freshly laundered jeans graced Victory Lane again.

Hornish dominated the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio, leading the final 212 of 250 laps on the 0.75-mile tricky oval. The victory -- the second of the season and 16th of his IndyCar Series career -- vaulted the Marlboro Team Penske driver to within five points of leader and teammate Helio Castroneves in the standings at the halfway mark.

Could this be the year team owner Roger Penske fills the lone blank space in his trophy case with an Indy Racing League championship cup? Seven events remain, including a road-course race at Infineon Raceway. Next up is the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway (July 2), where Hornish and Castroneves recently had strong Open Tests.

In 2002, Hornish -- then with Panther Racing -- denied Penske of the championship in the season finale at Texas. The two-time series champion would like to repay Penske and team president Tim Cindric.

"That's what I told Roger and Tim Cindric after winning the Indianapolis 500 in the close fashion that we did," Hornish said. "I said, 'I hope that makes up for Texas in '02.' They said -- well, they didn't really say anything. They wanted both, I think.

"But that's the good thing about that team, they all want more. I think that being able to come out here and to be running the way we are for the championship (is impressive). Last year, it was a major uphill struggle. We went through the first six races of the season thinking we had a shot and things kind of fell apart for us. We had some bad races and Dan (Wheldon) went on to continue to win a bunch of races.

"I just look at it as to be able to give Roger something that he first of all can't buy; and second of all has never been able to get before is an unbelievable thing. Indy was almost as satisfying for me to be able to win that for him as it was for me, and I think a championship would be even better.

"So we're just going to keep going. Try to win some more races. Try to make sure that we make it to the end of all of them, and hopefully we'll keep going with it and we'll do everything we need to do to win that championship. I don't want it to be one of those close things where I come down to the last race and I'm 10 points ahead of Helio and I have to win the race to beat him.

"I want it to be a little bit easier. I want to go in there and have 30 points at least. Probably won't happen, but we're going to try."

Crystal Hornish, clad in the lucky Rock & Republic jeans, will do her part on race day.


2. Hornish, Wheldon nominated for ESPY Awards: Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. and defending IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon were nominated for ESPY Awards by ESPN.

Hornish is up for the "Best Championship Performance" for his scintillating Indianapolis 500 victory. He is joined by Wheldon as a nominee in the "Best Driver" category. It was the second consecutive nomination for Wheldon, who was nominated in the same category a year ago.

"I am excited to be nominated again for the Best Driver category at this year's ESPY Awards," Wheldon said. "Even though I didn't manage to pick up the award last year, it was a great experience to be among so many talented athletes. The drivers nominated in my category are all exceptional competitors, and it is an honor to be recognized with them."

IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick is scheduled to present an award, while Marco Andretti is among the athletes invited to the ceremony.


3. Drivers reap post-race rewards: Sam Hornish again reaped the benefits from winning an IndyCar Series event.

As the SunTrust Indy Challenge Presented by XM Satellite Radio race winner, Hornish was presented with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT Camera and an engraved Aquaracer Automatic timepiece from TAG Heuer, the official timekeeper and watch of the Indy Racing League. TAG Heuer presents an engraved Aquaracer Automatic timepiece to the winner of each IndyCar Series event.

The Aquaracer concept is founded on providing the accuracy that all water sports demand. Based on the design and features of the timeless 2000 series, launched in 1982, TAG Heuer's watchmakers and designers have created an original, prestigious sports watch that is water-resistant to 300 meters.

Hornish also collected the Firestone Performance Award and its $10,000 prize for leading Lap 127 of the race, while Scott Sharp won the K&N Award and its $2,000 prize for being the highest-placed eligible finisher.

There was no Marlboro Pole Award awarded at Richmond after qualifications were rained out. The $10,000 prize will be rolled into the year-end fund.


The next IndyCar Series event is the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 at 1 p.m. on July 2 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be telecast live by ABC and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and The fifth season of Indy Pro Series competition continues with the Liberty Challenge on July 1 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The race will be telecast by ESPN2 at 2 p.m. on July 6.


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Series IndyCar
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske