Hornish Holds Off Challengers in Thrilling Texas Run It took an atypical seven races for his first win of 2007, but Sam Hornish Jr. was dominant in the second half of Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550K, holding off a determined...
Hornish Holds Off Challengers in Thrilling Texas Run
It took an atypical seven races for his first win of 2007, but Sam Hornish Jr. was dominant in the second half of Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550K, holding off a determined late-race charges from Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick to score his record third victory of his IndyCar Series career victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
It was, however, a "typical" Texas race with the first 195 laps featuring large packs of cars contesting positions throughout the field, often side-by-side. That came to a sudden end on Lap 196, as the Vision Racing car of Anthony Foyt IV lost a right rear wheel exiting Turn Four, leaving a multi-car pileup in his wake. Five cars were eliminated in the crash, including the front-running entries of Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon, with Scott Dixon able to resume only after losing 22 laps in the pits for rear suspension repairs.
Following the final restart on Lap 207, it was Kanaan, with an assist from his Andretti Green Racing teammate Patrick, who mounted the strongest challenge of the night, but Hornish held his Team Penske Honda Dallara on a low line, and Kanaan was unable to complete a pass on the high side and finished just seven-hundredths of a second behind the two-time series champion.
It was another successful weekend for the Honda Indy V-8 engine, with 100 per cent reliability throughout 1,498 laps of practice and qualifying as well as Saturday night's race, in temperatures often approaching 100 degrees.
Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti persevered without fifth gear to finish third and maintain his hold on the drivers' championship after seven of 17 races, while Panther Racing's Vitor Meira was just behind in fifth as this pair also dueled fiercely over the closing laps. Jeff Simmons led five laps enroute to sixth for Rahal Letterman Racing, his best result of 2007, with teammate Scott Sharp rounding out the top seven finishers.
Sam Hornish Jr. (#6 Team Penske Honda) Started 2nd, finished 1st, first win of 2007, third Texas Motor Speedway win, 19th career IndyCar victory: "We had a great car tonight. It would do everything I wanted it to do. We were lucky and only had to work our way through the pack once. The engineers gave us a great package, the gearing was spot-on, and the guys in the pits were phenomenal as always. It really feels good to be back in Winner's Circle. We've been right on the edge of it all year, but things didn't go our way -- until tonight. I have so many great memories at this place, both race wins and championships won here, that I think this is my favorite track now!"
Tony Kanaan (#11 Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 4th, finished 2nd, fourth top-three finish this season: "Danica [Patrick] helped me a lot in the final laps, and Sam [Hornish Jr.] was giving me a lot of room until the last two laps, which is perfectly fine. Sam was holding the low line, and I needed help from Danica to pass him. But we both started to push [understeer] in the last few laps, so I couldn't get close enough to do anything. But second, third and fourth -- this was a great result for the entire team tonight. It's no secret that really struggled at this type of track [1.5-mile ovals] last year, but the team owners invested a lot over the winter in working to fix that, and I think we're seeing the results now."
Danica Patrick (#7 Andretti Green Racing Honda) Started 6th, finished 3rd, best finish of 2007 and career best IndyCar result: "This was a good result for us, it feels good. We were strong all weekend, and I felt confident going into the race. We had a lot of push [understeer] early in the race, but we kept improving the car and it was really strong in the late runs. I tried to help Tony [Kanaan] as much as I could, but Sam [Hornish Jr.] was very strong tonight. It was a great day for Andretti Green, with Tony running second and Dario fourth."
Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "It was another successful weekend for Honda, with 100 per cent reliability throughout the weekend in hot and humid weather conditions and at a high-banked superspeedway. Congratulations to Sam Hornish Jr. and Team Penske. They were a very strong combination all night long. It's also good to see the Andretti Green team continue to run strongly on the bigger tracks. It's making the 2007 season even more interesting and competitive."