Indy Racing champion Hornish enjoys True Value IROC cars at the Brickyard. INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, June 11, 2002 -- Defending Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. tested True Value International Race of Champions stock cars June 11 at the...
Indy Racing champion Hornish enjoys True Value IROC cars at the Brickyard.
INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, June 11, 2002 -- Defending Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. tested True Value International Race of Champions stock cars June 11 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the True Value IROC at Indy race Aug. 3.
The True Value IROC series is racing's "all-star game." Twelve of the best drivers from various series compete in equally prepared True Value IROC stock cars in a four-race series that concludes at the Speedway.
Hornish joined fellow True Value IROC competitor Danny Lasoski, 2001 World of Outlaws champion, as well as True Value IROC test drivers Andy Hillenburg, Dave Marcis and Jim Sauter on the famous 2.5-mile oval.
"The test went really good," Hornish said. "I was really surprised with how well the car was handling. I drove two different cars, and one was a little bit better, but I think that had a little bit more to do with my driving style as I become a little bit more acclimated to a bigger car on this track."
This is the first test for Hornish in a True Value IROC car at the Speedway, where he has started the Indianapolis 500 three times. Hornish was selected to drive in the series by winning the 2001 Indy Racing League championship, and it's an experience that he has enjoyed.
"I'm excited about it," Hornish said. "I love going and doing the IROC races because it's something different than what I get to do the other 15 times a year."
Hornish is third in the Indy Racing League standings in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 56 points behind Helio Castroneves and 12 points behind Castroneves' Marlboro Team Penske teammate, Gil de Ferran. He is sixth in True Value IROC points, one point behind fellow Indy Racing League competitor and two-time IROC champion Al Unser Jr. and 14 points behind series points leader and 1996-97 Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart.
Hornish finished second in his True Value IROC debut in February at Daytona International Speedway behind Stewart, but struggled in Round 2 in April at California when he finished 11th.
"The first race I really enjoyed; the second race was kind of a bummer," Hornish said. "It's still fun. I mean, you get to race against different people, and I'm just really amazed at how friendly everyone is. The people at IROC, Jay (IROC president and general manager) and Barbara Signore, do an awesome job. The make it a lot of fun, make it like home. I feel like when I come to this race (IROC), I feel like I'm going to an IRL race because all the same people are here, and everyone is so friendly."
With the True Value IROC season half over, Hornish has three Indy Racing League events before Round 3 of True Value IROC on July 13 at Chicagoland Speedway, and another two IRL races before the IROC season finale at Indianapolis. That requires him to adjust each time he hops from his 1,550-pound, open-wheel Indy Racing car to a 3,500-pound, fendered True Value IROC car.
"You've got to understand what the car is capable of and what changes you need to make to your driving style," Hornish said of the True Value IROC car. "There are not a whole lot of things that are too terribly different or too hard to get by. It just takes practice time."
Rain cut True Value IROC testing short around 2 p.m. (EST) Tuesday, and Hornish began to contemplate this weekend's Radisson Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Hornish finished second last year after leading 152 consecutive laps from Lap 5-156. Buddy Lazier took the lead from him on Lap 157 and never looked back, winning what was then a 200-mile race. This year's event will be 225 miles.
"I hope our car handles as well as it did last year and that we lead 150 laps like we did last year," Hornish said. "I just hope we don't finish second."
True Value IROC testing continues Wednesday. Lasoski and the IROC test drivers will test again while NASCAR Winston Cup standout Ryan Newman also is scheduled to test.