July 30, 2006 on ABC
OHIO CELEBRATES SAM HORNISH JR. DAY
Michigan International Speedway
MI. – For
the residents of Defiance, Ohio, Wednesday, July 26 was like Christmas,
Easter, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one evening. Their Indy
500 champion and more importantly, their native son, was back home.
IRL IndyCar® Series championships and his recent Indianapolis
500 win, Sam Hornish Jr. has proven to be anything but the typical
aloof superstar. As he stood before thousands of people during Wednesday's
Sam Hornish Jr. Day in the charming northwestern Ohio city, the
27-year-old IndyCar Series points leader accepted the praise of
his neighbors with a refreshing air of astonishment and humility
as they all gathered to celebrate his historic win in the 90th Indianapolis
500 back in May.
always been a big fan of my hometown. I remember coming out for
the Halloween parade, but I never thought I would have a Sam Hornish
Day parade,” said Hornish. “It's something I never would
have expected in my entire life, so to have it happen is a little
bit different. The way I look at it, I'm really honored that they
wanted to do it. Outside of winning the (Indy) 500, this is probably
one of the best days of my life. I was worried that there weren't
going to be many people.”
presumably his focus in the form of his upcoming start in the Firestone
Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway, the driver of the No.
6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda still kept his fans in mind, waving
to children and adults alike along the Clinton St. parade route
and later, posing for pictures and signing autographs in the mall
parking lot well after the evening's on-stage activities had wrapped
a special individual. He's never forgotten his roots and he's remained
a loyal supporter to the citizens of our community. On and off the
track, Sam Hornish is a champion,” said Defiance mayor Bob
parade included a collection of Corvettes, the MIS pace car, historic
Indy cars, and even a visit from the original Batmobile. The car
driven by Hornish to victory at Indianapolis was pulled on a trailer,
and groups of Shriners from around the Buckeye State entertained
the crowd throughout the festivities. The half-hour parade could
have been “made into a three-hour parade if we wanted to,”
hometown celebration now behind him, Hornish turns his thoughts
to the next thing: winning at MIS. Despite all his success in open
wheel racing, Hornish has never won a race at MIS, Nashville or
Motegi. A win in this weekend’s Firestone Indy 400 could knock
one of those tracks off his list.
been very fast on the mile-and-a-half’s this year, and we
were fast at Indy, so I think that if all things continue that way,
we should be quick up at Michigan,” said Hornish of his long
track success. “The big thing is to make sure we don't get
it taken away from us at the end like we did there in 2003. All
400 miles is the goal. I think that if we can do that, we'll be
in the top five and if we can do that, we can have an opportunity
to win. Hopefully, we'll be able to get a win in Michigan and pad
that points lead.”
lead Hornish speaks about is certainly one admired by the Ohio native's
rivals. Andretti Green Racing's Bryan Herta, currently tenth in
points, knows a thing or two about Marlboro Team Penske's 2006 dominance;
it was his AGR squad that won series championships with Dan Wheldon
and Tony Kanaan in 2005 and 2004, respectively.
“They're a bunch of dirty buggers,” Herta said of Team
Penske. “Seriously though, as a competitor, you can respect
what they're doing right now. They're not showing any weaknesses.
Every type of track, they're on pace and they're difficult to beat
every single weekend right now.”
the Firestone Indy 400, Hornish comes to a track at which he has
experienced reasonable success. In four starts, he has finished
no lower than seventh, and his highlight finish came in 2003 when
he finished second to Alex Barron by 0.0121 second, the closest
open-wheel finish in track history. He is just one of two drivers
to have finished in the top 10 of each of the four IndyCar Series
races in MIS history. As he comes to the Irish Hills to race again
at the speedway located just 70 miles from his hometown, he hopes
to repeat his Indy success.
had so many hometown people at Michigan in the past. Hopefully someday
I'll win there,” said Hornish.
supportive crowd has any say over Sunday's winner, look for Hornish
in Victory Lane.
Tickets for the IRL IndyCar Series Firestone Indy 400 delivered
by Domino’s Pizza are available by calling 1-800-354-1010
or by visiting www.MISpeedway.com.
Children 12 and under are free to all Firestone Indy 400 weekend
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