IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500
Topics: Indianapolis 500, Penske Racing
Sam Hornish, Jr.
May 28, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome. 14-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, Marlboro Team Penske. Congratulations. It was a thrilling race.
TIM CINDRIC: 14 for you. Four for me.
ROGER PENSKE: You could see that Hornish was focused today, taking it easy at the beginning. He wasn't worried he didn't lead the first lap. You could see he wanted to be comfortable. The car was probably not the way we wanted it at first. We took a full turn, a wing out. It was a little too much. We put half a turn back in. He was right on pace. You could see that.
We came in, you could see over 70, 80 to go, we had the pit stop. At that point I said go. The fuel probe, we didn't quite get it out. You saw what happened. It was certainly my mistake.
At that point, instead of everybody falling over and closing our tent, we said, What is the next thing we can do? We said, Come back in, we'll wait till the last minute, put fuel in to give us that extra two gallons. Tim and I talked on the radio. We went to a position on fuel, I think fuel position six, gave us 3.4, 3.5. We were letting the leaders catch us. You could see when they came in, we had Michael, Marco.
The thing that I saw was when Sam could turn it up at the end, we had Dixon, Wheldon on fresh tires. That was a real finish. I told him, You have two laps here now, let's be careful. When he got into three, he got chopped a little by Marco. Got smart. Pulled over. We hired Hornish because he beat us like a drum. He sure did the same job on these people today. Got to give it to him. What a great finish.
THE MODERATOR: Tim, this has got to feel great.
TIM CINDRIC: Thank you. I can't say how happy I am for Sam. I know it was my dream to come work for Roger and win this race. He's living it today for sure. You know, to do it in that type of fashion, you know, you can't write a story much different than that.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take some questions.
Q. Roger, there's been one finish closer. Can you think of any you know that's been a greater finish than this?
ROGER PENSKE: Every one of them are exciting. I think you're so emotional. All of a sudden you wake up, we won the race. I can tell you one thing, with 50 to go, I thought we were going to go home and close our tent. Ganassi had had a terrific run with his two cars. Andretti Green was right there. It was anybody's ballgame.
That's what happens, you force yourself into the last 20 laps. With the ability to be up front, that yellow with five to go, I think we had as good a shot as anybody else.
Q. Roger, Michael said in here a while ago that as bad as it hurt, he said I wish it wasn't Penske. No telling how many times he's taken this thing away from us. Do you ever have any twinges about having taken so much away from the Andrettis here? Both Marco and Michael kept saying, Where did that speed come from on the close off four to the finish line? Where did that speed come from?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, number one, I regard Michael and Mario and certainly Marco now as good friends. We're competitors. Obviously we're here to win the race. They are, too. We had a chance here at the end. They had a good shot at it. The speed at the end is Sam Hornish. He ran 219 miles an hour on used tires. You saw early on he ran a 220. He kept his speed till the end. When it's time to go, I think you got to hand it to him. He is a fantastic oval racer. You can ask Michael, ask Mario, ask the people he raced against. Certainly Wheldon on fresh tires, I thought he was going to be the real tough guy to worry about.
At the end, the driver won this race.
Q. Roger, at the end of that pit stop miscue time, somebody had to tell Sam to stop at that point, or he stopped on his own because he knew there was still a piece of the fuel rig on?
ROGER PENSKE: I told him to stop. I told him go, go. I tell him stop. I told him to go. I thought it got stuck. Of course, when you see him coming out, you're trying to time it because we wanted to see if we could beat those guys out. It was completely my fault.
TIM CINDRIC: One thing, if I can interrupt, nobody had seen Sam run a hundred percent fuel for the last two stints of the race. He was sitting there running position six, which is about I don't remember if it's 10% or 12% lean. There's a lot less power just trying to make it to the end there. It wasn't till that restart. He hadn't run full fuel since maybe the start of the race.
ROGER PENSKE: Start of the race right away we went right to four. We could have run four our five more laps than the leader. We came in on I think lap 38, they came in on lap 35. Our goal was to stay out longer. I think it was -- it certainly paid off at the end.
Q. Restart off the final yellow?
TIM CINDRIC: From our standpoint, it wasn't -- surprised us he was going to be a lot faster because we kind of needed the yellow to be able to give him the fuel to go to the end. We hadn't done that for quite a while.
ROGER PENSKE: 25 laps, we turned it full rich. We had enough fuel to go at the end. That's all we needed.
Q. Roger, what was your impression of Marco's performance today?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, a young man 19 years old, racing for the lead on the Indy 500 with one lap to go, you'd have to say outstanding. I was focusing on Sam all day. I could see he was up there.
I saw Michael up there, too. What a great situation to see the father/son, they're leading, running 1-2 in the race. My focus obviously is on Helio and Sam. At the end, it was what we needed to do to get out front.
Q. Did you use that rear wing angle adjustor at all today?
ROGER PENSKE: No, we didn't.
Q. Tim, just comment on Helio's day a little bit. He had kind of a tough day getting started, the crash.
TIM CINDRIC: Kind of tough to take because we started out, we didn't give him a good car. We started out really loose at the beginning of the race. It was okay for the first 10 laps on the new set of tires. We continued to take front wing out. We got ourselves in a mess where we got a lap down. Then the caution. I can't remember which one it was, Scheckter, I can't recall which one. But when we came in, we were a lap down. We short filled the car so we could get our lap back. We jumped back out on the lead lap. We were waved around.
Then we thought we could maybe get back in the game. It was still a bit loose, but it was starting to come to us throughout the day. We were running around ninth or 10th, pretty much the last car on the lead lap. It was to the point where we needed a caution. In fact, when we were the caution, I didn't realize it at the time, said, that's what we needed (laughter). That's how that emotion goes.
ROGER PENSKE: I thought it was us.
TIM CINDRIC: My emotion went from we're back in this game to we're going home.
Anyway, it's a shame for Helio, especially since we had spent some time trying to talk to the spotters on Buddy's team. He was a lap down. We weren't even racing for position. When that happens, it makes your day even longer.
Q. As much as you dominated the month, did the scenario even enter into your mind where Sam was going to have to make a last-lap pass to win?
ROGER PENSKE: I knew we couldn't win it going away. I knew this had to be a race you're there all day. Where I thought we were really in the game is when it was Wheldon and Sam. He led for a while. They were careful. They let each other go by. They had a run. I they were doing some real good racing. I thought we were all in great shape. We all came in together. We fumbled the ball. Then, of course, it was a whole different scenario.
Then to see it play out that we did have enough fuel, we were ready to go at the end. At the end of the day, best man won.
Q. After the fifth stop, the drive-through penalty, did you have anything special to say to Sam over the radio, get everything back on track?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, what I always try to do is stay cool and calm. I said, Look, here is what we have to do. We got going. I asked for a calculation. Tim talked to me on the radio. He said we got to go to the end. We knew it was 3.4. We got to 3.3. We could get to 3.2 because we were getting good mileage, looked like we'd be in good shape. It was kind of clean up, get our senses. I didn't want him to overreact either. I think he could see today by staying cool, then going when it was time to go paid off.
Q. How much does Sam's victory today solidify his greatness?
TIM CINDRIC: From my perspective, as a guy that has won two championships, he's done virtually everything on almost every track that we go to, some people say he's an oval driver, this and that. What he's proven on the road courses I think tells me even more about his determination. Then to come here for that restart, those that know him know that he's not out of it yet. To see him go through there and not put a wheel wrong I think really shows you what he's capable of.
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I mean, when we got Sam Hornish, we knew we had if not the best oval racer of his time, you know, you compare him to Mears, Helio is different, has a lot more experience on road courses, but it gave us a real combination. We knew we weren't going to run three cars. We had two people that could win for us.
Today was exactly why he came to our team. Tim and I kept looking at ourselves, When are we going to give this guy a chance? Today certainly was his chance. He delivered. The pole position was outstanding. His demeanor all month. He was cool. I didn't see him till he came out to the car before the race. He was really -- really had himself relaxed today. I think he got in the car. You saw him at the beginning. He wasn't out there typical Sam Hornish leading every lap. He just waited. Made a couple adjustments on the car. He knew exactly what he had. When it was time to go, he was there.
Q. So much of your point throughout the month, we got to get through this without mistakes. Obviously you made some mistakes and won. How do you do that? Does that mean you're doing a lot of unnecessary worrying there?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, we made a mistake. But that's the great thing about a long-distance race. I think you've seen it. You get a chance to come back, with the yellow flags, pass-arounds, strategy. We were on the lead lap when it happened. We weren't going to lose that. We've had enough experience here to know, we looked at the calculations today. With computers, you're like this, we knew exactly what we had to have. Got it on the dash. He knew what he had to do to get that. We could turn the fuel down, have those settings in the car. In the old days, you couldn't have done that.
TIM CINDRIC: This race is so long, you look back to Jacques Villeneuve in 1995, two laps down and figures out a way to be there at the end. You never give up.
Q. Roger, was there any conversation between you and Sam after the 199 going into turn three? Did you have any conversation after that point?
ROGER PENSKE: I had told him, you know, Take your time. I don't know exactly the words I said to him. We had a couple laps, I said, Take your time. Of course, he got shut down there, which I would have done the same thing. There was nothing wrong with that. He pulled out. He said he thought he might have slid up into him. Sam thought he might have got up into him. He pulled out, had to get his momentum back.
Once he got -- I could see him go by Mario. Saw the speed he carried into one. Did a 219 lap there at the end against 214, it was a huge difference.
Q. Roger, did you ever envision 14 wins?
ROGER PENSKE: I didn't even envision I'd still be here (laughter). You were one of the guys that helped us the most back in '72.
I love racing. The most fun I have is seeing the guys, the team members, perform, providing them with the tools, getting sponsors that stay with us. This is the reason they do.
When you look at the 14 wins, there's probably a hundred people at each one of those that made the difference. That's why we won the race. It's not me, it's not Tim; it's the people that execute, the unsung heroes who do this work day in, day out, Clive, Jerry up there in the sun calling the spotting today, the workmanship, the reliability. I'd have to say, the engine, we didn't have one engine problem today. Amazing.
So I think hopefully this month of May will generate some more momentum for the sport. We need it to be next year like it was in '72 from the standpoint of the stands. I think Friday was great here with the pit stop competition. I think all of you know that. This race gives you great momentum. I can tell you, that's why we're going to run here. I can run here as long as I can get guys like Cindric to put up with me.
Q. You said you picked Sam because he has beaten you. Was there a particular race you said that you had to have him?
ROGER PENSKE: He just seemed to always do what he did to Andretti. We had three or four of them like that. He's an amazing guy at his age. I think coming with a team, he's matured. He was always a great race driver. It's a perfect combination. I think anybody up and down that pit lane, I think they would have to say that when it comes to oval racing, he's got to be on the top of your list.
TIM CINDRIC: Back in 2002 when Helio and he were racing for the championship at Texas, he beat us to the line there. Getting in the car, I told him, Just pretend this is Texas. All you got to do is race like it's Texas, you'll be fine.
Q. How do you like the new engine rule? You take that engine today, run Watkins Glen.
ROGER PENSKE: They don't have to take this one apart to see if it's got some special pieces in it at least.
Q. Do you think it's a good rule to take this engine? Obviously it was quick.
ROGER PENSKE: It's the same for everybody. I'm assuming the engines have about 1200 miles. We ran engines almost 800 miles this month, the same engine. In fact, they say they get power at the end. The car has a little more power at the end (laughter).
Q. Was there any concern at the end when there's four Andretti cars and two Ganassi cars and Sam is kind of by himself?
ROGER PENSKE: Well, I thought the decks were stacked the wrong way. No, we were -- in fact, I thought we were in a great spot there because you could get the draft behind the cars. Leading that race at the end coming down to the start/finish, probably a tougher spot to keep the lead because of the draft coming off of two.
It was hard to call. But he was -- Sam was in his environment. He was in his element with four to go. He could see the front. That's where he needed to be.
TIM CINDRIC: You saw everybody race pretty clean all day today. I know Dixon got in some issue with Kanaan. Toward the end of that race you saw Herta move over and let those guys race. You got to hand it to those guys to let the race happen. When it was Michael's turn, Michael did what he could.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome the winner of the 90th Indianapolis 500, Mr. Sam Hornish, Jr.
Sam, I was handed a variety of statistics about your team and you. Obviously I've had the great privilege to announce many of the races you've won. No. 1 in all time IRL competition, two-time champion. What statistics don't tell you I think is what Roger has been saying. I've seen you stare people down the most amazing eye-to-eye duels for years now and come out on top, Chicagoland. Talk about what was going through your mind. I must tell you, all that were matching on the next to the last lap said, He just blew it. How did you get around him?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, I kind of probably thought I blew it a little bit, too. I had a good run on him. Got to the inside. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. I guess that's the right way to put it. I figured, I came all this way, give myself one more shot at it. I didn't know if I'd catch up to him. I figured it would be better than stuffing the thing into the wall.
I have to say that on that first lap, first time I attempted it, didn't give me very much room. On the second time, he figured I don't know if they already warned him once or what's deal was. We were coming down for it. He gave me the room I needed. I know that it probably doesn't mean a whole lot to him right now. Come out here your first try, to make it all 200 laps, I never did to today either, to come out second in your rookie year is a big feat.
THE MODERATOR: Given that move, do you wish you would have waited and gone through the corner and tried to get him on the straightaway at that particular point?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, I thought I would have got him going down into three. There was just no room to turn the car. That was going to be the big problem. If I would have stayed back and tried to time it, I don't know if I would have ended up in the same position. Luckily it slowed me down enough that it got me right to the right position where coming off of four, I had a giant head of steam on him. I was either going to pancake the right side of the car or I was going to win the race, one of the two.
I figured, you know, it was really good the way it worked out. He held his line once I got there. It's tough to put it all into words because there were so many ups and downs today. When we had the problem in the pit, we thought it was over. How do we give ourselves an opportunity to get up there. We can make it on mileage if we try to stretch it out. The yellow comes out. You just don't know what's going to happen.
The car was great. It was the best that it was all day long right when we needed it to be. The gears were perfect. We fought it most of the time. That's the thing that I can't remember who told me that, three Cs, calm, cool, collected. Make sure you make it to the end. That's what I wanted to do.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.
Q. Although you haven't raced here as often as the Andrettis, you did feel earlier this month like you had to drive the perfect race to win here. Now that you've finally won here, describe the feeling?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Right now I stink a little bit, so I'm not sure I have the full aspect of it. Once I get a shower, I think I'll feel a lot better.
To go out there and to just dream of someday coming here and being able to race is one thing, being able to realize that goal. I remember how happy I was the first time I came here. Everything that I've done as far as being an IndyCar driver since then was bonus. I never dreamed of winning the Indy 500 until I came here for the first time. I think that's one of those things where I don't think I'll ever be able to fully appreciate what it means or be able to put it into words what it means to me.
I've had to hold back quite a bit today. I keep getting emotional about it. I got to try to figure out how to get through all this stuff without starting to cry and not be able to talk.
Q. You've contained your emotions so much. How do you then turn around and really step up to the plate? You're still calm.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: 'Cause I used up all my energy out there in the car, I think. I was yelling at the top of my lungs a couple times. The thing that you have to know is being a race car driver is when to push the button and when not to, when to fight your battles. We got blocked a couple times today by different guys. I was frustrated. But I kept going back to the fact, you know what, it's lap 30 or lap 90.
This race, like Brian Barnhart says in the driver's meetings every year we come here, this race I seldom won by the guy leading lap 190. We proved that today.
I mean, I just tried to contain myself as much as I could and tried to make sure we made it to the end. That's what I said my goal was all month long. I didn't want everybody to throw it in my face, You just ran the thing into the wall, I thought you were trying to make it to the end.
THE MODERATOR: One of the great stories of this month was the great effort by PDM Racing. Let's not forget this guy came to Indianapolis the first time with PDM Racing, used some of his own prize money to get to the next race. If there ever was an American dream story, this is certainly one of them.
Q. Sam, talk about that last lap with Marco, pretty much how he raced you clean. That's a situation where anything can happen. He gave you the room.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: On the last lap coming down there to the start/finish line, I kind of looked at it as I was going to drive over him if I had to. It didn't matter. Anything in between the walls, up to the walls, against the walls, I needed to go wherever I needed to go. The thing was so fast coming off the corner, I don't know if you had enough time to react to it.
That's one of those things where I've always kind of looked at my life, my career, all the wins in the world don't mean anything if you can't be glad about it at the end of the day. I don't ever want to win a race like that, feel like I cheated somebody out of the opportunity to win. I'm sure there's a lot of other people that feel the same way about that.
Q. Both Michael and Marco kept saying over and over, Where did that speed come from right at the last. Michael theorized maybe just the point you had to get off the throttle a bit might have given you exactly the run you needed. Was it more the margin you got there that worked out for you or did you have the fuel measure turned up enough?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I think it was the fact that we had the fuel turned all the way up. Of course, you're going to for the last couple laps. One of the things is the fact that he did slow me down enough. It gave me enough of a run coming back at him to do that. If I were would have just probably got out of it a little bit, waited to make the move going down into turn one, I think maybe the same thing would have happened.
I think that was the car that we didn't race against most of the day. Like the saying goes, it's not often the fastest car that wins the race, but the one that didn't make any mistakes. I think he was up there because he didn't make any mistakes. He was there all day long. I hadn't ran against him. I ran in the top three most of the day and didn't run against him all day long. Didn't have to run against him till the last three laps. I think that's part of this kind of a race, when the chips are on the table, you got to get going.
Q. Your previous answer was talking about if you had felt like you had cheated somebody out of a win. If you were sitting second place right now, the situation down there in three had turned out to determine the race, would you feel like you had been beaten unethically if that block of his had worked?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I would have been happy to make it to the end of the race because that's what I wanted to do. That's what I said I wanted to do all month long. I would have tried to figure out how to not let that happen to me again, but I would be -- I wouldn't be as thrilled as I am right now, but I still would be happy just to have made it to the end. Like I said, I hadn't done that in six attempts.
Q. You talked about making the fewest mistakes. Your team made one. What was going through your head as you finally did get out of the pits after that one?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Probably the first thing that came to my head is, I can't believe this is happening. The second thing that came to my head is, The last two years I put the car in the wall, so I better shut up and not say anything.
Q. You've won a number of races like this, a lot on banked ovals. If he had been on the inside of the track, would it have been harder to get around him?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I think he did everything that he would have been able to do regardless of what kind of track it was. He picked the line that was fastest for him. He went with it. It wasn't enough.
Q. What is it like for you guys to have a dream come true? Roger, you've had one or two. Sam, you had that today. Tim, you had that through Sam and Roger. Talk to us about that.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: All right. I'll go first, I guess. I don't know. The first thing that these guys said to me is, Have you woke up yet? I don't know. It's unbelievable. You go out there and you work hard for something. Everybody goes out there and they work hard. It's not like somebody just gets up in the morning, said, I don't really care whether I win this race or not. Everybody wants to go out there and win. Everybody works hard. All the teams work hard.
It's being able to position yourself with the best team, the best driver, then also making the most out of everything that you have, even if it's the bad things. How do we make ourselves better because of it?
Last Sunday afternoon I was furious with myself because I went out there and put the car in the wall. It took me a little while, probably until lap 199 and seven-eighths when I crossed the finish line before I got the confidence back in myself for going out there and doing that. All the problems that you have along the way make it so much sweeter.
I can't put it into words exactly what it means to me, but it's the best day that I'll ever have as far as my career goes. There's other things outside of racing, getting married, having kids, that stuff, that are great. Those shine above those things. As far as my professional career goes, anything outside of my family life, this is the best day that I'll ever have.
ROGER PENSKE: My position as the team owner, we make commitments to people. I made a commitment to Sam, to his mom, to his dad, to Crystal, that we were going to give him the best car. We looked at each other a couple of times over the last 24 months. Did we really supply him with that? I think as we started this season, we said that I think we got a package this year. We knew we had the race driver.
Tim and I talked about it. Obviously, Helio is a tremendous teammate. This one was so super for us to get through the gate here and make it happen. I'll tell you, it was up and down. But we never gave up. Sam didn't give up. He gave us that fuel mileage we needed. He knew the number. As I said earlier before he came in, he had the car. He was patient all day long, very patient all day long. We made the mistake in the pits. It wasn't his fault. You know something, he stayed cool. We were on a strategy. It was amazing. We had a chance to go for it.
A dream come true, if I would have dreamed we were going to win the race after I saw half that fuel hose hanging out there, I guess that came true to me at the end.
TIM CINDRIC: I never said it all month because I thought I'd jinx it, when I saw the way the pace car was painted, I looked at that and said, That looks a lot like Sam's helmet. That's going to be pretty cool sitting in Defiance, Ohio. I never said it all month, didn't want to jinx him. I'm sure he noticed but didn't say anything either.
Q. How ragged of a ride was the last three and four corner? Were you really hooked up? Win or crash scenario?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Yeah, you obviously never want to crash the car. I was going through there as hard as I could. It was for everything. It was for all the marbles. You don't get too many times like that at the Indy 500 where you're out there and you have a chance to win the race right in front of everybody on the last lap.
I'd love to win one by about five laps, but it never seems to work out that way. The thing for me was, you know, I was flat out, as hard as I could go. I actually had to lift a little bit coming off of turn four. If I didn't quite lift, I don't know if I would have made it around the corner. I ran it pretty hard in there hoping it was going to stick. I waited till the exact last second where I could get back out of it. It was just for a second. Enough that the front end kind of sat down, it started to turn again, I got back on the throttle, there I was. I was still going quite a bit quicker than him at the time.
It was probably the good thing to do, just make sure that you make it to the end, see what happens.
Q. Roger, when it comes to close finishes here, you lost one in '82, then won this one today. Compare and contrast the two.
ROGER PENSKE: '82, Mears had already won the race. I'd have to say today, this is the one that really counted to give Sam his first win.
Q. Knowing your father over the years, he said when you were a kid, there was no plan to turn you into a race driver. Your career just developed that way. What is it like to repay your father's faith in your career by taking him to Victory Lane in the Indianapolis 500?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Do you want the long or the short version? The thing for me that was hardest growing up and being a race car driver, racing the go-karts, moving to Formula Ford, Toyota Atlantics, every time I started to get good at something, he'd make me to go to the next level. He never wanted me to be the big fish in the small pond.
Once I got here and I realized that this is something I was able to do, I thought, well, he got me here at a much younger age than probably I would have ever expected to be. Yeah, it was tough, but it gives you the opportunity to have seven tries and still be 26.
It's an unbelievable feeling. Two years ago when I won the most popular driver award, Tony flew us in the helicopter from home to here for the award. He told me, about 50 some years before that, coming through the turn three tunnel with his dad, he said now I'm flying in here with you. I said, Yeah, we had to take you everywhere.
For me it was kind of the opposite thing. He took me everywhere. I think that's part of what makes me -- what makes it so neat for me, I've been blessed with a family that's willing -- a mom and dad that's willing to be a part for however long I'm racing, my dad being with me, coming to all these races. My wife comes to all the races. I'm just very lucky that not only to have that, but also to have had a lot of things go right in my career, go sooner than I thought they should. Also to be with a team that I'm at, I didn't know if I'd ever win this race.
I put a lot of -- a lot of seeds out about not being able to. It may not ever be my day. Today it was. To not only repay what my dad was able to do for me, my mom, Crystal, but also what Roger and Tim have been able to do for me, give me everything that it took to go out there and win. I'm glad that I was able to pull through and do that for them because we made a lot about the last couple years maybe not feeling like we had everything it took to win here. The only downside to that is when you get everything that you need to win, you got to go out there and do it.
Q. Can you put into words what you think your grandmother would say to you?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Probably one or two things. Either, For pity sakes, because I think that's what she said a lot. A couple years ago on her birthday, we had everybody together, and she said, My cup runneth over. There's a poem about that. I think that's what she would say today.
Q. The last couple years you have struggled, under-horsepowered. Did you spend a lot of time working on the chassis?
TIM CINDRIC: From my perspective, I think it might look that way. I think the challenge for us was to remain focused when you would go to races where you weren't a hundred percent sure you had a chance. The people that we have, I think they work just as hard independent of whether they thought they had a chance or they didn't. That's a big challenge.
Kind of our motto the past couple years was to take everything to the racetrack we could possibly take no matter how competitive it was or wasn't going to be. I think that's just the people. We continue to find the right people. There's a lot of, like Roger said, a lot of unsung heroes that are trying to find that last little bit. They're willing to stay as long as it takes to find it. I think that's really the key to our success is the people.
The physics and all the rest of it we're continually working no different than we did in '01, '02, '03, but making sure we stayed focused instead of putting up our hands and saying that we can't win.
ROGER PENSKE: Good answer.
Q. Sam, your first year with PDM, you missed races because you didn't have the money. Did you ever think you weren't going to make that next step? Can you imagine being here now?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: It's all the little things that count in a team as far as taking every bit that you can. My mom and dad helped me out quite a bit, as much as they could. We had some other small ones. We turned everything we won basically back into the car. Ended up selling 2500 cordless phones from Uniden. You think 2500 isn't very many. Then you count that high. I mean, geez. That's a lot to do with people in Defiance and also the surrounding areas of northwest Ohio. My mom, people that worked for my mom and dad, are selling these phones, peddling them any way they could. Truck drivers are taking them to the different plants we deliver to, putting them in their offices or whatever trying to get people to buy them.
It's really pretty a neat deal that so many people have been able to help me. I went and done the test for Panther. They told me I'm on the short list. The Nashville track was getting ready to hop open. They had Billy there at the time who wasn't their driver in a Pennzoil uniform doing the test. I thought, That's strange. I don't know what to think about that. I must not be on the short enough list.
I'm sitting actually at Crystal's mom and dad's house, talking about it. She said, Are you going to go to the race this week? I was kind of like, I don't know. I don't have any reason to right now. About 10 minutes later, the cell phone rings. It's (indiscernible). He said, Are you ready to go race? I said, Yeah, whatever.
The race was on Sunday. Led my first laps in IndyCar competition. Got out of the car, my foot had gone numb because I was pushing so hard on the gas pedal. Limping down pit lane because we ran out of gas coming to the start/finish line. John Barnes comes up and said, What do you think about going down to Houston with me tomorrow, we'll introduce you to people at Pennzoil because I want you to drive the car after what I saw today? I thought, wow. Tuesday night I went down there, they said good. We went on with it.
How much things change in one week. It's been about like this week. Last Sunday I was so mad at the end of the day. Today I'm unbelievably happy. Each one of those things was a piece of the puzzle to be able to get to where I'm at now. I'm really proud of all the racing that I've been able to do, the people I raced against, the people I raced for. You got to go out there and continue to move yourself up, try to be the best that you can be. I feel that I'm with a team now that gives me exactly what I need to be able to do that. Hopefully we'll go on, continue to win.
I look at Helio today. He didn't have the kind of day he wanted. I think he's still probably leading the championship in points. We go to a road course which he's pretty good at. We often joked about the fact he won two 500's, and that's what I really wanted to win. But I won the championships. He won the 500s, wanted too really win the championships. Maybe he's got a shot at it now since the 500 didn't go very good for him. We'll give him a good run. I know he's going to be strong.
Each day is something new, brings something new. I'm looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on a great day.
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