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IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 550K

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Bombardier Learjet 550K

IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 550K

Sam Hornish, Jr.
June 9, 2007


THE MODERATOR: We are now joined in Victory Theatre by winner of the Bombardier Learjet 550k, Sam Hornish, Junior. This is Sam's first win of the season, first three-time IndyCar series winner at Texas, and this is his 19th career win, a record of any driver in the IndyCar Series.
Sam, a lot of excitement tonight. Talk about your run tonight.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: We had a great car tonight. Did everything that we wanted it to do. Fortunately we were only back in traffic one time. We only had to work our way up to the pack once and the car did exactly what we needed to do. Got right up behind Wheldon. I thought we had enough to get around him but wanted to try and conserve fuel, and the team has done an outstanding job in the pits all season long and they just keep getting better and better.
The two green flag pit stops that we had toward the end of the race there were just phenomenal. We were able to go from just being a little bit over a half-second ahead to being almost nine seconds ahead. Really, a great job was done by those guys.
Really feels good to be in the winner's circle after starting off the season, not necessarily didn't have any bad luck; we just couldn't get things to go our way. So I've said all season, we're right there. We're right on the edge; if we can get things to go our way.
Tonight the car was so good. We just needed things to not go against us. I'm just really happy with the job the guys have done.

Q. Have we got to the point yet -- the leaders are the slowest out of the three cars, yet it's very hard to pass the leader in this type of configuration. Are we still a bit of away from where we can see shootouts like we used to see?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Definitely I thought that the car that was capable of -- that was going to be hard for me to really get around was Kanaan. I could get beside him. I could almost get high him, but I couldn't get the job done. And I didn't want to keep forcing it, because basically I was running side-by-side and letting everybody else catch back up. I didn't want to get the whole pack going and take a chance and get taken out of the race.
I think if we would have been back there a little bit, maybe we have been able to get one of those high finishes, but I don't know -- I don't know, Tony was pretty strong. But we had a great car and the gears that my engineer picked out were dead-on. They were exactly what they needed to be. You know, even as they went down they got better.

Q. Middle of the race, when you were outside of Wheldon, it looked like you were practicing for a finish; is that what you're thinking about at the time?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: You'd like to know if you could do it or not. Like I said, I could get beside him and beat him to the line, but I only wanted to give him a couple of laps to try to get around him. I didn't want him to not be able to get back in behind him. I wanted to try and knew I could get it there at the line if I timed it right.
So the big thing for me was just to kind of fall back in behind him and try to save a little bit of fuel, because they went a little further did than I on the first run. I wanted to try to get a little bit closer to being back on their fuel strategy.

Q. Your next victory will be No. 20, and that may not sound like a lot, but you're still the all-time victory leader in the series. Talk about what it will be like to get into that plateau.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: It will be pretty big. For a while there last year, I thought that I might have an opportunity to get there before I got the 100 and to make it 20 percent, but unfortunately we didn't do that. It's been unbelievable. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would have won one Indy car race, rather than 19 of them, I would have told you were crazy; and that one of them would be the 500.
I have to every day really be thankful that I've been given so much. A lot of times I don't feel that I deserve it, but for whatever reason, I feel that I've been very blessed and look forward to the next race, because I know there's that next opportunity. And getting No. 20 would be great. Especially going to a new track or going to a place like Richmond where we've had so much success there in the past. It would be great to get it pretty soon.

Q. You led 159 laps tonight, and at one point from about 150 on, you started building the lead to four, five, seven seconds; what happened to the three-wide racing you had planned for tonight; you decided to abandon that idea?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, I didn't want to see too much of it unless I was trying to get around people. And I made it three-wide a couple of times as I was coming up through the pack. It was just for whatever reason, in the past I think that you saw guys that didn't necessarily know how the game was going to be played. They felt they needed to be two-wide the whole time running side-by-side and not a lot of room was given there in the past.
Now people are waiting a little bit more towards the end of race to make that final charge and to know that it needs to be side-by-side -- the thing was that everything got stretched out through the green flag pit stops, which is no fault of anybody's, other than the fact that it's just how things go.
I think that if you would have seen Wheldon, Dixon, Helio, Kanaan and Dario and myself all up there at the end of the race, definitely the last ten laps would have been interesting. I think that you would have saw a lot of two- and three-wide racing. It just didn't play out that way tonight.

Q. The way it played out, are you glad that this race has been lengthened, or can you share just your thoughts on did the extra laps really have an effect on you physically? Are you more tired? Is there anything along those lines with the extra time in the race?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I was pretty upset at lap 200 when the yellow came out and I knew that Tony was going to have a shot to catch back up to me when we had a nine-second lead and I was under yellow and I would have won. I was like, "Man, this is all I need now is a tire to go down or something to happen." You get into the lead and the car has been so good all night long that you're kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop and something bad to happen.
Obviously, you know, if I would have been in second at lap 200, I would have been glad that we had that opportunity. I think that it's always -- it's really a credit to the Texas Motor Speedway and what they do here. They are doing everything they can to be able to put on a good show for the fans. I think seeing it under green was a lot better than seeing it under yellow, which is what would have happened tonight.

Q. There was a lot of focus on Dan and Danica, she responded great by finishing third; what did you think of her efforts?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I think definitely it's her best finish so far. What can you say about it? Dan ran well all night. I don't know; I didn't see what happens with those guys, but I know it was something that I probably will see later on in the week.
You know, what can you say about it? I don't think that it was probably either one of the driver's -- that they had to go out and beat the other one. You know, I think that especially I haven't seen the Milwaukee incident, so I didn't know who was in the right and who was in the wrong. I hope that I never lose my head and push anybody or anything like that.
It's pretty tough sometimes because you're trying to control your emotions. Everybody wants you to be so emotional and happy when you win and to be doing jumping jacks and backflips and all kinds of things like that, but they don't want to see the bad emotions really. Sponsors don't like to see that and fans don't really like to see that at all because we're supposed to be representatives of our sport and we're supposed to be role models.
It's pretty tough because you have a lot of emotion in it, and a lot of times for me, my emotions are drained at the end of race; all I want to do is take a nap. Some guys do other things. I think that the biggest thing is that, you know, you move on. Because if you run enough of these races, I've run 100-plus races, and I probably had some kind of a problem with everybody that I raced against at one point in time or another and they probably all had a problem with me, as well.
The point is is that that you can't be thinking about that all the time. Because something somebody did to you five years ago and you're going to run them off the track five years later; it doesn't make any sense. You just have to kind of move on and say, you know what, that's what it was. We're all emotional. We're all out here to try and win. Sometimes we're going to make mistakes. It's a continual thing and you can kind of carry it out.

Q. In the last green flag segment there from lap 206 on, were you aware that besides Tony, Danica was there, and that they might be able to do something together, or were you just basically worried about --
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, I knew that Kanaan was there and the third car in the line there, especially Tony didn't seem like he could really keep it right down right there behind me. So instead of basically having a one-car draft, you're bursting twice as big of a hole in the air; so it really allowed her to catch up and run some good times.
So I think that the big thing about it was that TK was the first guy that was there that was the threatening one. And the thing I needed to make sure was not to lose my head and not to let him run on me and not be trying to throw a big block on him and let somebody else get in there. That's the thing that you see a lot of times is people get so worried about the car that is right behind them that they make a mistake, and not only do they lose one spot, but they lose several.

Q. So what did you think when you saw Checker (ph) standing on the racetrack there during that caution?
SAM HORNISH, JR.: On the racetrack?

Q. Did you see him walk out?

Q. He walked and through his glove at Marco.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: At Marco? (Laughter) I didn't see it, so I can't really -- we've all wanted to throw something at somebody at some point in time. Whether you do it or not -- like I said before, everybody is pretty emotional. And those two guys are probably, you know, from what I've seen, probably about the best of friends as you can be and be drivers and not on the same team.
So I think that just shows you how -- I don't like using the word emotional, but how emotional it is. You're putting your all into it; you're doing everything you can; you're going 220 miles an hour at the same time.
So it is -- it's like you're putting everything out on the line out there, and you have somebody that you think is going to do something and does something else, so a lot of times you don't think it's going to happen.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Sam.

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