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Sam Hornish, Jr. (born July 2, 1979 in Defiance, Ohio) is an American race car driver and Indianapolis 500 champion, currently driving in the Indy Racing League for Penske Racing. He also competes in the invitation-only International Race of Champions.

He first raced in the IRL in 2000 with the PDM Racing team, with a best finish of third. However, he swiched to Panther Racing for the next season and improved enough to take the title from reigning champion Buddy Lazier. In 2002 the Penske team switched from Champ Car, and Sam was able to beat their top driver Hélio Castroneves to his second title. Along the way, Hornish beat Al Unser, Jr. by .0024 of a second in the Delphi Indy 300 in Chicago, thought to be the closest auto race in history.

In 2003, most of the established top US open-wheel teams were now racing in the series, with Honda and Toyota providing engines superior to the established Chevrolet unit Panther used. As a result, Cosworth was called in to supply a replacement engine informally dubbed the "Chevworth", with which Sam was a winner again, finishing 5th in the 2003 standings. For 2004 he moved to Penske, winning the season-opener but finding that Honda engines, and not Penske's Toyotas, were now the engine of choice. 2005 was an improvement, as he finished third to Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan in the standings and the top placement of any driver not driving for Andretti Green Racing.

On May 28, 2006, after starting on the pole for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, Hornish won the race by a 0.0635-second margin over rookie Marco Andretti. Also in that year, he won the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Scott Brayton Award, awarded annually to the driver best exemplifying a spirit of tenacity as well as friendliness amongst the race's participants. Hornish went on to win the 2006 IRL championship in the final race of the season by a tiebreaker over defending champ Dan Wheldon. He became the first 3-time champion in IRL history.

On October 28, 2006, Hornish announced that he will attempt to run the final two 2006 NASCAR Busch Series races for Penske Racing, as well as select events in 2007

Throughout his racing career, Hornish has worked with performance scientist and consultant Dr. Jacques Dallare, on physical and mental testing and to improve conditioning.

He married his longtime girlfriend Crystal Liechty in 2004.

Hornish is a 1998 graduate of Archbold High School in Archbold, Ohio. Hornish is a member of Omega Lodge # 564 F & AM.


Career Highlights






  • Finished seventh in point standings in first season driving for Marlboro Team Penske. Earned one win (Richmond), six top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes in 16 events.
  • Became first driver in Penske Racing history to win his first race with the team (Homestead-Miami Speedway).


  • Scored three victories en route to fifth-place finish in point standings. Won at Kentucky Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and California Speedway. Scored eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes.
  • Averaged 207.151 mph en route to a victory in the Toyota Indy 400 at California Speedway, the fastest ever automobile race on a closed course. Won Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway by .0099 of a second over Scott Dixon and .0100 of a second over third-place Bryan Herta. The finish was the closest 1-2-3 finish in IndyCar Series history.


  • Won IndyCar Series championship for Pennzoil Panther Racing in dramatic fashion, defeating Helio Castroneves 531-511.
  • Defeated Al Unser, Jr. by .0024 of a second in Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland, the closest finish in IndyCar Series history.
  • Scored a league-record five wins and tied Buddy Lazier for most career victories with eight.
  • Led 654 of 3,100 (21 percent) possible laps, more than any other driver. Led 12 of 15 races, tied with Castroneves for most races led.
  • Competed in first season of True Value IROC competition, finishing 11th in points. Finished second in season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.


  • Won IndyCar Series championship in dominant fashion for Pennzoil Panther Racing, beating second-place Buddy Lazier 503-398.
  • Scored three victories, including the first two races of the year at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami, which were also his first two races driving for Pennzoil Panther Racing. Also won season finale at Texas.
  • Completed 2,643 of a possible 2,650 laps of competition.
  • Earned 12 top-10 and 11 top-five finishes.
  • Competed in Porsche Supercup series during United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.


  • Competed in eight IndyCar Series races for PDM Racing, recording a best finish of third at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
  • Led 38 laps at Kentucky Speedway in first IndyCar Series race. Finished ninth after running out of fuel and then receiving a black flag for a pit violation.
  • Qualified 14th and finished 12th at Indy 500.


  • Passed Indy Racing League rookie test Dec. 6 at Walt Disney World Speedway in a car prepared by PDM Racing.
  • Competed in Toyota Atlantic series with Shank Racing, winning at Chicago after starting second. Named Rookie of the Year after finishing seventh in point standings.
  • Co-drove a Lola T98/10 in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona for Intersport Racing.


  • Competed in U.S. F2000 series for Primus Racing, earning career-best finish of second at Pikes Peak. Earned two top-three and six top-five finishes en route to seventh-place in point standings.


  • Competed in U.S. F2000 series for Bordin Racing, with best finish of 11th at Pikes Peak and Charlotte.


  • Made six starts in U.S. F2000 series with family-owned Hornish Racing. Finished 10th at Watkins Glen International after starting 33rd.

Early career

  • Began go-kart racing on his 11th birthday as a father-son activity. His father was a mechanic on his team until he joined the IRL in 2000. Won two U.S. Grand National Championships, the U.S. Junior Class National Championship and Canadian Grand National Championship in World Karting Association competition.
Preceded by:
Buddy Lazier
Indy Racing Northern Lights Series / Indy Racing League Champion
Succeeded by:
Scott Dixon


Preceded by:
Dan Wheldon
IRL IndyCar Series Champion
Succeeded by:
Dario Franchitti


Preceded by:
Dan Wheldon
Indianapolis 500 Winner
Succeeded by:
Dario Franchitti

External Links


This article uses material from the "Sam Hornish, Jr." article on the The Third Turn wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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