Sam Hornish Jr. Makes Pit Stop At White House

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It's certain that of the tens of thousands of people who will be at Michigan International Speedway for the July 30 Firestone Indy 400, a large percentage could correctly name George W. Bush as the President of the United States. It's also quite certain that out of those masses of people, a much smaller number would be able to say that they've had the chance to meet the holder of the Oval Office. After July 18, Sam Hornish Jr. can consider himself an important part of that small yet prestigious group. Hornish, the champion of the 90th Indianapolis 500 and current IRL IndyCar Series® points leader, was in Washington, D.C. recently with his wife Crystal, Penske Racing owner Roger Penske, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Executive Officer Tony George, and the rest of the Marlboro Team Penske contingent to meet Bush at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in honor of Hornish's May victory at Indianapolis. After a formal photo with the Borg-Warner Trophy, Bush and Hornish discussed the 26-year-old Ohio native's historic first Brickyard win, Hornish's first in seven tries at Indianapolis. "You had a close one there, how close was it?" Bush asked. "A little too close for me," Hornish replied. "I've had a few close races before, too, and my attitude is first is first," Bush said. While Hornish admitted that he didn't say everything that he wanted to say to President Bush, he'll soon get his chance to do some talking on the track behind the wheel of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda. After racing at Milwaukee this weekend and at the Firestone Indy 400 in the backyard of his hometown on July 30, Hornish will have just three races left until the season closes. If Hornish can maintain his slim points lead over Scott Dixon and teammate Helio Castroneves, he'll secure his third IndyCar Series championship and catch everyone's attention all over again. Hornish's whirlwind tour has kept him incredibly busy since his Indianapolis win, and even with the visit to Washington, it's not over yet. Wednesday, July 26 will mark "Sam Hornish Day" in his hometown of Defiance, Ohio, located just 70 miles from MIS. A parade will be held in the driver's honor and his hometown friends will get the chance to see him at home one last time before he goes north to Michigan and reaches for his first victory on the two-mile oval. Though he holds two IndyCar Series championships, Hornish has yet to win at Michigan International Speedway in four starts. His highest finish of second came in 2003 when he was edged at the line by Alex Barron by 0.0121 seconds, the closest open-wheel finish in MIS history. In the four IndyCar Series events at MIS, Hornish is one of just two drivers (along with Scott Sharp) to have finished in the top 10 in every race. Even as Hornish encounters the thrilling high banks of MIS and a surely exciting conclusion to the season, he understands that topping his visit to Washington will be pretty difficult to do. "There aren't too many things you can do in life where you get to go to the White House," Hornish said. "It's a pretty important day in my life." Tickets for the Firestone Indy 400 are currently on sale at MIS's official website, www.MISpeedway.com, or by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010. Tickets to all other events during the 2006 season delivered by Domino's Pizza, which include the ARCA RE/MAX Series Hantz Group 200 on August 18, the NASCAR Busch Series Carfax 250 on August 19, and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series GFS Marketplace 400 on August 20, are also now available. For tickets and information regarding events at MIS, log on to www.MISpeedway.com, or call the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010.

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