ANDRETTI: THE THIRD GENERATION

Pole Man Sam Hornish jr wins Thriller ahead of Marco and Michael Andretti

 

Sam Hornish jr praised God, his team and his parents. Then, with the milk bottle of the winner still in his hands, suddenly tears  had been seen on his face: I have lost my grandmother before qualifying. Then he expressed a clear opinion  on the performance of the man he had beaten by a length of a car, 19 years old rookie Marco Andretti: He should be proud. The grandson of legendary  1969 Indianapolis 500 Winner and 1978 Grand Prix World Champion Mario Andretti saw second place as a defeat, not as a success: It is nothing. I could have blocked him, but that meant we  had crashed  both. Mario, together with his twin brother Aldo, the head of the Andretti dynasty in motorsport having got their roots in Italy and former Yugoslavia, on the second place for Marco and third position overall of his son Michael: We love to drive. We love race cars.

Briton Dan Wheldon, Indianapolis 500 Winner in 2005, had been leading the 2006 event by 70  per cent, but when the hunt came to it`s end he was not able to be involved in the battle for the top. After a last Pace Car period until lap 195 with Michael Andretti leading ahead of his son Marco and Sam Hornish jr the three final rivals had been left alone on the front. Then Marco overtook his father three laps before the chequered flag coming out to look like becoming the youngest man ever winning the Indianapolis 500. Then Hornish started a fierce attack in the 199th lap catching the novice shortly before the finish line.

Sam Hornish jr  of Marllboro Team Penske had started from pole position, but he was, in contrast to Wheldon and Kanaan,  not one of the great challengers of the 90th edition of the Indianapolis 500. During the fourth Pace Car period he made a very poor pit stop, when the fuel hose remained in the filler when already leaving his pit. A lot of fuel ran out in front of the Penske pit, Hornish was given a Drive Through Penalty for it. So Hornish tried that thing, a potential winner in the brickyard always has to do: To stay in contact with the top, not to dominate the race under all circumstances.

As ever Roger Penske was standing in the pits as he is doing for some four decades. He had lost his second driver Helio Castroneves shortly after the middle of the race, when the Spiderman had rammed Danica Patrick`s team mate Buddy Rice. Another spectacular accident had happened before in lap 67, when the son of 1979 Grand Prix World Champion Jody Scheckter, Tomas, first had touched the wall outside to turn into the beginning of the pit wall (that is protected by tyres) with the gearbox bumping into it. Also Jeff Bucknum and his team mate P.J. Chesson  (collision already in lap 2), Al Unser jr, Jeff Simmons and Felipe Giaffione crashed, but no one of the drivers was seriously hurt. The Pace Car with seventimes Tour de France Winner Lance Armstrong behind the steering wheel had to come out five times. Tony Kanaan was driving the helmet design of his fellow countryman Rubens Barrichello and the other way round. Kanaan finished fifth place in Indianapolis, Barrichello took the same position in the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix taking place earlier the same day. Another fine performance came from Danica Patrick coming home eighth place this time.  With Arie Luyendyk jr, Marco Andretti, P.J. Chesson, Townsend Bell and Thiago Medeiros five rookies were at the start of the 2006 Indianapolis 500 and the youngest Andretti nearly had made the sensation perfect.

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