Barron Beats Hornish

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Alex Barron won the fastest race in IndyCar Series history with an average speed of 180.917 mph in the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway July 27.

Barron, driver of the No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force, won the fourth-closest finish in Indy Racing League history by edging Sam Hornish Jr. by 0.0121 seconds. Barron is in his second race with Mo Nunn Racing, substituting for the injured Felipe Giaffone, who suffered injuries during the Kansas Indy 300 on July 6. This is Barron’s second-career IndyCar Series victory. The first for the Menifee, Calif., resident came last year at Nashville Superspeedway.

Hornish, driver of the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara car, led the most laps with 126, including 21 of the final 30. But Barron led the final lap, taking the lead coming out of turn four and beating Hornish by a nose at the finish line.

The final 30 laps resulted in a seven-car sprint to the finish between Barron, Hornish, Tomas Scheckter, Scott Sharp, Scott Dixon, Tora Takagi and Gil de Ferran.

“I think he (Hornish) used a lot of his power in the last four to five laps,” Barron, 32, said. “The last two laps he seemed to slow up just a little bit, and I just got a good run off of (Turn) 4. I speeded up a little early, and we just kept pulling away from him. That is all we needed.”

On Lap 164, Barron and Scheckter touched coming out of Turn 4, causing Barron to spin. He was able to keep the car off the wall, and he rejoined the hunt after the incident brought out a yellow. It was one of only four cautions on the day. With 36 laps remaining following the yellow, Barron restarted in sixth place.

“Part of that is luck when you are going that fast and you spin around,” Barron said. “You just guide it the best way that you can, and you are just fortunate if it goes back straight.”

It’s not the first time a driver has brought out a yellow and gone onto win the race. In the 1998 Indianapolis 500, Eddie Cheever Jr. did a quarter-spin to the left in Turn 1 on Lap 1, trying to avoid J.J. Yeley, who had spun in front of him. Cheever went on to win the event.

Hornish, racing the new Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 engine, has been a part of six of the 10 closest finishes in IndyCar Series history. He’s won four and finished second in two of them.

“It felt pretty good to be out front. It was a good test for our new engine,” Hornish said. “I'm real happy that the new Chevrolet did everything that it was supposed to do today. We just came up a little bit short. We won quite a few races like that so we can't be too disappointed about the one we lost. I knew he had to go to the outside because there wasn't any room on the inside.”

With his fifth-place finish, Dixon is the new points leader after Tony Kanaan, driving the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, dropped out on lap 160 with engine problems. Dixon now holds a one-point lead over Kanaan, 318-317. De Ferran is third with 315 points.

“Team Target gave me a great car today, and Toyota gave us great fuel mileage” Dixon said. “It feels great to get the points lead heading into this week off. It was a lot of fun out there today. I really enjoyed racing with all of those guys. It was good clean racing, and obviously, we wanted to win the race, but we got a lot of points and had a strong finish.”

The IndyCar Series is back in action on Sunday, August 10 from Gateway International Raceway at 3 p.m. EDT, live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network.

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