Hornish Replaces De Ferran
August 25, 2003 | 12:54 P.M. EST
Two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. has signed a multi-year deal to drive for the team beginning in 2004.
"My experience with Marlboro Team Penske is, without question, the pinnacle of my career. I felt it was important to stop while I was at my best," said de Ferran.
"I wanted to wait until the end of the season to announce to everyone my decision to stop driving, however, I realize it is in the team's best interest for me to do so at this time so they have the opportunity to hire the best possible driver. I feel they have done so with Sam."
"Gil's commitment to the team produced two National Championships, eight victories including our 100th win, and our thirteenth Indianapolis 500-mile race victory," said Roger Penske. "He has certainly made a place in Penske Racing history as one of our great drivers."
Hornish became the winningest driver in IRL history by scoring his ninth career win at Kentucky Speedway on Sunday, August 17th. He won the last two series championships on the strength of 22 top five finishes and over 1,400 laps led.
"Everyone within our organization appreciates what we have accomplished with Gil over the years. He has been a team player in all respects. We certainly wish him well in his future endeavors," said Tim Cindric, President, Penske Racing, Inc.
Hornish, the youngest champion in IndyCar Series history, captured the 2001 and 2002 championships and became the winningest driver in IRL history by scoring his ninth career win at Kentucky on Sunday, August 17th.
He won the last two series championships on the strength of 22 top-five finishes over 1,400 laps led and currently holds the IRL IndyCar Series record with 1,767 total laps led.
"Sam Hornish Jr. will be an excellent addition to Marlboro Team Penske. Certainly, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to hire someone with Sam's ability. He and Helio will give us a great combination next season," said Cindric.
"I am thrilled to be joining Marlboro Team Penske," said Hornish. "The opportunity to drive for the most successful open-wheel team in history and to follow in the footsteps of the organization's remarkable driver lineage, including Gil, is an honor."
"We are very pleased that Sam has chosen to become a part of Marlboro Team Penske," said Penske. "Sam is a great fit for the Team both on and off the track and we are confident we will achieve great success together."
Penske Racing is the most successful Indy car racing team in history with 118 race wins, highlighted by a record 13 Indianapolis 500 victories, 11 National Championships and 142 pole positions.