April 28, 2007 | 8:54 A.M. EST
Three races into the 2007 IndyCar Series, the list of winners includes some of the top-talent of the sport. Will it increase this weekend at Kansas Speedway?
It will if Sam Hornish Jr. has his way.
Hornish enters this weekend’s Kansas Lottery Indy 300 as the defending winner of the event, having held off Wheldon in a late race battle to claim the checkered flag by 0.0793 seconds in 2006.
Even though the race is earlier this year (previously it was held in July), Hornish remains optimistic of his chances to repeat and become the fourth driver to claim a victory this season.
"Kansas Speedway has always been a great racetrack for me," Hornish said. "Any track you've been successful on is one you look forward to coming back to.
"I've always felt that the track conditions in the heat of July worked to my advantage, so this year, we'll have to figure out a new way to get an edge on the competition so we can finish strong again."
Another past winner, Buddy Rice, is also looking forward to returning to the 1.5-mile speedway in hopes of adding his name to this year’s winners list.
"My (2004) win at Kansas is definitely one of my most memorable wins," said Rice. "Kansas is a handling track. It’s premium on handing with less banking than Homestead earlier this year; I guess the layout makes it that way. Also, there will be more cars there with close to three more than normal. That is going to make it a bit different with a few extra out there."
Other drivers looking for their first victory of 2007 who have performed well at the speedway in the past include Vitor Meira (has three top five finishes in last three visits), Scott Dixon (has a pole and two top-10 finishes in four visits), Danica Patrick (one pole and a top-10 result in two races) and Dario Franchitti (two top fives in three races).
Should any of them visit Gatorade Victory Lane on Sunday, it will be the first time since 2004 that the season has started with four different race winners. The IndyCar Series record occurred in 2000 when each of the nine races was won by a different driver.
The IndyCar Series action at Kansas gets underway Saturday, with practices slated from 10 a.m. – noon (ET) (two groups) and 12:20 – 2:20 p.m. (ET) (two groups). Qualifying will follow at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday’s Kansas Indy Lottery 300 is scheduled to take the green flag shortly after 4:30 p.m. (ET) with live coverage available on the IMS Radio Network, XM Satellite Radio and ESPN 2 (TV).