Hornish sad to see IRL leave Fontana

first_img Mesa Marin Raceway: Rip Michels can remember the first time he raced at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. After Saugus Speedway closed in 1995, he, like many other drivers from the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas, went to Mesa Marin to continue their racing careers. “The first time I raced there, it was like Daytona or Talladega,” said Michels, a driver in the NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series, from Mission Hills. “It was a little intimidating.” Tonight will mark the last race at Mesa Marin. The NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series, and Grand National Division, West Series, will take the track for the final October Classic. Michels joins Andrew Phipps of Simi Valley, Frank Maronski Jr. of Lancaster, Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills, M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park, Keith Spangler of Woodland Hills, Bob Lyon of Agua Dulce and Greg Pursley of Canyon Country as drivers entered in the Southwest Series race. Joanides is also entered in the West Series race. Tim Haddock, (818) 713-3715 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! So when the California Speedway race was not on the 2006 schedule, Hornish said he was a little upset. “When you have a track where you get that kind of results at, you tend to want to get back there as often as you can,” said Hornish during a media luncheon in downtown Los Angeles on Friday. “I think it was a great race track for us. I’m a little upset that we’re not coming back.” Sam Hornish Jr. has a pretty impressive record at California Speedway in Fontana, site of Sunday’s Indy Racing League season finale. Hornish, driver for the Toyota-powered Team Penske, has won two races in three tries at California Speedway, and set the race record with the only IRL event ever completed with an average speed of more than 200 mph. center_img However, the new IRL schedule does present some unique opportunities, Hornish said. By starting in March and ending in September, Hornish said he will be able to entertain racing perhaps in the International Race of Champions or do some sports car and endurance racing, such as the 24 Hours of Daytona. “It gives you a lot more freedom to go do that,” Hornish said. “Then the next thing is if you have a team that allows you to go do that.” With Roger Penske, who owns the two-car Indy Car team for Hornish, and Helio Castroneves, branching out into other racing series should not be a problem. Penske also owns the two-car NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team, Penske Racing South, and could easily put together a sports car team for Hornish. But racing in NASCAR is not something Hornish, a two-time IRL series champion, said he desires. Rather, he would like to do some more road racing events, like the 24 Hours of Daytona, to improve his skills in similar IRL events. “If I’m going to come back and win Indy Car championships again, I need to work on some of my road racing stuff,” Hornish said. “I want to win all three. If that’s going to make me better to go and get that in sports cars, then that’s what I need to do.” last_img

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