Sam Hornish Jr. (#6 Marlboro Team Penske) won the fastest race ever run at the ¾ mile Richmond International Raceway this evening in the Sun Trust Indy Challenge Presented by XM Satellite Radio. The winner of this year's Indy 500 covered the 250 laps at an average speed of 129.572 mph. Finishing second was Panther Racing's Vitor Meira. His finish is even more impressive considering his team does not have a major sponsor. Andretti Green Racing team mates Dario Franchitti and Marco Andretti came home 3rd and 4th.
Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske) started from the pole position and lead the opening 38 laps before being passed by Hornish as they battled to pass lapped traffic. The first of only 4 caution periods happened on lap 53 when debris was spotted on the back straight. Three laps after the green flag waved again, Rahal Letterman Racing's Jeff Simmons got into the marbles and slid into the turn 2 wall. Raging behind the leader was a furious battle for second between the likes of Castroneves, Marco Andretti (#26 Andretti Green Racing), Dario Francitti (#27 Andretti Green Racing) , Scott Sharp (#8 Delphi Fernandez Racing) and the eventual place holder, Vitor Meira.
The race finished under caution when Helio Castroneves blew a right rear tire with 3 laps to go while struggling in 7th place with an ill-handling car. This robbed Meira of any chance of making a run at Hornish, as he was gaining on the leader at the time.
The new record average speed eclipsed the old record of 114.589 mph set in 2004 by Dan Wheldon. As a point of comparison, Hornish's average speed for the race was nearly as fast as the fastest qualifying lap ever run by a NASCAR Nextel Cup car (129.983 mph, Brian Vickers, 5/14/04)
Hornish (212 laps) and his Marlboro Team Penske team mate Helio Castroneves (38 laps) lead the entire event. It was Team Penske¿s 20 career Indy Racing League victory. The win also moved Hornish into second place in the championship, only 5 points behind his team mate (252 points to 247 points).