Top 10 Thursday: Top 10 Indy Car Moments at Texas Motor Speedway

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIJune 9, 2011

Top 10 Thursday: Top 10 Indy Car Moments at Texas Motor Speedway

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    FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 09:  Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara Honda, drives in front of the pack at the start during the Bombardier Learjet 550k, part of the IndyCar Series, on June 9, 2007 at Texas Motor Speedway at Fort Worth
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Texas Motor Speedway has proven to be one of the most exciting tracks on the Izod Indy Car Series circuit each year.  Year in and year out the most exciting side-by-side action has given fans tons of excitement to watch.

    The Izod Indy Car Series version of Daytona and Talladega always has classic finishes and spectacular crashes.

    Texas Motor Speedway hosted two Indy Car races every year from 1998-2004.  A lawsuit in 2004 forced Speedway officials to change the fall race to a Sprint Cup race for 2005 and beyond.

    With both races each year at Texas being so spectacular, I compiled a top 10 list of the most memorable moments at Texas Motor Speedway for the Izod Indy Car Series.

10. June 2004: Tony Kanaan Edges Teammate Dario Franchitti at Finish

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    FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 12: Tony Kanaan driver of the #11 Team 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara celebrates with his teamate Dario Franchitti driver of the #27 ArcaEx Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara after they finished first and second during
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    This 2004 finish was one of the closest in Izod Indy Car Series history.  Tony Kanaan edged teammate Dario Franchitti by .257 seconds.

    Tony went on to win the 2004 Indy Car Series Championship that year.

9. June 2000: Scott Sharp Wins in Close Finish

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    11 May 2001: Scott Sharp drives his Kelley Racing Oldsmobile Dallara during Friday practice in preparation for Saturday's pole day qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Digital Image. Mandatory
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    Scott won what was possibly one of the best all-around races at Texas Motor Speedway. 

    The race had a series high—at the time—32 lead changes, and Scott Sharp won by .059 seconds in the June race.

8. June 2005: Tomas Scheckter Edges Hornish

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    FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 11:  Tomas Scheckter, driver of the #4 Panther Racing Pennzoil Dallara Chevrolet, beats Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara Toyota, to the finish line to win the IRL IndyCar Series Bombardier Learjet 500 on
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    In the June 2005 Bombardier Learjet 550k Tomas Scheckter grabbed his first career win at Texas Motor Speedway.  Scheckter had a bad reputation of being impatient and immature up until this race.

    Many people said this was the most mature drive of Tomas' career.  Tomas beat Sam Hornish Jr. by .0534 seconds.

7. June 2007: Sam Hornish Jr. Becomes First Three-Time Winner at Texas

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    FORT WORTH, TX - JUNE 09:  Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara Honda, leads the pack during the Bombardier Learjet 550k, part of the IndyCar Series, on June 9, 2007 at Texas Motor Speedway at Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Donald
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The June 2007 Texas race was action packed.  Sam Hornish Jr. started second and ended up in victory lane en route to his record third win at Texas Motor Speedway.

    Hornish Jr. beat Tony Kanaan by just .0786 seconds.  That was the seventh-closest finish in Indy Car history at that point.

    Oh and by the way Danica Patrick ended finished the race in third, a career-best for her at the time.

6. June 2003: Al Jr. Wins His Final Race of Long Career

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    FT. WORTH, TX - JUNE 7:  Al Unser Jr. celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win  the IRL (Indy Racing League) IndyCar Series Bombardier 500 on June 7, 2003 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images).
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Al Unser Jr. got his 34th and final win of his storied career at Texas in June, 2003.

    Al made a dramatic last-lap pass on the high lane to claim his first victory at Texas Motor Speedway.

    Al beat Tony Kanaan to the finish by .081 seconds.

5. October 2001: Hornish Wins in Season Finale

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    18 Mar 2001:  Sam Hornish Jr. speeds down the track during the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 at the Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona.Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge  /Allsport
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    I know this isn't the "Summer Race," but this was a great moment at Texas Motor Speedway.

    The race was originally scheduled for it's normal date in September, but the 9/11 attacks forced the postponement of the race until October.

    The final race of the season came down to the wire.

    Sam Hornish Jr. beat Scott Sharp for his first career win at Texas Motor Speedway, and the win clinched the first Indy Car Series Championship for Hornish Jr. as well.

    Hornish Jr. beat Sharp by .188 seconds in the yellow No. 4 Pennzoil special.  What was also special was the American flag on the side of Hornish's car.

4. September 2002: Hornish Beats Helio for Closest Finish in Texas History

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    16 Mar 2002. Panther Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. prepares to qualify for the Bombardier ATV Copper World Indy 200, round 2 of the Indy Racing League Championship, at the Phoenix International Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit:
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    The race in the finale of the 2002 Indy Car Series Championship was one that will go down in history.

    Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves came into Texas first and second respectively in the Championship standings.  Whoever finished ahead of the other would win the Championship for the 2002 season.

    Hornish Jr. was the defending race and series champion. 

    Castroneves was the two-time defending Indianapolis 500 champion in 2001 and 2002.

    The race came down to the last lap and Hornish Jr. beat Castroneves by .0096 seconds.  That margin of victory was and remains the closest finish in Texas Motor Speedway history.  It also ranks as the third-closest in Indy Car Series history.

    By taking the race at Texas, Hornish Jr. took the Series Championship by a slim margin of 20 points.

3. Davey Hamilton's Wreck

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    This is by far one of the worst wrecks ever in the Izod Indy Car Series.

    Hamilton luckily ended up surviving this wreck, but it took 21 surgeries to repair his feet and legs before he could walk again.

    Jeret Schroeder blew his engine in turn two and hit Davey Hamilton.  That contact forced Hamilton head-on into the outside wall and spinning back across the track to hit the inside wall.

    That accident forced Hamilton into an early retirement, but in 2007 he returned to race in the Indianapolis 500.

    Hamilton will return to race at Texas this year for the first time since this scary accident.

2. September 2003: Kenny Brack's Wreck

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    Two years after Davey Hamilton's wreck, 1999 Indianapolis 500 Champion Kenny Brack had a horrendous wreck himself.

    This time it wasn't the June race, but the fall race.

    Brack made contact with the Target car of Tomas Scheckter on the backstretch in the 2003 season finale and it sent his Rahal/Letterman car airborne into the catch fencing.

    Brack was very lucky to survive this accident.  He suffered a record for g-forces during the wreck at 240.

    According to his Wikipedia page, he suffered multiple fractures in breaking his sternum, femur, shattering his vertebrae in his spine, and breaking both ankles.

    It took 18 months before Brack was able to walk again.

1. June 1997- A.J. Backhands Arie Luyendyk

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    It's not a list unless Big Tex A.J. is number one.

    This classic moment happened in Victory Lane at the inaugural Texas Indy Car race in June of 1997.

    Billy Boat who drove for A.J. Foyt won the race, but Arie Luyendyk was sure there was an error in scoring, and that he actually won.

    Arie stormed victory lane and tried to cause havoc during the celebration.  A.J. took offense to that and backhanded Arie across the head.

    In fact, Arie ended up being right. 

    One of the electronic scoring wires malfunctioned, and it caused scoring errors.

    The next morning Arie was awarded the victory in the race.

    The funny thing about all of that is that A.J. Foyt refused to return the winner's trophy, and to this day still has it.