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Hornish predicts Penske resurgence

Sam Hornish Jr believes that Team Penske's switch to Honda engines will thrust him into contention for a third IRL IndyCar Series title

The 2001/2 Champion was third quickest in this week's Homestead road course. He has only taken three victories since joining the legendary Penske outfit at the start of 2004, but expects to add that tally this season now that he has Honda, rather than Toyota, power behind him.

"We have a tremendous amount of optimism coming into this year now," said Hornish. "We have a lot more power with the Hondas. We really think we have the opportunity to show what we're made of this year.

"I think as we go through the season, if we use our heads, we're going to be up there fighting for a win in a lot of races."

Hornish was particularly pleased with his road course test form as he has less experience in this discipline than most of his rivals. Although he began his career in Formula Ford 2000 and Toyota Atlantic, Hornish switched to the IRL (then an all-oval series) in 2001. He said that co-operation with his team-mate Helio Castroneves, who was fastest on both days at Homestead this week, had accelerated his progress.

"Helio and I have been pushing each other really hard," said Hornish. "He's helped me out on the road courses. I think I've helped him out on the ovals.

"I've been working real hard on getting where I need to be on the road courses. I think if I can get some good finishes on those races, it should make it a lot easier for me.

"Last year we gave up a lot of points when we went to the road courses. It makes it difficult. Every race really counts."

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