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Published: Saturday, 4/19/2008

Hornish passes on Indy

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MEXICO CITY - Sam Hornish Jr. says he's not driving in the Indianapolis 500.

Hornish's plans were the subject of much speculation after owner Roger Penske entered a No. 77 car in the Indy 500 - and didn't say who would be driving it. Hornish, a former Indy 500 winner, is in his first NASCAR season after leaving the Indy Racing League.

Yesterday, he said it's not feasible to drive in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600. Both races are May 25.

"I'd love to do both of them in one day, but if it has to be one or the other, I'm a stock car driver," Hornish said.

Hornish was part of the mass exodus of open-wheel stars fleeing to NASCAR. He's currently 33rd in the Sprint Cup point standings.

"I want to be successful over here, and I know that skipping races isn't going to help," Hornish said when explaining his commitment to the Coca-Cola 600.

Hornish is in Mexico City this week preparing for tomorrow's Nationwide Series event, the Corona Mexico 200.

Hornish said he understood why he was considered a possibility for the Indy 500 after the entry list was released.

"A lot of things led people to believe that," Hornish said. "Probably the biggest thing was that they entered a No. 77 car. They usually enter a No. 66 car as their TBA and I think somebody took that this year."

RAINY DAY PLAN?: Carl Edwards has one idea of how to spice up this weekend's race in Mexico City.

"The No. 1 thing I'm interested to see is if it rains, what that's going to be like," Edwards said. "That would be a blast. I'm sure it would be a nightmare for all the crew chiefs, but it would be fun for us I think."

Rain tires are a possibility for Nationwide races on road courses, and steady rain did fall in Mexico City on Thursday night. Yesterday, however, the sun was out.

"Something exciting will happen if it rains," Edwards said. "I'd just like to be a part of it."

Another factor in Mexico City races is the 7,400-foot altitude. That takes away some downforce, causing cars to lose grip and horsepower.

"For us it's good, because we've raced here," said Michel Jourdain of Mexico City. "I've lived here all my life and we raced here so many times. Growing up, actually, going to sea level, it was weird. The cars had a lot of power."

David Reutimann, however, downplayed the thin air.

"You don't really notice it much. The motor tuners all have that kind of factored in and have everything going to where it needs to be," said Reutimann, who is fifth in the Nationwide point standings.

"The only time you notice is when you're running up and down stairs."

CROWD FACTOR: Two years ago in Mexico City, Kyle Busch collided with Jourdain, knocking the local favorite out of the race. Many in the stands hooted and whistled, directing catcalls and jeers at Busch.

Busch doesn't sound concerned about the possibility of fans holding a grudge.

"I don't necessarily think I'm the crowd favorite any place. This one doesn't much matter either," he said.

In fact, Busch seemed to welcome any crowd reaction, be it positive or negative.

"It don't matter to me," he said. "Noise is good."

HOMETOWN HOPE: Memo Rojas of Mexico City will start from the pole in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series event today.

Rojas' time was 1:19.508 seconds. It was his first pole in Rolex Series competition. He co-drives the car with Scott Pruett.

In the GT class, Pierre Kaffer of Germany took the pole with a lap of 1:26.621.



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