Top 25 IndyCar drivers of all-time

Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Will Power, IndyCar (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Will Power, IndyCar (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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Sam Hornish Jr., IndyCar
Sam Hornish Jr., IndyCar (Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images) /

Top IndyCar drivers of all-time: #23 – Sam Hornish Jr.

Sam Hornish Jr. is one driver who many believe should have stuck around in IndyCar longer instead of leaving for NASCAR when he did so as a 28-year-old.

Hornish competed in IndyCar for just eight seasons and won at least one race in each of his final seven for a total of 19, and he won three championships. He won the 2001 and 2002 titles in what were his first two seasons in competitive equipment with Panther Racing.

From 2001 to 2007, he never finished outside of the top seven in the championship standings, and he had just one finish outside of the top five.

But after following his 2006 championship up with a fifth place finish in 2007, he would never return to open-wheel racing, instead opting for stock cars, a move that resulted in five Xfinity Series wins but no Cup Series wins.

Additionally, who can forget his 2006 Indy 500 victory? Hornish became the first driver to win the race after not leading the penultimate lap, and he remains one of only two drivers to do so, the other being Dan Wheldon in 2011.

He did so by somehow managing to reel in 19-year-old rookie Marco Andretti over the course of the 200th and final 2.5-mile circuit, gaining rapidly in the closing two corners.

If it were up the announcers — and pretty much everybody else watching the ending unfold that day — Marco would have been declared the winner by the white flag, as Hornish lost all kinds of momentum on lap 199 that appeared to seal the deal.

Not so.