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Getting battle-tested

Sam Hornish's bump-and-run move to pass Tony Kanaan on Sunday in the Indy Racing League event at Watkins Glen was fine practice for a possible NASCAR career - rubbin', as they say, is racin' - and so was their postrace pit road standoff.

By BRANT JAMES
Published July 10, 2007


Sam Hornish's bump-and-run move to pass Tony Kanaan on Sunday in the Indy Racing League event at Watkins Glen was fine practice for a possible NASCAR career - rubbin', as they say, is racin' - and so was their postrace pit road standoff. ¶ Hornish is as serene as such an obvious competitor - league-record 19 wins and three championships - can be, but he was clearly sending a message when he approached Kanaan for some choice words then a taunting round of applause after Kanaan sideswiped him returning to the pits after the race. ¶ Hornish is pondering a move from his Penske Racing's open wheel to its Nextel Cup outfit, where he could join Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman next season. Testing his stock car skills in the ARCA and Busch Series, he is expected to wait until his team's September deadline to announce a decision, in part to appease his IRL sponsor, Marlboro. Penske officials feel Hornish's points finish this season could have an impact. He's currently fifth, a hefty 97 out, with just seven races remaining.

What you miss by having a job

9:56 a.m., EST: Jeff Gordon completed his 10th stint co-hosting Live with Regis and Kelly by "dancing" out a segment with Kelly Ripa and Latina pop artist Kat De Luna, with a sort-of driving-the-car move. Indescribable, but he was a good sport and smiled his way through it. YouTube that one soon.

Coke is it, now

International Speedway Corp. announced it has signed a 10-year deal that will make Coca-Cola the official soft drink, sparkling beverage and water at its 10 tracks, including Daytona International Speedway.

The meaning for fans: Hope you don't like Pepsi. And don't expect to attend any more Pepsi 400s. Coca-Cola's exclusivity will preclude its rival from sponsoring the race, meaning upcoming Nextel Cup seasons are likely to include a Coca-Cola 600 (at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.) and 400 at Daytona.

Lowe's Motor Speedway officials say they are not concerned another Coke-sponsored event will diminish theirs.

"With more than two decades under that name and its signature spot on Memorial Day weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 is going to stand strong no matter what any other race is named," said Dan Farrell, LMS senior vice president of corporate sales.

Short pits

BOURDAIS DROPS TO THIRD: St. Petersburg resident and three-time defending Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais fell out of the top spot in the driver standings for the first time since the fifth race of the 2005 season. He was rammed from behind by Robert Doornbos with five laps left at Toronto on Sunday and finished ninth. Doornbos continued after their Turn 3 accident and finished sixth to break his first-place tie with Bourdais, who is third, three points back.

NO PUBLICITY IS BAD: Kanaan made a valid point in that perhaps Sam Hornish Sr. shouldn't have been allowed on pit road to shove him, but maybe the Kanaan/Andretti Green Racing friend, who pushed Hornish's father to the ground, shouldn't have been, either. Either way, the IRL is enjoying another round of broad publicity in proving that it, too, is full of passionate protagonists. A video of the row was the main link on www.indyracing.com on Monday.

Kelly Ripa

Jeff Gordon