(WOMR file photo)
Sam Hornish Jr. drove his final race for Roger Penske!
Then end of that relationship came when he finished 12th in the Nationwide Series season finale Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hornish came up three (3) points shy of going out with a championship. He ended up second to Austin Dillon in the final standings. Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch won the race. Nevertheless, Hornish was near the front for much of the 200 laps, but faltered down the stretch on worn tires. Now the 2013 season is over, and he faces an uncertain future.
“To see Sam race at the level he did with Kyle, right there all night, shows what a great racer he is,” Penske said. “My issue with myself is I started him in the Cup level with no practice. One of the greatest open-wheel racers we had in IndyCar. I think maybe I started his career backwards.” So far, Hornish has no ride set up for 2014. He declined to even talk to Chip Ganassi Racing about replacing Dario Franchitti, the four-time IndyCar champion who abruptly retired earlier this week because of injuries and health concerns. With Hornish committed to stock-car racing, some wonder where he will land next season. Penske, though, doesn’t believe Hornish’s NASCAR career is over.
“I think people want him,” said Penske, who still managed to win the Nationwide owners’ championship. “I think he’s going to have a chance to drive something next year. A couple things out there look quite promising. I would support him always. He needs to have a good ride because he’s a quality guy, a family man. Remember, he won an Indy 500 for us. That’s pretty special.” But Penske told the 34-year-old Hornish he needs to be racing in the Cup series, where he doesn’t have a spot for his longtime driver.
Hornish hasn’t even hinted about his future, only saying he’d rather be a NASCAR test driver than an IndyCar regular. “There’s a lot of uncertainty at this point in time, but I feel as if we’ll be able to make something happen,” Hornish said. “But, like I’ve said in the past, it’s all about trying to position me to move forward in some way. I don’t want to take any more steps backward or be in something that’s not going to give me the opportunity to go out there and be competitive and have an opportunity to at least run in the top 10. It wouldn’t be optimal to run a part-time schedule, but it might help me out. I might be able to go and do testing. I might be able to learn a lot of other things and to be able to forge forward and to be even better in the next go-round.”(Associated Press)
So after winning the Indy 500 for Penske Racing, and all of Hornish’s trials and tribulations in NASCAR, and being devoutly loyal to Penske Racing, he is now without a job for 2014! It seems inconceivable to me that Penske and Hornish could not secure adequate sponsorship dollars for Hornish to have a full time Sprint Cup ride in 2014. But then again, corporate America is a weird and strange environment! I guess that corporate America would rather sponsor a controversial, loud mouthed spoiled brat, names like Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Tony Stewart quickly come to mind, rather than a proven driver that has three open wheel championships, an Indy 500 win, and a relatively stable family man!
I am just saying….
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!