Hornish Looking To End Cup Season On Positive Note At Homestead
November 13, 2012-Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger Driver Thankful For Opportunity To Return To Sprint Cup Series-
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 13, 2012) - Sam Hornish Jr. enters Sunday's Ford 400 hoping to make lasting impressions and leave pleasant memories of his unexpected return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup ranks. Regardless of the outcome, the always affable former open-wheel racing champion says he is forever thankful for the opportunity that the 2012 season presented.
"To have had the chance to climb back in a Sprint Cup car again this season has been a dream come true for me," said Hornish, who will be competing in both Saturday's Nationwide Series race and Sunday's Cup battle at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I certainly want to thank Shell-Pennzoil and all the great sponsors we have at Penske Racing for the opportunity they gave me and the confidence they have shown in me.
"We are hoping to have the kind of performance that will make all of our supporters proud during the final race weekend of the season," said Hornish. "The backing and encouragement we have received from the sponsors, the fans, the media - everyone we have had the pleasure to work with - has been tremendous. We're certainly appreciative of having the chance to drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge.
"When the checkered flag falls at Homestead on Sunday, I hope everyone can look back and say that we did a respectable job. I hope they can say that we put forth a reputable effort as a replacement driver for the second half of the season. Most of all, I hope that they all agree that I've shown a degree of competitiveness that is deserving of a ride in Sprint Cup competition."
Hornish will be making his fourth career Sprint Cup start on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend. In his three prior starts there, he has a 28.0 average start and a 27.3 average finish. His best start to date was a 26th during his last Cup race there in 2010. His best finish, a 21st, came in the 2009 edition of the Ford 400.
"I've had success at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the IndyCar Series with two wins with the flat surface and one with the newer banking," Hornish said. "We're still looking for that level of success running in the NASCAR races. We've enjoyed the trend that we've seen most everywhere else in that the more experience we get there, the more competitive we have gotten. We're confident that we can have our most competitive weekend yet when we get back there this time around."
In his four Nationwide Series starts to date at Homestead entering Saturday's Ford Ecoboost 300, Hornish has a 13.8 average start and a 27.2 average finish. His best start of sixth came in the 2007 event and his best finish, a seventh, came in last year's season finale for the tour.
Hornish never finished out of the top 10 in his seven IndyCar races at Homestead. His incredible record boasted three wins, six top-five finishes and seven top 10s. He completed a mind-blowing 99.9 percent (1,399 of 1,400) of all possible laps.
"We definitely want to end our season on a positive note," said crew chief Todd Gordon, who will continue on as the leader of the No. 22 Penske Racing unit during the 2013 Cup campaign. "Sam has done a tremendous job since coming in to drive for us in July. We're hoping for a very competitive weekend at Homestead. A great run there on Sunday for our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge would be a super way to cap off the 2012 season."
Hornish, Gordon and the Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be utilizing the "PRS-823" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger in this weekend's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This is the chassis that the team raced at Chicagoland Speedway back in September (started 16th and finished 11th). AJ Allmendinger raced it in the June 30 Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway (started 16th and finished ninth). This car made its debut for the team at Kansas Speedway back in April. Allmendinger won the Coors Light Pole Award and led 44 laps before secondary linkage woes put him 10 laps down and relegated him to a 32nd-place finish. The "PRS-820" will serve as the backup. It was last raced in the September race at New Hampshire (started 10th and finished 21st).
Friday's practice from 1:30 p.m. till 3:00 p.m. kicks off this weekend's action at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The entire 43-car starting field will be established in Friday's qualifying session that begins at 6:10 p.m. (live on SPEED-TV) Saturday's schedule features practices sessions from 1:00 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. till 3:50 p.m. (live on SPEED-TV) Sunday's Ford 400 (400 miles, 267 laps) has a scheduled 3:00 p.m. EST starting time on the 1.5-mile speed plant located at the north end of the Florida Keys. ESPN-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.
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