By admin | January 25, 2011
By Richard Allen
Do you think Sam Hornish, Jr. could have ever foreseen the strange twists and turns his career as a race car driver would take in such a relatively short period of time?
Consider that in 2006 this driver from Defiance, Ohio was on top of the racing world after he won the Indianapolis 500 by executing a last lap pass on Marco Andretti. As an open wheel driver he had reached the absolute pinnacle of his sport. He went on to win his third IndyCar championship in 2006.
Hornish then parlayed that IndyCar success into a fulltime ride in the highly lucrative NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Penske Racing in 2008. It was at that point the driver came to realize that once on top there is only one way to go from there.
In three full seasons on the Sprint Cup Series, Hornish has managed only two top-5 and eight top-10 finishes. In that time span he has led only 55 laps. His highest finish in the final standings has been a lowly 28th best.
Crashes and finishes outside the top-20 have become all to commonplace for this driver.
“I want to prove something to everybody, but the only person that needs to be happy at the end of the day is me because that’s the only way you can live with yourself,” Hornish said during the Sprint Media Tour‘s stop at the Penske Racing shop. “I know there were days that I could have won Cup races if the right things happened but we never got to the point where we could do it consistently enough to be able to be there all the time.
“There’s been days where I’ve done everything right and we went out and finished well and days where I screwed up quite a bit.”
Due to lack of sponsorship and that above mentioned poor performance, Hornish has been demoted at Penske Racing. In 2011, he has less than half a season of Nationwide Series racing on his calendar.
Facing a season in which he does not even have a fulltime ride must have seemed like an unfathomable scenario five years ago when Sam Hornish was relishing in the glow of having just won the biggest race of his life. Then, he was living the dream. Now, he must feel as though he is living the nightmare.
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