Hornish turns laps in ARCA car at MIS
IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. can’t get enough racing these days.
Fresh off a fourth-place finish in last Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, the three-time IndyCar Series champion turned a few laps Tuesday in a stock car at Michigan International Speedway. Hornish was preparing for a possible run in the June 15 ARCA RE/MAX Series race at the track.
“I’d love to run the ARCA race in June,” Hornish said. “I think that getting here for this test is a fairly good indication that we will be able to run the ARCA RE/MAX Series race.”
The test with 14 other ARCA drivers marked a new experience for the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner. Though this was his first time in a stock car at MIS, Hornish has five IndyCar Series starts at the track.
He’s no stranger to stock cars on a two-mile oval. Hornish has some seat time in the NASCAR Busch Series race at California Speedway, the sister track to MIS. Both tracks are similarly configured, but each is unique and some uncertainty, he said, always looms.
“This track is a little bit bumpier and older,” Hornish said of MIS. “There are a lot more grooves than out in California, but hopefully we’ll have a good run and we’ll see what happens.”
A Midwest native, Michigan International Speedway is a favorite stop for Hornish. And with three event weekends at MIS that could potentially include Hornish, that’s a good thing. Besides next month’s ARCA RE/MAX Series race and the Aug. 5 IndyCar Series race at MIS, race fans could also see Hornish competing in the NASCAR Busch Series CARFAX 250 on Aug. 18.
Hornish has a limited stock car schedule for 2007 under his legendary open-wheel team owner Roger Penske that includes a few Busch Series events. He has five Busch Series starts so far this season, and competing in an ARCA race may give Hornish some extra practice and a competitive edge in that series.
Hornish is not the first open-wheel standout to use the ARCA RE/MAX Series as part of a stepping-stone into stock-car auto racing. Most recently, former Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya made two career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts in 2006 before launching a full-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series campaign. Champ Car World Series Champion Paul Tracy used an ARCA RE/MAX Series open test at Daytona International Speedway in December 2005 to prepare for his NASCAR Busch Series debut. Champ Car/Formula 1 veteran Christian Fittipaldi raced in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2003.
Finally, open-wheel driver Danny Sullivan made his superspeedway debut in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 1981. He later went on to win the Indianapolis 500 in 1985.
“MIS is the closest superspeedway of any kind that I can race on each year, and it would be neat to run here three times in one year,” Hornish added.
And because of the track’s idyllic location in the Irish Hills to his home in Napoleon, Ohio, there was no need to use the helipad.
“I drove here today. From home, it’s maybe an hour and fifteen minutes,” Hornish said. “It’s always fun to drive wherever you go and I like not having to go to the airport.”
Tickets for all MIS races, including the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Citizens Bank 400 on June 17 and the 3M Performance 400 on August 19, are on sale by calling the MIS Ticket Hotline at (800) 354-1010 or by visiting www.MISpeedway.com.