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Hornish eyes eventual move to NASCAR UPDATE #7 Sam Hornish is looking to the future, trying to decide the perfect mix of NASCAR and Indy Racing League for his future. Right, Sam Hornish Jr. poses in front of the NASCAR Busch Series car he will attempt to qualify at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami. Photo courtesy of Dodge.

Hornish is attempting to make his NASCAR debut in the Nov. 11 Busch Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. He's also attempting the final Busch race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He'll drive the No. 39 for Penske Racing South with sponsorship from Exxon Mobil in both events.
From there, anything is possible. Hornish plans to compete in some Busch races with the team next season. Penske Racing officials say they could run as many as 20 races in the series in a combined effort involving Hornish and the team's Cup drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.

"A couple of races this year at least gets the wheels turning and gives me an idea of what [I] need to be looking at as far as what needs to happen for the races that we're going to do next season," Hornish said Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "And depending on what happens with next season's races and what happens with the IndyCar program, we'll see what we want to pursue from there on out."  Scenedaily.com 

10/14/06 Reports that IRL champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. will make his stock car debut next month at Phoenix in a NASCAR Busch Series car are premature, a Team Penske spokesman said Friday night.

A story posted Friday on ThatsRacin.com, the racing Web site for The Charlotte Observer newspaper, cited unidentified sources as saying the Penske team will enter Hornish in the Busch races at Phoenix and Homestead in November, as well as running him in selected Busch and ARCA events next season before launching a full-time Nextel Cup career in 2008.

"Roger Penske has said publicly that we are considering a plan that would allow Sam to race in some Busch and ARCA races next year, for sure, along with his IRL schedule," Chris Schwartz, director of marketing and communications for the Penske team, told The Associated Press.

"That's all in motion and it's a goal of ours to get him into a Busch race this year," Schwartz added. "But he hasn't even tested a (stock) car, yet. We hope to get that accomplished soon and we hope to get him in the Phoenix (Busch) race and maybe the Homestead (Busch) race, too. But nothing is done yet." More at AP.org

This season’s debut this season is also expected to be just the tip of the iceberg of Hornish’s involvement in NASCAR.

The 27-year-old native of Defiance, Ohio, will continue to compete in the IndyCar Series in 2007 while at the same time running a mixed schedule of Automobile Racing Club of America, Busch and possibly Nextel Cup races in 2007, sources said.

All of the preparation is in anticipation of Hornish making a full-time debut in the Nextel Cup Series in the 2008 season, sources said. ThatsRacin.com 

09/26/06 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish says there is a possibility he will compete in some NASCAR races in 2007.  While testing his IRL car at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday, Hornish said that running in NASCAR is something that's going to happen eventually. Hornish, who drives for Roger Penske in the IRL, would drive for Penske if he did compete in the NASCAR ranks.

"The first thing you have to do is go through all the preliminaries, doing the tests, getting that first little bit of seat time," he said. "I'm not going to hop right in there and go to a race. People will know it's happening before I just show up one day and here I am [at a race]. It's something we're looking to."

Hornish said that because the IRL season is more condensed the opportunity exists for him to also race in select Cup events.

"Roger needs to find a good use for me to get the most out of his money," he said. "I want to try it out and see if I'm capable of doing that. We have to wait and see when the right time is. I'm not sure yet."  Scenedaily.com

09/13/06 Hornish said he has yet to discuss with Team Penske plans for testing ARCA or Busch Series cars this fall. But he sounded very much committed to open-wheel racing.

"I still want to win some more (Indianapolis) 500s," he said. "That's the big thing. I've still got three more to go to get anywhere near (four-time winner) Rick Mears."

Hornish leads the IRL in all-time wins (18) and is the only multiple champion. He implied that testing or racing stock cars would be done to complement his open-wheel career.

"Right now we're focused on IndyCar stuff. We want to continue doing that throughout the year," he said. "We ... have not had much of an opportunity to sit down and figure out what our plan is. With the IndyCar series being consolidated down into a short amount of months and having the opportunity where I could probably run 10-12 races whether they be ARCA or Busch or whatever in my free time, it gives me the opportunity to have a little bit more practice time." St. Petersburg Times

09/03/06 Sam Hornish Jr. could begin testing a Penske Racing South Dodge sometime this fall in preparation for what could be a limited Busch Series and ARCA schedule in 2007, team president Don Miller said Saturday.

Hornish, winner of this year's Indianapolis 500, drives for Roger Penske in the Indy Racing League and has long been considered a candidate to try his hand in stock cars. Hornish trails teammate Helio Castroneves by one point heading into the IRL season finale at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 10.

"They're just looking at that possibility [for next season]," Miller said. "He'll probably do some testing a little bit later on."  More at Scenedaily.com

08/31/06 Reports that Indianapolis 500 champion Sam Hornish Jr. would be running races in the NASCAR Busch and ARCA Series next year in addition to his Indy Racing League schedule are premature. "There's no confirmation," Team Penske director of marketing and communications Chris Schwartz said. "They're considering a plan that would allow Sam to run some Busch and ARCA events next year. The details of that plan are tentative. Some people are thinking that this is something more than it really is."  Star Telegram

08/28/06 NASCAR and IRL team Owner Roger Penske said that he is “working on a plan that would allow” IRL driver Sam Hornish Jr. “to race in some” NASCAR Busch Series and ARCA events next season. NY Times

05/31/06 DALLAS -- Sam Hornish Jr. has always had a stock answer when asked about moving from open-wheel cars to the more popular and lucrative NASCAR series. He wanted to win the Indianapolis 500 first.  So what about now? 

"I'm never going to tell you that I won't do that," Hornish said Tuesday, two days after winning the second-closest Indianapolis 500 ever. "But there's still a lot that I want to do as far as Indy cars go. I'd love to win another championship."

How about another Indy 500?

"I looked at the (countdown clock at Indianapolis) and there were only 362 more days and 13 more hours last night until I get to go back and race it again," said the 26-year-old Penske driver, who began a whirlwind tour Tuesday morning.

Hornish left Indianapolis, made a two-hour promotional stop in Texas -- where he races June 10 -- and then flew to New York to throw out the first pitch before the Mets' game against Arizona. There are a series of national television appearances today -- "Live with Regis & Kelly" at 9 a.m., CNN's "Paula Zahn Now" and "Anderson Cooper 360," Fox News Channel's "Your World w/Neil Cavuto" and "Daily News Live" on SportsNet New York -- sandwiched around ringing the closing bell at the New York Board of Trade.

"I'm still trying to figure out what's going on . . . and hope nobody wakes me up," he said.

Before returning next week to Texas, where he has won two of the closest races in IRL history, Hornish has the race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., on Sunday and an appearance on IRL owner and late night TV host David Letterman's show Monday.

Hornish figures he will spend only about 24 hours at home in Defiance, Ohio, before being at Texas Motor Speedway to race for the Foyt-Rutherford Trophy.

"I used to say that between us, we had seven Indy 500s," Hornish said, referring to the Texas racing legends for which that trophy is named. "Now, we have eight."  Indy Star

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