Sam Hornish Jr. has undoubtedly had an impressive career in the Indy Racing League. He has won three titles as well as the Indianapolis 500. However, now in a stock car, success has not come as quickly as he had hoped.
The 30-year old Penske Racing driver has two top-5 finishes and seven top-10’s in 84 total races. Hornish has led just a total of six laps, failed to finish a race 13 times, and failed to qualify eight times. In the IRL, he made a name for himself with a total of 19 wins and 27 podium finished in 116 races. He is now in 30th place in the points standings.
Respect from others came easy in the IRL with the success he had. But now, respect in the stock car racing world is not something that he has gained since arriving on the scene.
“When you see Sam Hornish walk through the garage area and when you hear the name, that’s an Indy 500 winner,” Kyle Petty said. “There’s a lot of respect there from all forms of motorsports.
“But you put that guy in a stock car and you’ve got to go there and kick his butt, you’ve got no respect. It’s what you did for me lately and what you did last week. He’s got tons of respect from the other drivers for what he did in Indy cars. On the racetrack, no.”
The Sprint Cup series is where Hornish wants to be though. He made the full time jump to the Sprint Cup series in 2008 and it is a challenge that Hornish needed in his life. All the attention that he is not getting is something he does not need or want according to Hornish.
“I don’t need the attention,” Hornish said. “I love the fans that I do have over here. I drive a race car and live in the limelight because that’s part of being a racecar driver, but I don’t need it. I like when I can go home and be normal Sam.
“Sometimes it’s more fun when people don’t know me. You get to see what people might say or how they react. I just enjoy being normal Sam.”
Last season, he had seven top-10 finishes with two of them at both Pocono and Richmond. In the IRL, Hornish knew he had the right equipment and could make risky adjustments during races that led to his success. He has had good, fast cars in a lot of races in Sprint Cup racing but at times gets impatient and makes too many mistakes, one’s that he knows he will eliminate with experience.
“The toughest part is I’m not somebody who likes to collect a paycheck, go out there and be safe about it,” Hornish said. “Sometimes I need to pull the reins back a little more.”
On Sunday, he will have a chance to begin earning respect whether he wants it or not. NASCAR sportsbooks do not feel he has progressed enough however and have his odds listed at 125/1 to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.