This weekend Sam Hornish Jr. is running both at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA and at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA.
COMMENT ON THE COMMUTE BETWEEN POCONO AND IOWA THIS WEEKEND. “I just really enjoy the fact that I’m getting the opportunity to do it. It’s kind of a lot on my plate this weekend. I’ll close my eyes and sleep for a little bit on the airplane to try to catch up. I enjoy Pocono. Obviously I haven’t been here since they repaved it so it’s going to be something that’s going to take a little getting used to. When I look at just the scheduling aspects of it I’m glad I didn’t have to put it all together. I want to go race. I want to have the opportunity to go run quite a bit and feel like we’ve got a great opportunity this weekend to be able to go out there and to have another good weekend and hopefully get a little better finish out of the Cup side.”
WHAT DOES YOUR SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE FOR THIS WEEKEND? “We’re going go tonight and try to get practice in with the Nationwide car. We don’t have any kind of cutoff point I believe. It’s the way everything works out is it’s just a little bit too far to be able to make all the practice sessions on both sides. We think we’ve got a good plan as far as what we’re going to do and try to get as much time as we can in both places. I’ll sleep here, qualify the Cup car tomorrow then we’ll go back over there, qualify do the driver’s meeting, race and come back here. It seems like a lot but last year when Brad (Keselowski) was hurt I actually did the same trip without getting to drive the Cup car so this is an added bonus (smiles).
“We’re probably going to give up 30 minutes of track time at both places with practice but outside of that as long as everything goes to plan we’re not going to miss any driver’s meetings or anything like that and give us an opportunity to qualify and to start where we qualified at. It’s a great opportunity to be able to do that. Not all weekends like this work out to where you can be able to do that to go to two place that I really enjoy racing at and be able to run both of ‘em and feeling like we can start where we qualify at is a good feeling.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU’RE IN THIS CAR FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE? “I don’t know what really means. Some people don’t see very well (smiles). For them to say that is great. I feel like the way things have been going we’ve been steadily progressing. Hopefully before too much longer we’ll be running well enough that they’ll want to keep us in there for the unforeseeable future (laughs). I feel like we’ve got some really good opportunities here and just trying to maintain everything and not get stressed out about it ‘cause that’s not going to help anything; just enjoy it. Something good happened to me at the end of last season. We got the opportunity to go full-time Nationwide racing and you know we’re doing pretty good over there. Now we’ve got the opportunity to go Cup racing too so just trying to take both things and run with it and enjoy it as best I can because it’s a good feeling to be in a little bit of demand.”
CAN YOU TELL THE RELATIONS WITH CREW CHIEF TODD GORDON AND THE TEAM IS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER? “Well I think that they’re getting a better idea of where I’m at. We’re still working on all the communications skills and it takes a bit to build that chemistry but the one really good thing about it in my opinion is now we’re getting to stretch where we kind of know what’s going to happen from week to week where we’re not talking to each other because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future and all the things that are going on. Now that we’ve kind of got a little bit of a plan, actually next week is the first week that we’re going to be able to go testing together so that’ll be good. To go to Watkins Glen after what this weekend is going to be like going back and forth hopefully that ‘ll be a real solid weekend where we can be in one piece and focus on one racetrack for the weekend. Todd and the guys are all great and I’ve worked with most all these guys at one point or another throughout my career there in the stock car side. I filled in for Brad at some practice sessions last year and the race at Iowa so I feel like it’s only going to continue to move forward.”
Travis Geisler (Director of Competition, Penske Racing)
COMMENT ON THE LOGISTICS OF GOING BACK AND FORTH FROM POCONO TO IOWA. “Fortunately it’s something that we have done before. I think it was 2010 that Brad did this whole routine. It’s something that we’ve been through before and I think we’re really fortunate to have a lot of really great people around us to help support and make this doable and to make it very smooth; some of the right troops in the right places. I think it’s going to be pretty smooth, actually is what I’m predicting. Obviously they’ll be a lot of little things along the way but we’re down to figuring out what kind of food we need to have where for him and making sure that we have all the right stuff, just trying to make it as comfortable as possible. Obviously Sam is going to be in a heck of a lot of race cars in lot of different places in a short amount of time so we need to try to do the best we can to be able to make it work for him. I’m excited about it. I think it’s a unique challenge. It’s not one that I’ve been through. You never know what you’re going to get in this business. We found out this all was going to go on it was just another day in paradise. It is what it is.”
ONE OF THE CHALLENGES MUST BE TO KEEP THE SETUP NOTES FOR EACH CAR SEPARATE THIS WEEKEND. “That’s a challenge that Sam has to deal with. I’ll deal with all the logistics of how to get him places to where he doesn’t have to think about any of that but what he has to think about is how you keep your mind straight on where you are. In one sense being in different racetracks is a real challenge because you’ve got to do the travel and everything else but in another sense I think it might be a little easier because it’s such a difference environment that you can mentally have your two categories of where you are and what the cars are doing at those two places. I think it’s a little easier to not get confused. It’s going to be pretty obvious which one it is this weekend. It’s a challenge for the teams and I certainly hope to do everything we can to make it as easy for them as possible. These guys are going to miss a little bit of second practice which is not a good thing. It’s not obviously not what we want but I think with the way the schedule lays out it’s okay. Missing first Nationwide practice is not ideal either but I think the way that Nationwide practices with limited tires and the amount of time that they have out there I think we’ll still be able to get done what we need to get done and it’s fortunate it’s the second race of the season so we’ve already got some pretty reasonable notes on what we’ve been out there this year.”
DO YOU HAVE A BACKUP PLAN IN THE EVENT OF BAD WEATHER? “We’ve got contingency plans for contingency plans for contingency plans (smiles). We’re pretty much down to the next option is me I think (laughs). Obviously you try to think of all those scenarios, of everything that can go wrong, everything that can happen. There are a few that can make it really, really difficult that we’ll have to deal with. You know everybody is trying to be as prepared as possible and to have the options kind of laid out. We’re all hoping for the best and if it goes that way I feel like it can be a pretty reasonable, smooth weekend. Otherwise it’ll be a forest fire and we’ll try to put it out and we’ll figure out a way to put it out. That’s what we do.”
IS THE NATIONWIDE SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP THE PRIORITY HERE FOR SAM? “I think you’re not far off. Obviously the Cup side takes a lot of priority in life just because it’s the premiere series. There’s an obvious priority there. The championship, after last week, things got pulled to within 20-some points. That’s a pretty reasonable margin that anybody really right now has a good shot at that Nationwide championship and I think we’re in as good a shot as anybody so we’ve got to stay focused on that and Sam needs to stay focused on it so that’s certainly a priority of ours.”
Source: From SRT Motorsports media