Indianapolis: Hornish Jr - Friday media visit

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger) YOURE THOUGHTS ON RETURING TO INDIANAPOLIS WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR RACING CAREER? "I'm really looking forward getting back out there racing and having the opportunity to run ...

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger)

YOURE THOUGHTS ON RETURING TO INDIANAPOLIS WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR RACING CAREER? "I'm really looking forward getting back out there racing and having the opportunity to run well here. Last year's race was a lot of fun for me just because I was able to come back (to Indy), to the speedway and get to visit a lot of old friends that I don't get to see too much. I got to get that sickness out of me that I had when I ran Indy would be in my stomach for three weeks. Being here for only three days doesn't allow you to get all emotional, I always enjoy that."

YOU TALKED ABOUT HAVING A DREAM WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNG BOY THAT SOMEDAY YOU WOULD DRIVER FOR ROGER PENSKE? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT? "I remember not too long after I started racing go-karts...I was probably 12-years-old...a dream one night that Roger (Penske) and Rick Mears came while I was at work and wanted me to come drive for them. I was like, 'Yeah, right, like that's ever going to happen.' Then about 10 years later I was sitting there having a meeting with Roger talking about going racing for him. So it's pretty neat how things change sometime."

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE COMING BACK TO INDY AS A FORMER INDYCAR CHAMPION AS COMPARED TO A SECOND-YEAR CUP DRIVER? "I definitely look at it as there is a lot for me to learn. That's why I wanted to do this. I had the opportunity to come over and run with a team that I knew would support me even if things didn't go as well as we wanted them to the first year. I knew that it was going to be difficult, but that's why I wanted to do it. It so much different than driving an IndyCar. Driving a stock car is as much about what you're doing with your feet as it is with your hands. It's about not upsetting the car too much with the brake or too much throttle. I feel like we've come a long way. We've actually run a lot better than where we are in points and some of the results have shown. We just have had a lot of bad luck. We're trying to figure out if we need to pick up four-leaf clovers or horseshoes. It seem like if we could be at the wrong place at the wrong time, we've been there this year. Hopefully, we can get that out of our system."

DOES IT FEEL DIFFERENT TO COME BACK HERE AS A CUP DRIVER VERSUS AN INDYCAR DRIVER? "It feels pretty similar because they try and do some of the same things...whether it's coming out of the green room or having the photo on the yard of bricks. Obviously, for me, it was a little bit different because I had to walk to Turn 4 instead of Turn 1 to get to my car because most of my years (in IRL) I started in the top 15 in IndyCar. This to me is just as big. It's still like being a kid again and walking out there and seeing all these things going on. It's always surprising in an IndyCar because you're here for three weeks and you never got to see it full. We're only here three days and don't have all that time and everything is sped up a bit."

KNOWING THAT ROGER HASN'T WON HERE AT INDY IN A STOCK CAR, HOW MUCH DOES THAT PLAY IN YOUR MOTIVATION? "It does a little. Obviously, I want to go out there and win. I want Roger to be able to get a win at the Brickyard. When I came over here last year, a lot of people wanted to know why I wanted to do that. Roger hadn't won a (NASCAR) championship. Hadn't won a Daytona 500. Hadn't won at the Brickyard and I wanted to try and help him do that. To be a part in the team and help in any way is enough for me. I feel like coming out here and giving him something that he's never had. Roger has so many things. It would be great."

RAIN MAY BE MOVING INTO THE AREA TOMORROW, IS THERE ANY CONCERN ABOUT RACING ON A GREEN RACE TRACK ON SUNDAY? "I think that what we've seen with the tires, Goodyear has spent a lot of money and a lot of time to be able to get us what we need to go out there and race. One of things that I have seen, I came down here for one of the last tire tests. I didn't get to run, but I got to watch Kurt (Busch) run and it had rained really hard the night before and there was still a lot of rubber on the track. Basically what they've (Goodyear) done is give us a tire that the rubber gets down in the groove. Last year, the problem was when the rubber came off the tire; it turned to powder and never stuck to anything. It was like racing on a green race track the whole weekend. I think that they have a better tire as far as putting rubber down. I think that if it does rain, it's not going to be near the problem that it was last year.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A 'NASCAR' DRIVER YET? "I'm waiting for the 'when are you going back to IndyCar' questions to end. I know that the better we do over here, the less of those questions that I get. I came to do this (race NASCAR) to finish out my career...being a stock car far as a full-time career. For some people, it's hard to believe that, but the better that we do, the less people ask me those questions. I was able to achieve more than I ever thought or dreamed in IndyCar and I left there with a feeling like I never have to go back. I know that I'm not ready to retire yet. But, if I can't get a job driving in the top three levels over here, I'll have to look at my options. This is where I plan on being."

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A SUCCESSFUL NASCAR DRIVER AS COMPARED TO SOME OTHER FORMS OF RACING THAT YOU'VE DONE? "There's a lot about what you do with your feet versus what you do with your hands. I feel like this transition would have been a lot easier for me if I never drove anything front engine until I got over here (to NASCAR). Only a street car was something that I drove that was front engine. If I would have grown up running late models or sprint cars, I feel like the transition would have been a lot easier, but everything that I did was in preparation to be an IndyCar driver."

WOULD YOU GIVE ANY ADVICE TO DANICA PATRICK ABOUT COMING OVER TO NASCAR? "Run a couple stock car races, whether it's Nationwide or Truck...Cup if you want. See if you like it. It doesn't matter what the money is like if you don't like what you're doing, you're not going to enjoy yourself."

YOU LEFT INDYCAR FEELING SATISFIED DIDN'T YOU? "I would have liked to won a few more Indy 500s, but who wouldn't. Yeah, I did more than I ever dreamed of accomplishing over there. That for me really makes me feel like that when I left, there no, 'Oh, should I kept doing that because I could have done this or this.' I knew that I was never going to win the (Indianapolis) 500 five times. I wasn't going to break that many more records over there and it was just time for a change."

DO YOU THINK DANICA PATRICK WILL COME OVER TO NASCAR? "I have a hard time seeing that happening."

WHY? "If you do something just for the money, you're not going to be happy. I know that she feels like she already has a very busy schedule. You're automatically doubling the amount of races. I don't care what anybody says about testing rules or whatever. You can test more over here than you can in IndyCar because you can get engines, tires, you can go run at Little Rock or Rockingham or road courses. There's just a lot more work."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE GETTING BETTER AS A CUP DRIVER? "Yes. I think as a whole, Penske Racing is getting better. The team continues to grow and as we do, I feel like we have better and better chances to win. Juan (Pablo Montoya) ran exceptionally well here in his rookie debut in a stock car. I feel like I have a great opportunity to go out there and run well this weekend. I'm the only threat that he has to win both the Brickyard and the Indy 500."

HOW SPECIAL WOULD IT BE TO BE THE FIRST TO WIN BOTH? "That's part of the reason that I decided to come over here and do this. My main goal was to come over and run the Daytona 500. I wanted to run the Brickyard 400. Now that I've run three of the biggest sporting events in the world as far as racing is concerned, I want to try and take care of winning three of them."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rick Mears
Teams Team Penske