Hornish Jr. on Montreal: Things have gone pretty good so far

Sam Hornish Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr.

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger)

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DRIVNG AT MONTREAL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A STOCK CAR? “Things have gone pretty good so far. We got a rookie set of tires because it was my first time here in a stock car. I used those for all of two laps because I got a big flat spot. It was a good thing we got the opportunity to use that because the way most of the corners are set up here you’re transitioning into another corner and you have the front of the race car tilted from one direction or the other. So you really have to be careful how you bring the frontend down. If you don’t have it flat you tend to carry the wheel and it’s really easy to flat spot a tire. I’m really happy how things went after that first lap and trying to move forward with it. I’m really happy with our car and the changes we made with it. The run that we made over the last eight races is really what we thought that we were going to be able to do at the beginning of the year. When we started the year out, we were a bit further behind than what we needed to be. Brad and I were both scratching our heads all the way through Charlotte. What were we going to do to get better? We still feel like there is a little bit to gain yet. We’re definitely a lot closer. That being said, I think that we came from 75-plus points out to cut that in half, two-thirds. I think that we were closer to 90-some points out for the owner points, now we’re down to 33. I’m just marching along. Our big strength this year is that we haven’t won races but we’ve been consistent. We’re consistently running eight to 10th in the beginning and now sixth to 10th. Out of the last four (races), I don’t think that we’ve been worse than third. We’re going to keep motoring along.”

HOW MUCH IS YOUR LACK OF FAMILIARITY WITH THE TRACK HERE IN MONTREAL NOT ALLOWING YOU TO RACE AS HARD AS YOU NEED? “Hopefully it won’t hold me back too much or I’ll be in the grass tomorrow. I felt pretty good about where we are. It took most of the first session for me to really get comfortable. I’m still trying to narrow in to my points. Instead of having a 25-foot area that I’m working in, I’m down to 10 feet. From 10 feet I have to get it down to two feet. I feel like there’s a little bit of tweaking; we’re 90 percent of the way there. We just need to keep tweaking.”

YOU SEEM TO BE ON QUITE A ROLL SINCE AJ (A.J. Allmendinger) HAS HAD HIS PROBLEMS. WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT SUCCESS TO? “I don’t know. I feel like we were heading in this direction with the Nationwide Series cars. We just haven’t had the opportunity to get everything around and really look at it, but not too much has really changed. Obviously when you get more track time in a race car, things come a little bit easier for you especially when you get the weekend’s when you can run both series at the same track. I just feel like we were making ourselves better. A little bit of track time together with me and Chad (Walter) was the next step for where we needed to be. I feel like it doesn’t hurt to have the opportunity to run both series. The Shell/Pennzoil car on the Cup side, I feel like it gives me on-track time and helps over here (Nationwide Series) and my track time here helps over on the Cup side. I was also someone that wanted to race more in the Nationwide races when I was in the Cup Series. At that time, it was hard to get everything because of the sponsorship side of things.”

DO YOU HAVE THE SAME SETUP AS BRAD IN THE CUP SERIES? DIFFERENT? “Actually, last year being I ran a partial schedule, I had the opportunity to run some of the test days for Brad and non-companion events. I got to set the car up for him. He finished third at one race; they had a bad pit stop. He was running away with the race at Chicago and they had an engine problem. It gave me a vote of confidence that I knew the right things to look for in the car, I just needed the right people around me to give it to me. I think it was one of those things where Brad and I run similar setups. I wouldn’t say that they’re always identical. We like certain things out of the car. It’s great to have that from a teammate standpoint because we can start at the same place at the beginning of the weekend, basically cover twice as many different changes and make our team better. I think that once we got everybody on board with what those opportunities were and how we could make things better, it’s helped our whole program.”

IS YOUR SETUP THE SAME AS JACQUES (VILLENEUVE) THIS WEEKEND OR CLOSER TO WHAT ALEX TAGLIANI AND JACQUES HAD LAST YEAR HERE? ARE THEY CLOSE? “They were really close together. Both of what they ran last year was really close, just a little bit different in terms of rear springs. I’m kind of in the middle of where those two things were. We changed a little bit of front suspension throughout practice. We are different than where Jacques is at right now. We found a couple of things that helped me brake into the corner without having the opportunities for front wheel lock up.”

ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT SUNDAY’S CUP RACE AT ALL WHILE YOU’RE HERE? “I think about it. I was looking to see where Parker (Kligerman) ran today in practice. I guess he was eighth and Brad (Keselowski) was ninth as far as the practice speeds are with the Cup cars. I’m looking forward to running on Sunday, but our main focus is this (Nationwide Series). We feel like we have a great opportunity to run for the championship. We have to keep what our priorities are in line. I think that getting to run the Cup car is like a bonus, good-boy behavior points. I get to do something fun on Sunday’s. Yeah, it matters. I want to do well. I’m not running for the championship (in Sprint Cup) so we can take a different fuel strategy or something like tires at a different time. We’re able to do some of those things. As we continue to play this out and hopefully get some more races where we give ourselves the opportunity to get some more top fives.”

HOW BIG WOULD A WIN BE IN EITHER THIS SERIES OR IN CUP? “A win would be huge in either place. For whatever reason, I feel like it will be harder to win over here (Nationwide Series) than in the Cup Series for me at this time. Like last week, Carl was really good in one portion but I felt overall that we might be overall better. Brad was good too. I felt like if I could have gotten ahead of them, they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. I was forced to race at like 70 percent. I’d get up there and get runs on them but knowing that the main guys that I’m battling for the championship are 28th, 12th and eighth, I have to be smart and get as many points as I can. You can easily end up finishing behind half those guys and not gain anything. I feel like a lot of times when I’m racing now in the Nationwide Series, I’m a little bit more points racing than I’d like to be. That’s what has gotten us to the position where we are and that’s what we have to keep doing – keep the car going forward all day long and if we come home fifth and that’s what the car had, that’s what we get. We’re not at the point yet where we can start trying to take a fifth-place car and make it second because we need the points. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to get there. We just need to be smart at how we do it.”

Source: SRT Motorsports

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About this article
Drivers A.J. Allmendinger , Sam Hornish Jr.
Article type Interview
Tags dodge, hornish, michigan, montreal, nascar-cup, penske, srt