Penske sticking with Hornish:
#06-Sam Hornish Jr. has failed in his first three attempts to qualify for a Nextel Cup event, but Penske Racing will continue to place Hornish on the entry list for upcoming Cup races. "We're going to stay on our plan to try to qualify Sam in as many races as we can for the rest of the season," said Walt Czarnecki, vice chairman of Penske Racing.
"Nothing has changed. We'll go again at Charlotte next week." Czarnecki, who also is the listed owner of the #06 Dodge that Hornish is driving, said they already have a primary sponsor [rumored to be Mobil 1] lined up for the third team car next season.
Would they still consider Hornish moving full time to Cup in 2008 if he doesn't qualify for any races this year? "I think that's a possibility," Czarnecki said. "The disappointment he has, and we all have, is he was 20th quick at New Hampshire. We told him not to drive it too hard and he missed the show by a fraction.
At Dover, he had one hour of track time, then misses the show by four one-hundredths of a second. Circumstances haven't worked in his favor." NASCAR's qualifying system works against a driver trying to break into Cup with a new car. Czarnecki realizes Hornish is in a difficult position when only eight spots are available each week in the 43-car field.
Hornish was 13th in qualifying Saturday at Talladega, but five positions too low to make the race. The top 35 cars in owner's points have a guaranteed spot in the field. "It is frustrating, but I also understand NASCAR's rationale for going to the top-35 rule," Czarnecki said. "It's an economic reality of the sport that precipitated that decision." With six races left this season, Czarnecki is confident Hornish will qualify for some of those events.(ESPN.com)(10-8-2007)
Sam Hornish Jr. said he is going to wait until after the season before sitting down with his team, sponsors and owner Roger Penske to decide where he'll be racing next year.
Hornish failed to qualify at Talladega, his third miss in as many tries to make his Nextel Cup debut. He is committed to Car of Tomorrow races Oct. 21 at Martinsville, Va., and Nov. 11 at Phoenix, in addition to some Busch Series events.
Unlike fellow Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who as a rookie next year will inherit a car that is in the top 35 of the standings and thus assured of being in the first five races, Hornish would have to qualify week to week. "We have to get to the point where we feel comfortable we can get into these races," he said.
"What if I go to Daytona (for the 2008 opener in February) and don't make the race? Then we're behind all the way." Hornish is not averse to spending another year in the IndyCar Series. "Whatever the team decides, I'm OK with that," he said.(Indianapolis Star)(10-8-2007)