When Hornish was just five years old he attended the 1985 Indianapolis 500 and sat in the first turn with his father, “Big Sam.” Although he was just a youngster he has vivid recollections of Danny Sullivan’s famous “Spin and Win” when the eventual winner of the race spun out in the first turn attempting to pass race-leader Mario Andretti, did a complete spin at full speed and kept the car off the wall.
Hornish had some memorable moments himself at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but the greatest of all was his race-winning pass over leader Marco Andretti just a few hundred yards short of the checkered flag on the final lap in 2006.
Hornish competed in the Brickyard 400 from 2008-10 and in 2012 with his best finish 16th last year.
In the Inaugural Indiana 250 Hornish contended for the victory but it was Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski that won the race just ahead of Hornish to give team owner Roger Penske his first NASCAR victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Penske is the all-time winningest team owner in Indianapolis 500 history with 15 wins.
Hornish is set to finish one position higher in Saturday’s race.
“I came just short of winning last year and having the opportunity to be the inaugural race winner,” Hornish recalled. “We had a 1-2 finish for Penske Racing, which was the same as last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway and I was on the short end of that stick. It was a good weekend for the team and to be able to take over the points lead is good.
“A lot of people asked me if I was more excited about going to Indianapolis or having the points lead. It is about the same for me. I am excited about both opportunities. I am looking forward to the race starting. Last year we weren’t very good in practice and qualified like 14th but then had a good solid day and raced hard and I was happy with where we ended up from where we started out. It seems we are back at that again this year. We aren’t quite where we need to be for where the car needs to be. We have some work to do overnight but I have a lot of faith in the guys that they will do a good job.
“As much as I want to win here and would love to collect the bonus for Nationwide, the thing we need to continue to maintain and focus on is the fact that we are trying to win a championship this year. Race wins are great but at the end of the day we have to be smart and do all the things necessary to give ourselves the best opportunity to win the championship.”
Hornish led 56 laps last Sunday at Chicagoland but finished second to first-year Penske Racing driver Logano. Although it was another missed opportunity at victory Hornish understands the big picture in a points championship.