For Hornish, it doesn’t matter if the race is in the enormous Indianapolis 500 or the NASCAR Nationwide Series Indiana 250 – a win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a big deal to the driver from Defiance, Ohio no matter what kind of car he is racing.
“It could compare real good,” Hornish said. “If they had a foot race around the place anyone would want to win it. That is why I think you always see how seriously the Cup guys take it and Nationwide and everybody. Everybody wants to come to Indianapolis.
“Anyone that tells you they didn’t dream of racing at Indianapolis growing up, no matter what they are in now as far as a racing forum, they either didn’t know about the Indy 500 because they lived under a rock or they are lying to you. Look at what it means to a guy like Tony Stewart. Look at what Kurt Busch did this year giving himself the opportunity to come test a car and see if it is something he wants to do.
“Whatever your pinnacle is, running at Indianapolis is definitely right up there for everybody.
“I know how awesome it is to be able to win here. A lot of people, until you get that feeling of kissing the bricks, it is a tough thing for you to be able to explain to anybody.”
Competing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway provides a driver with the most unique sense of anticipating combined with incredible pressure. Mistakes are magnified at the 2.5-mile oval but the rewards are immeasurable.
“There will always be pressure of coming here no matter what I race,” Hornish explained. “It is a thrilling feeling to be able to come here to race but it does make me a little bit nervous sometimes because I know that given the opportunity to win or to think about finishing second and padding the points lead, I might not make the right decision when it comes down to it tomorrow if I get myself in position to win this race.
“I don’t know how many of you remember the final lap of the 500 last year and everybody thought Sato run such a good race and then threw it away at the end. That is exactly what I would have done given the opportunity. You have to drive it in there and try. Who cares if you are second place? You don’t get your picture on the trophy or a bonus for doing that. He gave it his all and crashed out trying to do it, but that is what it is all about.”