Sam Hornish, Jr.

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Sam Hornish, Jr.
Sam Hornish, Jr. 2008 Daytona.jpg
Hornish in 2008
Born (1979-07-02) July 2, 1979 (age 35)
Defiance, Ohio, U.S.
Achievements 2001, 2002, 2006 IndyCar Series Champion, 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner
Awards 2004 IndyCar Series Most Popular Driver
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
131 race(s) run over 8 year(s)
2013 position 72nd
Best champ.
28th (2009)
First race 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500 (Phoenix)
Last race 2014 Auto Club 400 (Fontana)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 9 0
NASCAR Nationwide Series career
106 race(s) run over 8 year(s)
Car no., team No. 54/20 (Joe Gibbs Racing)
2013 position 2nd
Best champ.
2nd (2013)
First race 2006 Arizona Travel 200 (Phoenix)
Last race 2014 U.S. Cellular 250 (Iowa)
First win 2011 Wypall 200 (Phoenix)
Last win 2014 Get To Know Newton 250 (Iowa)
Wins Top tens Poles
3 57 7
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
1 race(s) run over 1 year(s)
Best champ.
74th (2008)
First race 2008 Kroger 200 (Martinsville)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 1 0
IndyCar Series career
116 race(s) run over 8 year(s)
Best champ.
1st (2001, 2002, 2006)
First race 2000 Delphi Indy 200 (Disney)
Last race 2007 Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 (Joliet)
First win 2001 Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 (Phoenix)
Last win 2007 Bombardier Learjet 550 (Texas)
Wins Podiums Poles
19 47 10
Statistics current as of August 16, 2014.

Samuel Jon Hornish, Jr. (born July 2, 1979) is an American auto racing driver. A three-time IndyCar Series champion, he currently competes in stock car competition, driving in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing in the #54 car and #20, sharing the former with Kyle Busch.

Early career[edit]

Born in Defiance, Ohio,[1] Hornish began racing at the age of 11 in go-karts. After competing in junior leagues for various seasons, he joined the World Karting Association in 1993, winning seven races and posting twenty-nine top-five finishes. The following season, he won several championships in WKA, including the U.S. and Canadian Grand Championships, as well as the U.S. Junior Class Grand Championship. In 1995, he repeated his U.S. Grand National title and won nine races. He would move up to the United States F2000 Series, driving six races for his family-owned team, and had one top-ten finish at Watkins Glen International. He joined Aim Autosport in 1997 and had two eleventh-place finishes, before signing with Primus Racing. He had a second-place run at Pikes Peak International Raceway and finished seventh in points.

In 1999, Hornish moved to the Toyota Atlantic Series to drive for Shank Racing. He won Rookie of the Year after getting his victory at Chicago Motor Speedway. He also drove the 24 Hours of Daytona for Intersport Racing.

IRL career[edit]

Practicing for the 2007 Indianapolis 500

He first raced in the IRL in 2000 with the PDM Racing team, finishing 21st in the point standings with a best finish of third. However, he switched to Panther Racing for the next season and improved enough to take the title from reigning champion Buddy Lazier. In 2002 the Penske team switched from Champ Car, and Sam was able to beat their top driver Hélio Castroneves to his second title. Along the way, Hornish beat Al Unser, Jr. by .0024 of a second in the Delphi Indy 300 in Chicago, possibly the closest race in auto history until the 2007 Indy Pro Season when Logan Gomez beat teammate and champion Alex Lloyd at the same racetrack by only 0.0005 sec, or 1.65 inches (42 mm).

In 2003, most of the established top US open-wheel teams were now racing in the series, with Honda and Toyota providing engines superior to the established Chevrolet unit Panther used. As a result, Cosworth was called in to supply a replacement engine informally dubbed the "Chevworth", with which Sam was a winner again, finishing 5th in the 2003 standings. For 2004 he moved to Penske, winning the season-opener but finding that Honda engines, and not Penske's Toyotas, were now the engine of choice. 2005 was an improvement, as he finished third to Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan in the standings and the top placement of any driver not driving for Andretti Green Racing.

On May 28, 2006, after starting on the pole for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, Hornish became the first driver to ever overtake for the lead on the race's final lap, ultimately winning the race in the last 450 feet (140 m) by a 0.0635-second margin over Marco Andretti. Also in that year, he won the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Scott Brayton Award, awarded annually to the driver best exemplifying a spirit of tenacity as well as friendliness amongst the race's participants. Hornish went on to win the 2006 IRL championship in the final race of the season by a tiebreaker over defending champ Dan Wheldon. He became the first 3-time champion in IRL history. In 2007, he only won one race at Texas, and finished fifth in points.



2007 Busch car
2008 Sprint Cup car
Hornish competing in a 2006 International Race of Champions race at Texas Motor Speedway.

On October 28, 2006, Hornish announced that he would attempt to run the final two 2006 NASCAR Busch Series races for Penske Racing, as well as select events in 2007. In his first two Busch starts, Hornish wrecked his #39 Mobil 1 Dodge both times, and did not finish better than 36th. In 2007, his car was switched to the #12, and he competed in seven Busch races, his best finish being a 15th at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Beginning in fall 2007, he started attempting Nextel Cup races in the #06 for Penske, and made only two races (at Phoenix International Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway).

Hornish moved up to drive the #77 for Penske in Sprint Cup in 2008 with Mobil 1 sponsorship.[2] In his first Daytona 500, Hornish had a 15th place finish. Teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch finished first and second to give Roger Penske his first 1-2 finish in the Daytona 500. After the race Roger Penske said, "It is nice to see Sam display some of his racing talent in the biggest race in NASCAR." After struggling to make his first NASCAR Cup Series events; Phoenix where he finished 30th and Homestead where he finished 37th, after the 2008 Daytona 500 he admitted that even he was surprised to see himself running in the top-10 most of the day. He also said, "I wish they would have started the race about two hours sooner, so it still could have been sunny out. If the sun had never gone down, we would have had a better chance. Once the sun goes down, everybody starts getting more and more evenly matched up, because there's not all that worry about the tires sliding around so much because of the heat."

To allow Hornish to start in the first five Sprint Cup races of the season, Penske swapped the owner points of Kurt Busch's #2 car with the #77's, which ensured Hornish of a place in each of the races as Busch's team had finished seventh in the final 2007 Nextel Cup standings (and also protected Busch in case of bad qualifying efforts as he would have been able to use the Champion's Provisional for the first five races in 2008, as the rules state that the most recent Cup champion not qualified gets into the field; Busch's 2004 championship qualified him for use of the provisional).

At the May All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway Hornish finished second in the Sprint Showdown to earn a start in the All-Star race. Hornish finished 7th. Hornish would finish second in a competitive Rookie of the Year race to Regan Smith, which could not have been helped by Hornish's string of poor finishes and failure to qualify for two.


As the 2009 season started, the team had high hopes for the season. However, bad luck late in 4 of the first 6 races kept Hornish from being able to achieve his elusive first top 10 finish in a Sprint Cup points race. Nevertheless, he showed great improvement from 2008. Finally, on April 18 in Phoenix, he got his top 10, finishing the race in 9th place. Two races later Hornish again improved on his career best finish scoring 6th in the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway. A week later, despite its being a non-points race, Hornish got his first NASCAR victory by winning the annual Sprint Showdown, which qualified him for the Sprint All-Star Race for the second year in a row. He'd go on to finish 16th in the event.

While Hornish's results improved from his rookie campaign, the team still struggled with consistency and finishing races. In addition to his two top ten finishes early in the year, Hornish scored 5 additional top tens (both Pocono races, New Hampshire, Michigan, and again at Richmond) and also gained his first two top five finishes with a fourth place effort in the Pennsylvania 500 and a fifth place finish at Michigan. Those efforts, however, were countered with 13 finishes of 30th or worse (with 7 of those being finishes of 35th or worse). Since his debut, Hornish has finished 30th or worse in 33 of his 62 career starts.

With Mobil 1 departing for Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of 2010, Hornish was left without a Cup Series ride but elected to remain at Penske to drive a limited schedule in the Nationwide Series with the #12 Dodge Challenger in 2011. He competed in 13 races and achieved six top ten finishes. Hornish also recorded his first NASCAR Nationwide series win during the 2011 Wypall 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, the site of his first IndyCar win. He also became the first driver to win on Phoenix International Raceway's new configuration. Hornish also drove the #38 Front Row Motorsports Sprint Cup car at Pocono, as regular driver Travis Kvapil was competing for the Truck Series championship and was unavailable for the race.

Hornish returned to the Nationwide Series for a complete schedule in 2012, driving the #12 Dodge.[3] Hornish returned to the Cup Series at the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, driving the No. 12 Dodge for Penske Racing;[4] he was also scheduled to compete in the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 later in the season.[5] After A.J. Allmendinger was suspended for drug abuse, Hornish took over the #22 Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series beginning at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.[6]

One of Hornish's 2013 Nationwide Series cars

From 2012–present Hornish has performed well in the NNS. At Talladega Hornish barely avoided Eric McClure's horrific massive crash and was in the top ten for the remainder of the race. However he blew a tire and made contact with former IRL rival Danica Patrick. In reply Danica Patrick crashed him after the checkers. Hornish forgave Patrick but nonetheless Patrick was put on a temporary probation for her actions. Later at Montreal Hornish in a final green-white-checkered finish attempt made a run from 14th to 2nd place in two laps.

Meanwhile in the Cup Series, Hornish with the #22 Cup ride had several top tens or good runnings after replacing Allmendinger. He had an almost win at Watkins Glen after a genius pit stop by his crew but was passed by the fastest drivers of the day Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose with a few laps left. After the race Hornish who finished in 5th place, said the Watkins Glen finish was one of his best performances in the cup series. After the season ended Joey Logano took over the #22 car.

In 2013 Hornish dominated the race at Las Vegas leading for 114 laps. After a pit stop, Hornish came back through the field to beat Kyle Busch for the win. It is his second NNS victory and it ended a long NNS winless streak dating back almost two years prior at Phoenix.

Hornish made his first appearance in the Cup Series for 2013 driving his NNS #12 for the Spring NSCS race at Kansas. In the final stages Hornish crashed because of winds and collected fellow driver Casey Mears in his accident. Hornish finished second in the final 2013 Nationwide Series standings, three points behind Austin Dillon; following the 2013 season he was released by Penske Racing due to a lack of sponsorship for the 2014 season.[7]


Hornish in the #54 car at Road America

For the 2014 season, Hornish will drive part-time in the Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing in the #54 car, splitting the ride with Kyle Busch.[8] For the 2014 Auto Club 400 Sprint Cup race, he replaced Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing car.[9] Hornish finished 17th.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Hornish with his daughter Addison at Road America in 2014

Hornish is a 1998 graduate of Archbold High School in Archbold, Ohio, and now resides in Napoleon.

On February 4, 2008, Sam and his wife Crystal welcomed their first child, Addison Faith Hornish, into the world. Baby Addison weighed 7 lb (3.2 kg). 2oz. and measured 18 inches (460 mm). Hornish finished 15th in his first Daytona 500 just a couple of weeks after. Sam and Crystal welcomed their second child, Eliza Jo, on December 28, 2010. Baby Eliza weighed 7 lb (3.2 kg). 15 oz and measured 20.5 inches (520 mm). Hornish's third child; this time a son, named Samuel Hornish III, was born in January 2014.

Motorsport career results[edit]

American open-wheel racing results[edit]

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Atlantic Championship[edit]

IRL IndyCar Series[edit]

Years Teams Races Poles Wins Podiums
Top 10s
Indianapolis 500
8 3 116 12 19 27 32 1 (2006) 3 (2001, 2002, 2006)

Indy 500 results[edit]

Year Chassis Engine Start Finish Team Note
2000 Dallara Oldsmobile 14 24 PDM T2 Accident
2001 Dallara Oldsmobile 13 14 Panther Finished
2002 Dallara Chevrolet 7 25 Panther Finished
2003 Dallara Chevrolet 18 15 Panther Engine Failure
2004 Dallara Toyota 11 26 Penske FS Accident
2005 Dallara Toyota 2 23 Penske T1 Accident
2006 Dallara Honda 1 1 Penske Last lap pass for the win
2007 Dallara Honda 5 4 Penske Finished


(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings. * – Most laps led.)

Sprint Cup Series[edit]

Nationwide Series[edit]

Craftsman Truck Series[edit]

* Season in progress
1 Ineligible for series points

24 Hours of Daytona[edit]



  1. ^ "Sam Hornish, Jr. Official Biography". Penske Racing. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  2. ^ Hornish in No. 77 Mobil 1 Penske Dodge in 2008
  3. ^ "NNS: Hornish Says He’s Here To Stay". SPEED Channel. February 24, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ "No. 12 SKF Dodge Charger Preview – STP 400". Penske Racing. April 17, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-18. 
  5. ^ Adamczyk, Jay (March 30, 2012). "Hornish Jr. scheduled to make two Cup starts". Jayski's Silly Season Site – #12 Team News. ESPN. Retrieved 2012-03-30. 
  6. ^ "Hornish back in No. 22 car at New Hampshire". NASCAR. Turner Sports. July 9, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  7. ^ Long, Mark (November 17, 2013). "Roger Penske says maybe he started Sam Hornish Jr.'s career going 'backwards'". Autoweek. Retrieved 2013-11-19. 
  8. ^ Spencer, Lee (January 5, 2014). "Sources: Hornish to share car with Kyle Busch in Nationwide Series". FOX Sports. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  9. ^ Bromberg, Nick (March 23, 2014). "Denny Hamlin to miss race at Auto Club, Sam Hornish Jr. to fill in". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2014-03-23. 
  10. ^ "2014 Auto Club 400". Racing-Reference. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Buddy Lazier
Indy Racing Northern Lights Series Champion
2001, 2002
Succeeded by
Scott Dixon
Preceded by
Dan Wheldon
IRL IndyCar Series Champion
Succeeded by
Dario Franchitti
Preceded by
Dan Wheldon
Indianapolis 500 Winner
Succeeded by
Dario Franchitti
Preceded by
Kenny Bräck
Scott Brayton Trophy
Succeeded by
Tony Kanaan