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Sam Hornish Jr . wants a win for RCR
RELATED: Meet the XFINITY Chase field SPARTA, Ky. – Sam Hornish may not be a threat in the NASCAR XFINITY Series inaugural Chase, but that doesn't mean the Richard Childress Racing driver isn't a concern. Saturday night's VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) officially kicks off the series' seven-race Chase. Hornish is making just his fourth start of the season, therefore he was not eligible for the 12-team Chase field. That hasn't keep him out of the winner's circle, however as he wheeled the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing to the win at Iowa. And in two subsequent starts with the No. 2 team for RCR, Hornish has finished sixth and second. He's making start No. 3 in the No. 2 Chevrolet for RCR here at Kentucky. And the 37-year-old was once again fast here Friday, clocking the third-fastest lap in each of the day's two practice sessions. Qualifying is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones was quickest in both practice sessions. "It was pretty good," Hornish said of the results at day's end. "The car started off a little bit free in the afternoon, but it was so hot. I felt like we got just a little bit behind there in the last practice but our car is good, it's got decent balance; we just need a little bit to be able to run with the JGR cars." Hornish has four top-10 finishes in five XFINITY Series starts at the 1.5-mile Kentucky track. His racing career, which includes three IndyCar championships, got a major boost here in 2000 when he finished ninth after running out of fuel late in the race. That effort opened eyes and doors, and soon his open-wheel career was off and running. His NASCAR career has included stints in Sprint Cup and the XFINITY Series; he also has one start in the Camping World Truck Series. "Right now this is the last (race) I have scheduled ... we've had a good run," he said of the RCR arrangement. "It's a good car, they've got some wins and they continue to build momentum. I'd like to go to Victory Lane for them for sure. "They're running for an owners' championship so we have to be smart about everything we do as well." JGR teammates Jones and Daniel Suarez are seeded first and third in the Chase, respectively, with veteran Elliott Sadler ( JR Motorsports) wedged in between. Ty Dillon , teammate to Hornish , is seeded fourth while Justin Allgaier (JRM) is fifth. Darrell Wallace ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Brendan Gaughan (RCR), Brennan Poole ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing), Ryan Reed (RFR), Brandon Jones (RCR) and Blake Koch (Kaulig Racing) round out the 12-team Chase field. "We were able to make some good gains mostly in race conditions," said Jones, who will be seeking his fifth win of the season on Saturday. "It wasn't so much that we needed the speed, we needed to find some drivability in it and I think we (did). ... "It's going to change a lot once it cools all the way down and we get into race conditions but I feel pretty good about it." Except for the number of races, the XFINITY Series Chase mirrors that of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, with three-race segments leading up to a one-race finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway .
Sam Hornish Jr . sets track record, earns Coors Light Pole at Mid-Ohio
RELATED: Results Sam Hornish Jr . won the Coors Light Pole Award Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , setting a track speed record as well. Hornish Jr . wheeled his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet around the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, Ohio, at a track record-setting 96.755 mph in the opening session of qualifying. In the second and final session, with a fast lap of 96.374 mph, he sealed the first starting spot in the Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "The fact that we're here. We're as good as we have been really is hats off to RCR and all the people that work on the Rheem No. 2 car," the polesitter said post-qualifying. "Right off the bat, this morning I was kind of worried about it being a little bit rusty. It's been a little while since I've been on a road course." This marks Hornish's eighth career pole and first of 2016. Sharing the front row will be Owen Kelly , a road specialist who reached 95.877 mph in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Ryan Blaney , (95.739 mph in No. 22 Team Penske Ford), Elliott Sadler (95.675 mph, No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) and Daniel Suarez (95.613 mph, No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) completed the top five, respectively.
Hornish Jr ., Ty Dillon lead Friday practices at Mid-Ohio
PRACTICE 2 " Results Sam Hornish Jr . led the final XFINITY Series practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Friday afternoon, posting a speed of 95.977 mph. Hornish was second-fastest in today's opening session. Ryan Reed came up short to the No. 2 driver, posting a high speed of 95.596 mph. Nelson Piquet Jr . (95.255 mph), Ryan Blaney (95.225 mph) and series points leader Elliott Sadler (94.959 mph) complete the fastest five drivers on the leaderboard. Friday's first practice leader, Ty Dillon , brought out a caution during the final session when his No. 3 Chevrolet made contact with a tire barrier in Turn 9. Dillon finished the practice run sixth-fastest (94.845 mph). The XFINITY Series returns to the road course one more time on Friday for Coors Light Pole Qualifying at 6:15 p.m. ET (USA/NBC Sports App). PRACTICE 1 " RESULTS Ty Dillon was the fastest in Friday's NASCAR XFINITY Series opening practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a speed of 96.087 mph. The Richard Childress Racing driver's fastest lap came on his 16th and final run on the road course. Sam Hornish Jr . was second-fastest to Dillon with a speed of 94.865 mph. Brandon Jones (94.564 mph), Brendan Gaughan (94.553 mph) and Ryan Blaney (94.207 mph) were the remaining of the top-five fastest, respectively. Daniel Suarez sustained major damage to the right-rear of his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after getting into the wall during first practice. Suarez posted a top speed of 93.927 mph, making him ninth-fastest for the first session. Owen Kelly , driving the No. 18 JGR Toyota, appeared to have engine issues during the opening session. Kelly clocked in 11th-fastest (93.819 mph).
Hornish Jr . to fill in for McDowell at Michigan
CONCORD, N.C. (August 23, 2016) – Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) has announced that Sam Hornish Jr . will fill in for Michael McDowell on Friday and Saturday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at Michigan International Speedway . McDowell is scheduled to race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Road America for Richard Childress Racing on Friday and Saturday. He will then travel to Michigan International Speedway and drive the No. 95 Thrivent Financial Chevrolet on Sunday in the Pure Michigan 400 for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing .
Sam Hornish Jr . celebrates with his family in Victory Lane in Iowa
An emotional Sam Hornish Jr . celebrates in Victory Lane with his family and crew on Father's Day at Iowa Speedway.
Hornish Jr . returns, no signs of rust
RELATED: Complete lineup for Sunday's race NEWTON, Iowa -- If there were any cobwebs for Sam Hornish Jr . in his return to a NASCAR track, they were hard to see after he was among the top-three in both NASCAR XFINITY Series practices and qualifying at Iowa Speedway . Hornish is back in action for this Sunday's American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The veteran driver is filling in behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after scheduled driver Matt Tifft was advised by his doctor to rest a disc condition in his back. The 36-year-old's last NASCAR start came in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . In that race, Hornish piloted the No. 9 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports . Since Homestead, Hornish has been doing "a lot of normal dad stuff" as he describes it, dance recitals and more with his wife and three children. He also went to Alaska with his dad and took his kids to the Indianapolis 500 for the 100th running of the event -- a race he won in 2006. "A lot of the rust happened on Thursday night. I didn't sleep very well. I was all nervous about getting back in the car," Hornish told NASCAR.com on Saturday at Iowa. "It's been since Homestead and six, seven months is not a lot of time for the sake of time itself but it's still a fair amount when things evolve in this sport." For Sunday's race, Hornish will line up third behind his JGR teammates for the weekend -- Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez . The speed Hornish has shown this weekend at Iowa is nothing new. In his last five starts at the 0.875-mile track, the Ohio native has five top-four finishes – including a win in 2014 with JGR in the team's No. 54 Toyota (which has since been renumbered to the machine Hornish will pilot Sunday, the No. 18.) "The car is good," Hornish said. "The guys here at Joe Gibbs Racing have these XFINITY cars figured out. ... With the fact that I have had the opportunity to drive here before, drive for them, you get in the car and everything is pretty much set how I would have it a couple years ago. "I really love Iowa. If it was going to come for a weekend to have to jump in the car and with a certain team to have to do it with, it was probably two of the best options as far as that goes." JGR has been the team to beat all year atop the sport's two top series, but the dominance is even more apparent in the XFINITY Series. Four drivers ( Kyle Busch -four wins, Jones-two wins, Denny Hamlin -one win and Suarez-one win) have combined to produced eight wins in the season's first 13 races. The only races on Hornish's docket prior to this last-minute add were recently announced as well. He will drive the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in two standalone XFINITY races: Iowa in July and Kentucky in September. The discussions with RCR started back in February, according to Hornish . "I've been vocal over the past three years of wanting to put myself in equipment that I felt was capable to run well. I love my family and I like spending time with them. I'm in a very fortunate position that I can be picky about what I am going to drive." Beyond that though, not much appears to be in the offing for the three-time race winner in the XFINITY Series, and Hornish seems content with that. "I've found in the past it's better to be standing there holding your helmet than to be in something that you can't get the effectiveness out of," Hornish said. "I love racing but it's not fair to my wife and kids how I act when I am in a situation that I'm frustrated. And I know that being frustrated is being put in a position where I feel like you can't win. "They know that their husband, their dad if he is home with them and it didn't work out, he's going to be a lot happier than if he's off chasing a dream that he knows he can't capture."
Hornish feels at home at Mid-Ohio, seeks more starts
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Coming to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course brings back childhood memories for Sam Hornish Jr . "For me, it means a lot to get to race in my home state," Hornish told NASCAR.com. "I'm just glad to be here first and foremost because I had the opportunity to be a kid and sit right across the track from us here in Turn 1, riding down and spend the day with my dad watching the IndyCar race and Trans-Am and stuff like that." Hornish , who hails from Defiance, Ohio, and now lives in Napoleon, Ohio, is just about two hours from home for Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The veteran driver is off to a strong start this weekend behind the wheel of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet as he led final practice and was second in Friday's opening practice. Hornish has raced before at the road course, running an IndyCar race here in 2007 and finishing 14th, driving for Roger Penske. The 37-year-old also has two XFINITY starts at Mid-Ohio, with a third-place finish in the inaugural event in 2013 and a pole in 2014 (before engine issues sent him to a 30th-place finish). Besides being close to home, Hornish has a general affection for the 2.258-mile track. "I love this track because you have elevation changes, you have some high speed corners, where it requires a lot of brakes," Hornish said. "And to me this is a little bit of a mix of what you would get in the (Sprint) Cup Series with having Sonoma and Watkins Glen (as road courses). You have some high speed but you also have some things where you are pressed to the hills and you got to keep the tires on the car." The Mid-Ohio start comes as a little bit of a surprise as AJ Allmendinger , who won the first XFINITY race here in 2013, had been announced as the driver for this race back in June. However, a scheduling conflict for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular led to Hornish getting the start. Saturday's race marks the third start of the year for Hornish with a fourth start (third with RCR) coming at Kentucky in September. Hornish has one win on the season as he piloted the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to Victory Lane at Iowa in June (filling in for the sidelined Matt Tifft ). His second 2016 showing, also at Iowa, resulted in a sixth-place effort. "The fact that I got added for this one when they had the opportunity to be able to do it, that's great," Hornish said. "We knew that it was a limited schedule for this year. Hopefully, there will be some more stuff I'll be able to do next year."
Hornish Jr . looks to build at growing RPM
Veteran ready for return to Sprint Cup Series, working with Almirola Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With its first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup appearance behind it, a new, decorated driver in tow and the dust settling on a massive race shop relocation, it's obvious that Richard Petty Motorsports is in the midst of a progressive transformation. The team, which saw Aric Almirola pick up his first career premier series victory last July at Daytona International Speedway to vault the No. 43 Ford into the sport's playoffs, recently moved its headquarters to an 80,000 square foot building in Mooresville, North Carolina, completely redesigning how it proceeds with day-to-day operations to really hammer the focus on a "one-team approach" -- with a two-car race shop and 35 new employees. Gone are the separate offices and garages of old. Crew chiefs, car chiefs and engineers now all interact openly with each other at their desks, while shop employees work side-by-side, knowing a set of shared goals is in place for the 2015 season. It's a new way of doing things that runs all the way up to the drivers themselves, Almirola and the incoming former Indianapolis 500 winner, Sam Hornish Jr . "I think Sam brings a lot of versatility," said team owner and seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty. "Marcos (Ambrose) was super on road courses and stuff, but he never got the hang of being ready. He could have good races and bad races and good times in the races, but I think Sam will be much more consistent with it. "In our testing, ( Hornish and Almirola) both felt the same thing in the car. Whether they'd change the air pressure or they'd change the springs and both of them feel the same thing. With Marcos, he was one way and Aric was the other way and so it was hard to compare them. Now we've got two cars that we can sit down and say, 'OK, you try this and I'll try that and if it works, we'll put it on the other car.' That should be an advantage for all of us." Hornish Jr ., the 2013 XFINITY Series runner-up, has three full-time Sprint Cup Series seasons and 131 starts under his belt and will replace Ambrose in the No. 9 car. He comes to RPM after racing part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2014 in an effort to position himself for a competitive Sprint Cup ride in 2015 -- which appears to be exactly what he's done. It was announced Wednesday during the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom that, despite having sold sponsorship for just 10 of the schedule's 36 races thus far, Hornish will be running a full slate, starting with the season opening Daytona 500 . With less than a month to go before the Great American Race, the lack of sponsorship is daunting but offers a view into what the King and Co. think of Hornish's talent behind the wheel. Performance on the track comes first, sponsorship later. For an organization and owner that have long been at the helm of motorsports innovation, the investments that RPM is making to grow and build for the future is clear. Its current focus is on testing new ideas and implementing them into the cars, something that they haven't necessarily beem able to do in recent years. With the tools and space that the new shop allows it to explore and take advantage of, combined with two drivers that are very much on the same page to start the season -- something that Petty alluded to not being the case with Almirola and Ambrose -- it should give RPM the flexibility to continue its growth from last season to expand its goals and increase performance in the coming years. "Aric came to all three of the tests and we got the opportunity to jump back and forth out of the car to see what each of us liked as far as driving goes and I feel like that's one of the main benefits right now," said Hornish , who led the eighth-most XFINITY Series laps in 2014 despite running just eight of the schedule's 33 races. "It seems like we both want similar things out of the race car. ... When we get to the race track, hopefully we'll be able to cover twice as much ground as far as finding what's going to be a direction to head and make our cars better each weekend." Hornish's last full-time Cup season was in 2010 -- in a Dodge, no less -- so there's certainly going to be some adjusting to do in the early going, especially considering he hasn't competed full-time at all since 2013. He knows there's going to be bumps in the road, but he's willing to put in the work necessary to make his mark on this avenue of motorsports before the 35-year-old starts to think about wrapping up his racing career. "Going back to the Cup Series full-time, it's a lot different than when I did it last time. I feel like we've got a lot of things to look forward to," Hornish said. "I want to be a part of building something. ... I feel like the best thing that I can do in the situation that I'm in right now is to try to be a good leader and keep people excited about what's going on and to move the program forward because I know that I'm not going to be racing forever. If I can get to the point where I leave it better than when I found it, I feel like that’s my main goal." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Manion to take over as Hornish Jr .'s crew chief
Richard Petty Motorsports announces crew chief change effective for Kansas Sam Hornish Jr . will have a new crew chief on the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford with Kevin "Bono" Manion coming aboard to be the team's new pit boss. The move takes effect immediately ahead of Saturday's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) at Kansas Speedway . Manion comes to Richard Petty Motorsports after serving as Alex Bowman 's crew chief for the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing team for nine races this season. In his career, Manion has been atop the pit box for 328 Sprint Cup races with five victories including wins in the 2010 Daytona 500 and at Indianapolis, Charlotte and Talladega with Jamie McMurray behind the wheel. Manion also guided Martin Truex Jr . to his first career premier series win at Dover in June of 2007. Manion also has 15 wins as a crew chief in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series. With Manion departing the No. 7 team, TBR team owner Tommy Baldwin will take over as crew chief for Bowman, starting immediately according to a press release from the team. "I'm very happy for Bono; we've been friends a long time," Baldwin said Tuesday. "I wish him nothing but the best. Climbing atop the pit box is somewhat of a familiar role for me, and I look forward to working with Alex." Drew Blickensderfer, who has been with Richard Petty Motorsports since the end of the 2012 season, was the crew chief for the first 10 races this season with Hornish . Blickensderfer has three wins atop the pit box including the opening two races of the 2009 season (including the 2009 Daytona 500 with Matt Kenseth ) but his last victory as a crew chief came in 2011 with David Ragan at the July Daytona race. Blickensderfer has been offered another position in the organization, according to a release provided by RPM. "We began the season with changes to the No. 9 race team, most notably with the addition of Sam as our driver," Sammy Johns, the Petty team's director of competition said in a release. "We are now looking to give Sam all the tools he needed to be successful. We feel that Kevin will bring some new ideas to help better our performance. We welcome him to the Petty family." Hornish is coming off a sixth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend, his first top-10 with Richard Petty Motorsports . The 35-year-old is currently 28th in the point standings. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
What rust? Hornish stomps field en route to Iowa win
RELATED: Complete race results NEWTON, Iowa -- Sam Hornish Jr ., who hadn’t been in a car in 210 days, gave himself the perfect Father’s Day present on Sunday -- a dominant victory in the sixth annual NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway . Hornish , who last competed in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway , received a call Monday from Joe Gibbs Racing to substitute for injured driver Matt Tifft . He made the most of the opportunity, picking up his fourth career XFINITY Series win and second at Iowa. Overall, it was JGR’s ninth triumph in 14 races this season. “I don’t know, it doesn’t get much better than that,” said an emotional Hornish in Victory Lane. “Just gotta thank Toyota, everyone from Joe Gibbs Racing for getting me out here and giving me this opportunity. Got my wife and kids here, it’s the first time the kids got to be here for one of dad’s wins. “I can’t tell you what this means to me. I worked so hard to try to get a win when I had my kids here. Gotta thank God. He makes things happen. I was so nervous on Friday getting into the car thinking I’m going to make a mistake, and man, to go out there and win the way that we did. Just can’t say anything more about it." Ty Dillon attempted to make a charge on Hornish on a Lap 224 restart, but settled for second, finishing ahead of Brad Keselowski . "I don't know, I guess we just needed to be a little bit better,” Dillon said. “The No. 18 ( Hornish ) was so dominant on the bottom (groove). I thought, obviously, we were the best car on the top (groove). "Just needed a little bit more speed. I'm proud of my guys. We were kind of a mid-pack car and did what we needed to do to put ourselves in position -- something we talked about all week -- and we did a great job." Hornish took the lead from last week’s XFINITY Series winner Daniel Suarez on Lap 24, setting the tone that the Joe Gibbs Racing cars were going to be hard to beat. The two drivers swapped the lead on pit road on two occasions before several competitors elected to use varying pit strategies following the event’s third caution on Lap 126. Hornish restarted sixth, but only took 13 laps to get back to the race lead, passing Suarez on Lap 139 and never relinquishing. Championship contender Erik Jones , who scored his fifth pole of 2016, had to drop to the rear before the race for an unapproved body modification. Jones, however, was never a factor as he battled fuel pressure issues, finishing 27th. The NASCAR XFINITY Series takes a week off before returning to Daytona International Speedway on July 1 for the running of the Subway Firecracker 250 .