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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 . 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 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 goes spinning, later runs off course
Sam Hornish Jr . started the race from the pole, but he runs into trouble in the rain after spinning on a restart and then running off course into the dirt.
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 wins with family after road trip, teaching stint
RELATED: What rust? Hornish's Iowa win " Hornish returns to racing Sam Hornish Jr . didn't even have his official NASCAR license or "hard card" when he received a call from Joe Gibbs Racing last week asking if he'd like to drive the team's No. 18 Toyota in the Iowa Speedway XFINITY Series event on Father's Day Sunday. After the deal was formalized last Wednesday afternoon for the 36-year-old to make his first NASCAR start of the year -- five months into the 2016 season -- the former XFINITY Series championship runner-up hastily arranged to take the NASCAR mandated drug test. Fortunately, he had turned in all his other medical paperwork before the season started "just in case" he got the phone call as he did last week. Lastly came the job of quickly packing all his racing gear. Some of it was at the family home in Ohio where the Hornish family was last week, and other parts of it were in the family's North Carolina house. "I didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket, I knew I couldn't carry-on everything, but I did put some things in there in case my checked bag got lost," Hornish shared with NASCAR.com this week, his voice still exhilarated for what turned out to be a thrilling victory at Iowa -- with no preparation other than the event's scheduled time on the track. "It was huge especially after the year we had last year, just to get the opportunity was fun," Hornish said. "I knew with the strength of the 18 car there was opportunity. I was a little bit nervous just because you get into that kind of race car and having been out of the car as long as I was, you just kind of wonder if everything is going to work out the way you think it should. "I don't know how it could have been much better." The best part for the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner was that it was the first time his young family was all in attendance to see him hoist a trophy. "Ever since first Father's Day in 2008 and Addison was just a baby, I remember waking up at Michigan -- my first year in the Cup Series --and she was sitting there on the bed," Hornish recalled. "I remember thinking how cool it would be to take her to Victory Lane. The other races I won my family (wife Crystal and including his other two children Eliza and Sam Hornish III) they didn't happen to be there. Even my dad, who was there, was driving my bus for me so he'd leave the track when the race started. "It feels good you won, but you want to share it with somebody. I can't remember how many times in the XFINITY Series I finished second and the kids were there. I remember thinking, am I ever going to be able to make this happen?" Even thinking about it half a week later makes Hornish emotional. Many have wondered when the talented driver will give NASCAR another shot after he nearly won the XFINITY Series championship but struggled to post good results in four full Cup Series seasons with the Team Penske and Richard Petty Motorsports operations and several half-season efforts in between. Having had NASCAR success -- challenging for the 2013 XFINITY crown -- and won three IndyCar championships and an esteemed Indy 500 ring, Hornish said this week that he is most proud of having his children present with him in Victory Lane. The time out of the car Hornish has spent in a most unusual -- yet exceedingly gratifying way. He is a devoted member of a prayer group in Charlotte, North Carolina. And in May, he and his father made a long-awaited 11,000-mile road trip to Alaska. It was something the two had talked about doing for half a decade but always put on hold because of racing. Now he had the time. "A lot of other people were saying, 'Too bad you're not getting any wheel time,' and I told them, 'Man I'm getting some wheel time,' " Hornish shared with a laugh. "I did close to 11,000 miles of driving during the month of May." Perhaps the most surprising and interesting thing Hornish has done out of the race car is find a place in the classroom -- as a substitute teacher. He's taught physical education to first-graders and a music class -- yes music -- to students from kindergarten to eighth grade. "Most of the kids just know me as Addison's dad," Hornish said. And right now, that feels pretty good. Even before he drove to Victory Lane last weekend, Hornish had secured two XFINITY starts for Richard Childress Racing and he will be in the No. 2 Chevrolet at the next Iowa race and the series' second Kentucky stop. "That's what I know right now and in a lot of ways, I hope there will be more," Hornish said. "At this point in time, one of the hardest things is explaining to people, I could be out there racing right now, if I didn't want to run well. I'm fortunate that I can be choosy." And he added -- his voice unmistakably filled with emotion, "After everything that happened last week, it's like you got the ice cream sundae with whipped cream and the cherry on top. "I keep thinking how blessed I am all those things got to happen. Without getting too sentimental, I kept thinking to myself for the past six to seven months, if I could just win a race and have them there, that's all I need. "Then I can be happy about everything I've done, whatever the ups and downs were."
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 .
Hornish wins in Iowa in first NASCAR race of 2016
Sam Hornish Jr . earns the victory at Iowa Speedway in his first NASCAR race this season.