It’s been nine years since Sam Hornish Jr. experienced the biggest moment of his racing career when he won the 2006 Indianapolis 500.
Two years later, the Ohio native made the jump from IndyCar to NASCAR for his first of two full-time stents in stock car racing.
This weekend will mark the Ohio-native’s first Sprint Cup start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2012, when he made his fourth for Team Penske, then as a part-time driver after three full-time seasons. He makes his return with Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 9 Medallion Bank Ford.
“It’s been nine years since I’ve won the 500, in a way it seems like just yesterday, but it also seems like it’s been forever ago,” Hornish said in a team release. “Now, I get to go back and make some more good memories.”
So far, the best Indy-related NASCAR memory for Hornish is finishing second in the Xfinity Series’ inaugural race at IMS in 2013. Hornish’s only solid NASCAR success since 2006 has been three Xfinity Series wins.
“One of the things I like about racing the stock cars at Indy is with race strategy and fuel mileage coming into play, you can always put yourself in a position to have a good run there, if you play your cards right,” Hornish said.
In the Cup series, Hornish has yet to play his right. In four starts, Hornish’s best finish is 16th in 2012. His average finish is 26th.
Hornish was one of the drivers that was part of a test at IMS on April 30. But what his team learned then and the strategy he is used to at Indy may change this weekend due to the high-drag rules package NASCAR will debut at the track.
One asset Hornish has at his disposal is crew chief Kevin Manion. Manion directed Jamie McMurray to Victory Lane in the 2010 Brickyard 400.