Familiar Faces Hit The Bricks
“I think we have had a good amount of confidence this year — sometimes maybe a little overconfident in what we are able to do but I feel really good about the way we ran last weekend,” Hornish admitted. “Even when we were behind in the points people asked me if I was worried but the way we were running I didn’t think there was any reason we wouldn’t regain the points lead at some point as long as we didn’t have too much bad luck along the way.
“We’ve had good race cars and the guys are working hard. We feel there are still adjustments we can make to make our team better but we aren’t looking at it like we need a 10 percent gain in one spot. It is the fine-tuning of a percent here and there. We need a little better pit stops, better strategy, a little better driver feedback. It is all just a bunch of little things.”
Getting all of those things right is the primary goal at Indianapolis in what Hornish believes is a pivotal race in regards to the championship because it is unlike any other race track the Nationwide Series competes at.
“This is a wildcard race for us in a lot of ways,” he said. “We don’t run any other tracks that really overlap with what we are going to experience here. If we went to Pocono we would have something similar but this is the only track we run that is in this ballpark. It does make it difficult to figure out where we need to be for Indianapolis. We only get the two practice sessions Friday morning that were done by 11:30 and we started on the track at 8:30 and we were very free. As soon as the sun peeked up over the grandstands we ended up being tight. That shows you how quick things can change here. We do have a lot of momentum going and feel great about what we are doing but this is one of those weekends we aren’t really sure where we were going to be on the competitive scale and we have shown that we have a little bit of work to do yet.”
Hornish has a unique personality because he is quietly confident of his ability as a race car driver but very humble. He will never be accused of being braggadocios but recalls one time when he was arriving for the Indianapolis 500 that he wanted to tell one of the Yellow Shirt gate guards who he was.
“I remember one time I came here, maybe in 2003 and I had driven down from Ohio and had all my stuff in the car and had left my hard card in my bag in the back,” Hornish recalled. “I got down here to the tunnel and it wasn’t like it was even race day weekend, it was well before the 500 started and I came out of the tunnel and the guy was like, ‘I need to see your hard card.’ I told him it was in my suitcase and he wasn’t going to let me through without photo identification.
“I wanted to be a smart-ass and tell him to walk out the tunnel and look up because I was the previous series champion for the year and they had a thing that was 30-foot tall by 30-foot wide and I ended up having to go get my hard card.
“Thursday I brought some parts down for the team because we tested in Toledo earlier in the week. I brought some stuff so they didn’t have to take it on their commercial flight. I drove up to the tunnel and told them my pass was in my motor home, which I lied because it wasn’t and I knew I still had to go out there but I was trying to get the stuff to the guys before it closed. I pulled right up into where the haulers were parked at so we could unload it but they know me now.
“I shouldn’t maybe say that because they will think I am trying to take advantage of them but there are a lot of Yellow Shirts glad to see me and a lot of fans that have pictures for me to sign. I signed a group of pictures for a guy, everything from my rookie race here and qualifying pictures and like four or five from the day I won. After that whole deal was over yesterday I went to get my pass in the office building over there and one of my daughters asked if my picture was up around here. I told her yes and I took them to the museum and showed them my face on the trophy and some of the stuff up there. They got a kick out of that.
“I ranked second to Bob Sweikert’s pink No. 6 car that he ran in 1955 though. Having two little girls, they like pink.”