Homecoming For Hornish Jr

A prepubescent Sam Hornish Jr. and his father drove the 90 or so miles from Defiance to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to watch practice and qualifying for a CART event.

"Sat right across from pit road," he recalls. "I was too little to see over everyone else, so I sat on the top of the fence pole all day long watching the cars go by and thinking how cool that would be to someday drive there."

Now the three-time IndyCar Series champion will join the illustrious list who have competed in an Indy car on the 2.258-mile road course when the No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone lines up July 22 for the inaugural Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance.

"I'm looking forward to heading to Mid-Ohio as I think we've got a great opportunity ahead of us after that second-place finish at Watkins Glen," said Hornish, who posted a career-best road/street course result on the 3.37-mile natural-terrain circuit July 8.

Hornish has competed there before, but the equipment was considerably different.

"I ran a go-kart here four or five years after (that qualifying day visit)," he said. "Did a race in October, and it was pouring rain all day. It was probably one of the worst experiences I've had in a car as far as being cold. I think I had pneumonia after that.

"Then I ran Formula Fords and Toyota Atlantic. It's always nice to come back. It's only a couple of hours from home. It's a fun little track."

Last week's third place finisher at Nashville Superspeedway Danica Patrick is looking forward to a chance to race at the legendary track and upgrade her team's road course perfomance.

"I’m looking forward to Mid-Ohio because it is the next opportunity to improve our road course program," Patrick said. "We just haven’t been as good in that area this year as I want to be and this weekend is the next shot for the Motorola team to step things up. We just need to work really hard to get comfortable right away on Friday, get a good starting position and be aggressive in the race on Sunday. We have to believe we can do that."

Series point leader Dario Franchitti has raced at Mid-Ohiop before during his CART days. But the veteran thinks a recent test may be even more beneficial than his past racing experience.

"I think that the test at Mid-Ohio earlier this year helped us," he said. "With the smoother surface, we are going to see better grip levels. The speeds were impressive at the test and I think we'll see even more this weekend. I am looking forward to going back to Mid-Ohio and trying to get the Canadian Club team their first road course win."

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Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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