Hornish Jr. Enjoying Stock Cars At DIS

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Sam Hornish Jr. has been around historic Daytona International Speedway in an IndyCar machine, IROC car and in a sports car. During this week's NASCAR Busch Series testing sessions for the season-opening Feb. 17 Orbitz 300, Hornish Jr. took his first laps at "The World Center of Racing" in a stock car. Hornish Jr., behind the wheel of the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, quickly found some success by posting the fastest lap in Sunday's afternoon drafting testing session with a speed of 187.833 mph. "I've been here at Daytona in sports cars, been here in the IROC Series, been here in the IndyCar," Hornish Jr. said. "So now I've been here in the Busch car. I guess I can find my way around OK." In addition to competing in this weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona with Michael Shank Racing, Hornish Jr., who captured the 2006 Indianapolis 500, plans to enter the Orbitz 300 NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday, Feb. 17. With the compressed IndyCar Series schedule, Hornish Jr. has been able to test the stock car waters with the long term goal being an opportunity to race in the Daytona 500, NASCAR's signature event. "It's more for experience and something new . . . to be able to someday come here run the Daytona 500," Hornish Jr. said. "That's probably my goaI right now. You are not just going to jump in a Cup car and go out there and be able to win. I want to come here for my first time as a rookie for that and somewhat be competitive. I don't want to go home and not make the race. This is part of practice to be able to go out and do that." While Hornish Jr. has been able to succeed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he also wants to experience the glory of a Daytona International Speedway victory. "That's one of the things that has pushed me to want to do this," Hornish Jr. said. "I've finished second twice here in the IROC race. Obviously I haven't been to Victory Lane but I've been pretty close. I want to see if I can win one of these races. This obviously gives me an opportunity to do that. "To win a race here, whether a 24-hour race or someday the Daytona 500 - you can't ask for a whole lot more than that," Hornish Jr. continued. "It's hard to compare the two because the two tracks are so different but as far as Indianapolis and Daytona go, they are the two most historic places in the motor racing in the United States if not the world. They've got some of the greatest history that you are ever going to find. Whether starting off as a 2 ½-mile track that was paved with bricks or if it was starting off racing on a beach, there's so much history involved. So many people look to these two races as the greatest races and as the only races they watch all year. To put your name on the winner's list is pretty cool." Missing the Rolex 24: In the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Casey Mears was part of the overall winning Rolex 24 team with co-drivers Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon on the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. But in this year's Rolex 24, Mears will be on the sidelines for the twice-around-the-clock challenge. He switched teams from Ganassi to Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and was never able to sure a ride in the prestigious sports car event. "I'm already missing it," Mears said. "I had the opportunity to run it again this year. There were a couple of teams. Being that I'm with Chevrolet, it needed to be a GM team. It looked like Tony (Stewart), Jeff (Gordon) and Jimmie (Johnson) kind of had the top teams sewed up on the GM side. If I come back and do it, I wanted to make sure it was a team capable of winning after going through what I did last year. "I'll catch parts of it (on television). It's a long race. I'm more of a racer than a watcher. But I'll definitely be following it." Fastest of the day: Ward Burton, the 2002 Daytona 500 champion, was the fastest in the morning session on Monday with a

speed of 183.329 mph in the No. 27B Ford. The afternoon session was cut short by rain showers and Jon Wood in the No. 47A Ford posted the fastest speed with a lap of 185.866. Speedweeks 2007 tickets available: Tickets for Speedweeks 2007 events, including the 49th annual Daytona 500, are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or by logging onto www.racetickets.com

Tickets? Questions? Call 1-800-PIT-SHOP

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