Sam Hornish Jr. returns for his second-consecutive season of full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series competition with Penske Racing in 2013. The upcoming season will mark the veteran driver's fifth full-season effort in NASCAR and his seventh season overall in stock car competition.
A native of Defiance, Ohio, Hornish enters this year well positioned to make a strong bid for the Nationwide Series Championship as he will contest this season in a Ford Mustang, the car that has claimed the top spot in the series for each of the past two seasons. Fresh off an impressive fourth-place finish in the 2012 NNS championship race, Hornish will also be paired with experienced crew chief Greg Erwin for the first time in 2013 as the duo looks to secure Penske Racing's second Nationwide Series title.
Alliance Truck Parts will sponsor the No. 12 Penske Racing machine, along with Wurth, throughout the 10-month season. After a strong showing in 2012, which included Hornish's first-ever NASCAR pole at Watkins Glen, five top-three, 10 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes, the dedicated father of two is well prepared to fight for the series crown.
The path Hornish has taken to driving the 2013 Alliance Truck Parts/Wurth Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series has been atypical, as the three-time IndyCar Champion, Indianapolis 500 winner and Nationwide Series winner possesses one of the most diverse resumes in the series.
The 33-year-old Hornish remembers growing up racing with his father while his mother helped run the family business in his native Ohio. Looking back on his advance through the racing ranks en route to NASCAR, Hornish credits the support of his family for the unprecedented success he achieved at a young age.
Hornish began racing go-karts at age 11. Four years later he emerged victorious in the World Karting Association's U.S. Grand National Championship. In 1996, Hornish moved to Formula Ford, spending more than two seasons in the U.S. Formula Ford 2000 Series before progressing to the Toyota Atlantic Championship.
Hornish entered the IndyCar Series in 2000. He caught the eye of Panther Racing, which went on to hire him for the team's 2001 campaign. Their decision proved prudent when Hornish claimed victory in his first two starts with the team, ultimately winning the series crown in his rookie season. In 2002, Hornish earned five victories and 11 top-five finishes on his way to his second consecutive IndyCar Series Championship.
After the 2003 season, Hornish realized his childhood dream when Team Penske invited him to join them for the 2004 season. Hornish won his debut race with Team Penske - his victory marked the first time in the history of Penske Racing that an Indy car driver won his inaugural race with the team. In his second season with Team Penske, Hornish earned two victories and finished third in the series championship.
Hornish made two significant additions to his resume in 2006 by earning his third career IndyCar Championship and winning the Indianapolis 500. He captured the win from the pole, making a pass on the final stretch of the last lap to steal the win from rookie Marco Andretti in one of the most remarkable finishes in the history of the storied event. The IndyCar Series Championship marked the first-ever series title for Penske Racing and the Indy win represented the team's 14th 500 victory. At the end of the 2006 season, Hornish made his stock car racing debut with a pair of NASCAR Nationwide Series starts for Penske Racing.
In 2007 Hornish competed in his final season in the IndyCar Series, while contesting multiple NASCAR Nationwide Series races, as well as two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events as he began to transition from open-wheel to stock cars.
During the 2008 Sprint Cup Series, Hornish started strong at the season-opening Daytona 500 and the Sprint All-Star Race, where he was one of two participants to race their way into the event. Hornish earned three top-15 finishes with a season-best result of 13th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. That year Hornish also competed in eight Nationwide Series races with four top-15 finishes and a Camping World Truck Series race where he earned his first NASCAR top-10 finish with a ninth-place result. Hornish finished second in the 2008 Sprint Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year standings.
In 2009, Hornish completed his sophomore season in the Cup Series with strong results. He captured his first Cup Series top-10 finish at Phoenix International Raceway with a ninth-place result en route to a total of seven top-10 finishes for the year. Hornish continued his momentum by scoring his first NASCAR top-five finish with a fourth-place result at Pocono Raceway. Two weeks later he scored a fifth-place finish at Michigan International Speedway. Hornish earned his first NASCAR victory in the Sprint Showdown qualifying event for the 2009 All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Hornish then went on to finish 16th in the All-Star race.
The 2010 NASCAR Cup Series season saw Hornish make marked improvements in many categories. His qualifying results improved dramatically as he posted two top-three starting positions in 2010. Hornish also made gains in consistency and average finishing position over the course the season. He completed a noteworthy 95% of the laps in which he raced, and he led a NASCAR career-high 50 laps of competition.
Though he only raced a partial schedule in Nationwide Series competition, in 2011, Hornish was able to re-evaluate his goals and career path. On the strength of his first-ever NASCAR victory at Phoenix International Raceway, he emerged from the season more determined than ever to succeed in stock cars.
Though he's a world-class racer, Hornish remembers his roots as he gives back to the sport and his community. In his hometown of Defiance, Ohio, Hornish aided in the creation of a senior center, as well as the addition of a heart center at the Defiance Medical Center. Hornish also turned his love of bowling into a successful charity campaign at the fall race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. In conjunction with Speedway Children's Charities, Hornish has raised over $500,000 to benefit the children of North Texas.
Hornish enjoys customizing vehicles. His collection includes a 1930 Model A Ford, a 1951 Mercury, a 1955 Chevrolet Del Ray, a 1965 Cadillac Coupe de Ville and a 1967 Chevrolet pick-up truck, as well as a Corvette ZO6 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car. He also enjoys a diverse collection of antiques such as a 1901 Barber chair, a 1918 Excelsior motorcycle and an intricately carved 1895 Armoire that is now the backdrop to the bar in his Mooresville home. Along with his automotive and antique collections he manages to find time to design and build items for his daughters such as a tree house and a carriage. As busy as he is with racing, parenting and keeping up with his various projects, Hornish says that live music is his guilty pleasure and has diverse tastes in music.
Hornish and wife Crystal have two daughters, Addison and Liza. They divide their time between Napoleon, Ohio and Mooresville, NC.