Here we go again

Posted by Iannucci | 12/29/2008 | 5 comments »
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Whenever his stock car career concludes, Sam Hornish Jr should probably resign himself to the fact that between now and then he's always ALWAYS going to get asked if he's going back to the Indy Racing League. In fact, he doesn't even need to be asked to be speculated upon. Case in point Lee Spencer at FOXSports, talking about Elliot Sadler.

Sadler's possibilities are rumored to include the No. 41 Chevrolet at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing or the No. 77 Dodge at Penske Racing should Sam Hornish Jr. replace Helio Castroneves in the IRL IndyCar Series.
Did you catch that? Very sly there, no? No one under employment from The Captain has given so much of a hint that Sam's coming back to open-wheel racing, but that didn't stop Spencer from dropping a little off-the-cuff possibility that Sam could replace Helio.

Of course, by posting this I'm sure blogger boy over here will get blamed for fueling the rumor. So be it.

In the interest of equal time I'd like to hand the keyboard over to Sam for a moment. Actually, he's not here right now, and since I'm typing from my bedroom it would be really creepy and awkward if he was. For both of us, I'm sure. However I do have the current issue of Racer with me, and in it Sam mentions that he's still pretty happy with his career path despite topping the crash list for 2008 to the tune of 20 accidents and spins in 34 stock car starts.

"I achieved more in Indy cars than I ever thought was possible, than I ever could have imagined when I was a kid. I got three championships, and I won the Indy 500. So I then thought it was time I tried something different, but I didn't want to just play at NASCAR. I always knew that getting good and getting quick in stock cars was going to be more than a one-year process. Here, I'm learning something new all the time and I'm constantly challenged.

"I'm in NASCAR for the long haul and I want to keep working at it. I'd be letting myself down if I just walked back to Indy cars."


OK then.

It's worth noting that Sam may be talking about being "constantly challenged", which no one would argue at this point, but one thing that isn't challenged has been his bank account. A quick check of the N-Word site shows that Sam, who without registering a single Top 10 in 2008 finished 38th in the Cup standings, still managed to earn $4,547,370 this year. Four-point-five big ones, people. That’s more than Clint Bowyer, who finished in 5th (don't ask me how), and it’s definitely more than Scott Dixon made from racing in the IndyCar series this year.

In fact, it's like over $225K per crash. Why would anyone walk away from that?

5 comments

  1. The American Mutt // December 29, 2008 3:00 PM  

    I thought the constant challenge was keeping pounds off...is this wrong? I'm thinking that he won rookie of the year (but could easily be wrong) due to a weak rookie class. This probably resulted in his making more than Clint Bowyer.

  2. Iannucci // December 29, 2008 3:05 PM  

    Nope - Regan Smith bested him for the Raybestos Rookie 'O the Year.

  3. Anonymous // December 29, 2008 3:24 PM  

    Would we really want Sam back if he had to just "settle" for Indycars like Dario did ????

  4. Sean // December 30, 2008 1:09 AM  

    Penske traded Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish's owner points at the start of the 2008 season to lock Hornish into the top 35 in points for the first five races and ensure he makes the field no matter how he qualified. If Busch failed to qualify, he could fall back on a past champion's provisional. NASCAR has a "Winner's Circle" program where the top ten winning teams from the previous season earn a monetary bonus for each race based on how many wins they had the year before. Hornish was in effect earning financial credit for Busch's two wins in 2007, while Bowyer, who only won once that season, earned less money per race. This won't happen next year, even if Penske trades the points AGAIN, because Kurt Busch won only once and had a miserable season so I don't think he'll be on the Winner's Circle program.

    Rookie of the Year does not provide a large monetary award, when compared to the Winner's Circle money in every race.

    Would Penske take Hornish back in the IRL considering he's not a great road racer? I think part of the reason he moved Sam to NASCAR in the first place was because Briscoe was a better choice in terms of an oval-road balance.

  5. Iannucci // December 30, 2008 12:27 PM  

    So, points from '07 translate to winnings for '08? Man, I hope Sam bought Kurt something nice for that. Like a new motorcoach.