And now, his future is way up in the air. There may be a place for him at Penske next year, and there may not, depending on sponsorship. (His current sponsor, Mobil, has pulled up stakes and may be headed in the direction of a certain Old Spice-less driver.)
So for the Hornish fans out there, and there are many, Nate Ryan of USA Today has some inside info that will prove illuminating. For the first time, Hornish left the door open to a possible return to the open-wheel series where he had so much initial success:
"I need to see how everything plays out," Hornish said. "I've said a lot of times I don't have a lot of interest to go back. But I'm not going to say never. My goal is to try to stay in the Cup series, and if I have to take a step back and run Nationwide, that's a possibility. I'll have to wait and see how it plays out, I guess."
Ryan notes that there's suddenly space apparently available for Hornish at a familiar open-wheel location, as Dan Wheldon may be leaving at the end of this season. Hornish started racing with Panther in 2001, winning two titles before jumping to Penske and, later, to NASCAR.
Credit Hornish for being willing to do what's necessary to stick in NASCAR. As with fellow close-but-not-quite driver Elliott Sadler, Hornish is willing to swallow his pride and run in a lower series until he proves himself. That can't be easy, but these days, you do what you have to do.
Hornish keeping options open [USA Today]