In 2015 Sam Hornish Jr. will return to full-time competition in the Sprint Cup Series. He’ll be driving the #9 RPM Ford. His last full-time year in the top series was in 2010 and in that season he finished in the top ten once. Since then he’s done some TV, some Nationwide Series racing and has served as a backup/ test/ replacement driver. In 2014 Hornish Jr. had no scheduled starts but he did race in place of Denny Hamlin at Auto Club Speedway (finished 17th). In 2013 Sam Hornish Jr. only raced once and it was essentially an R&D race for Penske Racing (finished 37th, accident). In 2012 when AJ Allmendinger got suspended by NASCAR Hornish Jr. served as his replacement for the final 20 races of the season. While he drove the Penske #22 he had some quality races and at one point he finished in the top 12 in five of six races. My theory for his bump in performance that season was directly related to him driving for the #22 job. Once it was known it was Logano’s ride his good finishes dipped. In 5 of the final 8 races that year he finished 22nd or worse.
For those who’ve been fantasy racers for a number of years you should be quite familiar with Hornish Jr because he’s probably “burned” you a few times. In his career he’s been in 131 races and has 9 top tens, 42 top twenties and an average finish of 25.5. Pocono is arguably his best track statistically and his average finish there is 19.75.
From him in 2015 you should expect Marcos Ambrose like performance except without the good days at road courses. I’m sure he’ll show flashes every now and then but it will be hard to predict when it will happen.
Strengths – Sam Hornish Jr.’s best days will likely come at shorter flat tracks like Richmond and New Hampshire. Also some of his better days will be at some of the bigger tracks such as Michigan, Auto Club Speedway and Pocono.
Weaknesses – Consistency and Sam Hornish Jr. have never belonged in the same sentence.
Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite (Best of the best) > Front Runner (Will run very well) > Mid Pack (Middle ground performance expected) > Low (Don’t get your hopes up)
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – Low, Sam Hornish will probably be able to sneak in a good finish every now and then but he probably won’t back it up. In 2014 in his lone Sprint Cup start at Auto Club Speedway drove the #11 and finished 17th. Look for his best days on this track type to likely be at Michigan and Auto Club Speedway.
Read his teammates fantasy NASCAR preview: Aric Almirola
Flat Track Fantasy Value – Low, Although he’s an Indy 500 champion that hasn’t translated into success at that historic venue. His average Indy finish is 26.0. Pocono is statistically Sam Hornish Jr.’s best track and his average finish there is 19.8 . Between the 2009 and 2010 seasons he finished in the top 11 every race there. At New Hampshire he should be thought of as a high-teens to low-twenties driver. At Phoenix he is pretty much so his 23.8 average finish.
Check out our Sam Hornish Jr. Fantasy NASCAR Portal page
Short Track Fantasy Value – Low, Outside of Richmond you should expect the worst if you pick him on this track type. In 3 of his last 5 Richmond races he’s finished in the top 11. At the two other short tracks he should be avoided because in his career he’s essentially been a lock for a DNF like result.
Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – Low, Restrictor plate tracks haven’t been friendly to Hornish Jr. His best result at Daytona is 15th and that was in his first start. His overall Daytona average finish is 28.4. At Talladega things are actually worse. His best result there is also 15th but his average finish is 28.7. In two-thirds of his Talladega starts he’s finished off the lead lap.
Road Course Track Fantasy Value – Low, Just because he has an open wheel background doesn’t mean he’s mastered turning left and right. In his last two races at Watkins Glen he’s come home with finishes of 5th and 14th. At Sonoma he has three races under his belt and has finished 31st or worse every race.