Sam Hornish, Jr. returns to Team Penske for limited XFINITY run

Nigel Kinrade/Autostock

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Sam Hornish, Jr. is returning to the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) garage in a familiar ride.

Team Penske announced Thursday that Hornish, 37, will pilot the team’s No. 22 Ford in select NXS races, beginning with the tour’s upcoming trips to Iowa Speedway on June 24 and July 29.

The Defiance, Ohio native will return to the team when the series heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 12.

“I’m really excited to return to Team Penske and get the opportunity to drive the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang in a few races this season,” Hornish said in a release. “Team Penske continues to be one of the top teams in the XFINITY Series and I’m looking forward to once again working with them. Roger (Penske) and Team Penske have been a huge part of my racing career, so coming back here feels like home. I’m also really appreciative of everyone at Discount Tire for allowing me to take the reins of one of the most recognizable cars in the garage area.

“The new NASCAR eligibility rules also allow for drivers like me to compete in more races, so I hope to take full advantage of this opportunity.”

Hornish in a Team Penske driver’s suit should serve as a familiar sight for most that know him. Many of the Ohioan’s highest peaks in motorsports have come with Penske.

After moving over from Panther Racing in 2004, eight of Hornish’s 11 Verizon IndyCar Series wins came with Penske, including the 2006 Indianapolis 500. Hornish moved to NASCAR full-time in 2008, competing for Penske in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series from 2008-10.

While he didn’t find victory lane during his tenure in Cup, Hornish found marked success for Penske in the XFINITY Series, finishing as high as second in the series standings (2013) and winning two races.

Hornish made the move to Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) part-time in 2014, winning one NXS race in eight starts. The Ohioan moved to Richard Petty Motorsports full-time in the Cup Series in 2015, before returning to a part-time NXS ride with JGR and Richard Childress Racing in 2016, tallying one win for Gibbs at Iowa.

Hornish has four victories, eight poles and 35 top fives in 114-career NXS starts.

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