|Hornish to RPM in 2015|
“I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to be able to join a team like Richard Petty Motorsports,” said Hornish. “It really means a lot to me. I look at my racing career and I’ve been very blessed to work with some icons in motorsports. To have the opportunity to work for the King now -- coming out of a year where I had a part-time job working for the Coach (Joe Gibbs) and then the Captain (Roger Penske) in the past -- I feel really good about this opportunity to join the No. 9 team and have the opportunity to work with Drew Blickensderfer… Aric and the 43 team.
“There’s a lot of momentum in this organization and people that are putting in a lot of hours, working extremely hard,” he added. “Sammy (Johns) and all the guys are trying to push this organization forward and regain a top spot in the sport. I feel like having the opportunity to be here is awesome for my career. I just can’t say enough about the fact of getting to come here and being a part of something that’s building. They’ve done a lot in the last two years and they continue to position themselves so that they can move forward.”
Hornish said he feels better prepared for his second Sprint Cup opportunity than he was in 2008 with Penske Racing.
“I think at the point, I (had) 12 or 15 stock car races under my belt. I’ve got to work with quite a few different crew chiefs over the past couple years, and really that allows me to better understand what’s going through their heads, pick up things I like from one crew chief to the next and be able to – in the way I translate my notes and my thoughts on the car and the direction that we need to go – to express those feelings and to lead the crew chief in the (proper) direction.
“This is a different opportunity for sure than the one that I had previously. I’m not going to talk bad about anybody, but there were a lot of different things that made that not work. The thing I really need to be thankful for is that I stayed in the (sport) long enough and held onto my values that I thought (would) get me back into in a competitive Cup ride.
“I’ve worked four years to get back to this point, and I feel like I’ve come a long way as a driver. I fully expect Aric and myself to get on the same page and to have a common goal or common direction as far as what we want to do and what we expect.”
Before accepting the RPM ride, Hornish said he consulted with his wife, who has been with him through thick and thin.
“I sat down with my wife and got an idea of what she expected,” he said. “And to be quite honest with you, there was no question in her mind. She said, ‘You need to do that. That’s a great opportunity with good people and it’s what you’ve worked the last four years to get yourself back to.’
“The other sounding boards are two of (my) three kids that can talk right now. I asked my oldest what she thought about dad going back full-time racing, and she said, ‘Let me think about it a little bit.’ The next day, I was driving her to school and she said, ‘Dad, I thought about it and I really think that I want you to go full-time racing.’
“I said, ‘Why is that?’
“And she said, ‘Because I want to be able to go to MRO.’ MRO is Motor Racing Outreach and it’s an opportunity for where the kids get to go and hang out with other kids their age. So, even if it was for her own reason, she can’t ever say that she didn’t want me to do it.”
Hornish said he will do his best to adapt to RPM’s current structure, saying, “At this point in time, I’m the new guy. It’s really me coming in and seeing where they’re at, and what direction Aric and the team think we need to head until I get my feet wet and find my voice within the team. Then we’ll find out what happens, because when you can get two drivers on the same page, it really bodes well for the organization. You’re able to take a lot of the guess work out (and) you don’t have to make as many changes when you’ve got two guys heading in the same direction. You can get there twice as fast.”
Hornish said he never considered returning to the IndyCar ranks, since, “I haven’t achieved what I came over here originally for. I never came over here because I wanted a little more fame, or was going to make more money doing it. I came over here because I was intrigued by the competition. I felt like I had accomplished what I wanted to in the Indy Car Series, and now I put myself back in a position where I can continue to build on what I originally came over here for.
“I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge and I want to work hard,” he said. “Anything worth achieving is going to be a struggle. Maybe this is more of a struggle than I ever thought it was going to be, but it’s been fun and it’s really taught me a lot about myself. I continue to grow through each setback and each success. That’s how you work to become a well-rounded person.
“For me, it’s that thrill and excitement of going out there and competing, knowing how satisfying it is when you do get those wins, when you get those Top-5 finishes and say, ‘Yeah, we may not have had a Top-10 car today, but we got a Top-5 finish out of it because we worked as a team and found a way to put ourselves in position.’
“The harder it is to do, the more satisfying it is and the more it means when you achieve those things.”