If Penske Racing really is still debating over who should drive the No. 22 Ford for next season then they have to be impressed with the recent performances of Sam Hornish Jr. Since AJ Allmendinger was replaced in the ride, Hornish has driven it for the last six races and is just starting to hit his stride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. (NSCS)
Hornish took over the wheel of the No. 22 car in Daytona. He arrived just minutes before the race started and eventually found his way to the grass en-route to a 33rd place finish. The next three weeks were a little better but once the series went to Watkins Glen, Hornish geared it up. Hornish placed 5th at the road course and was also gaining ground in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings.
This past weekend at Michigan, Hornish had to start at the back of the field since he did not qualify the car due to the Nationwide Series being in Montreal. It did not matter too much. Hornish cut though the field as well as Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr was was racing inside the top five for much of the day. Hornish led a total of nine laps at Michigan before falling back to a 12th place finish.
While Roger Penske has stated he wanted to see Hornish drive at the Cup level in 2013 it has been rumored that Penske Racing is interested in the services of Joey Logano for next season.
This Saturday night Hornish will drive the No. 22 car at Bristol Motor Speedway. Bristol has not been one of Hornish’s better tracks. In six races at the 0.533 mile track he has a best finish of 25th.
What better way for Hornish to improve his stock then to have another good finish this weekend?
It is not just the Cup Series that Hornish is improving in. He has cut the Nationwide Series lead of Elliott Sadler to 22 points following 3rd and 2nd place runs at Watkins Glen and Montreal. According to Penske officials, Hornish will complete the entire Nationwide Series schedule regardless of what happens with the 22 car.
Penske would also be wise to consider what Joey Logano is doing. At Joe Gibbs Racing the 21-year-old has managed just 7 top ten finishes this year in 23 starts. While one of those finishes was a win at Pocono the arrow has been pointed down on the stock fo Logano over the last month. He has three finishes outside the top ten during that span and has been unable to keep his car from having to visit the garage.