SPARTA, Ky. - Sam Hornish Jr. returns to the seat of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota tonight at Kentucky Speedway for his final "scheduled" start this season.

Hornish is racing a partial Nationwide Series schedule and sounds like a man who has grown to appreciate becoming more of a homebody but is hungry for an opportunity to get back to the Sprint Cup Series.

"There's not a ton of availability to be out there and to be full time," the Defiance, Ohio native said. "I also have three kids. There's a part of me that really wants to go full-time racing and to do it in the Cup Series. That's a big part of me. But then I realize, the other thing is, as far as the family aspect of it that I'll miss. It's got to be the right thing."

One potential opportunity in the Sprint Cup Series is at Richard Petty Motorsports, where Marcos Ambrose is leaving the No. 9 Ford after this season. Ambrose is returning to Australia to race V8 Supercars for Roger Penske.

Hornish was asked specifically about that possibility.

"I feel like any driver that wants to be full-time in the Cup Series or would like a good place to go work at has talked to Richard Petty Motorsports about that opportunity," he said. "When you look at it, they've still said that they're working on getting all their funding in place. I read the same things that you do. As soon as we found out there was an opportunity, that Marcos might be leaving, you know, 'Hey, what are you guys thinking about for next year?'

"They've shown a lot of progress with the 43 team over the past year. With all of Richard's success, and you would feel like it's very important for him to move the team forward and to get it back to where he expects that it should be at. From the outside looking in, there's a lot of good things going on over there."

The 35-year-old has made seven Nationwide Series starts this season in the No. 54 and has one win and four top-five finishes. Kyle Busch has driven the car in the other races.

At Kentucky Speedway, Hornish is a two-time winner in an Indy car at Kentucky Speedway and owns a 5.250 average finish in four career Nationwide Series starts at the track. He started from the pole in this race last year and finished second in it in 2012.

"I've got great memories of being here," Hornish said. "I've won twice in the IndyCar Series and came close a couple times in the Nationwide Series. I'm looking forward to hopefully checking that off the box of things to do."

The No. 54 team is second in the owner point standings. It trails Team Penske's No. 22 entry that swept the Nationwide Series races last year at Kentucky Speedway with Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney. Tonight, the Penske Ford will be driven by Michael McDowell.

Knockout qualifying begins at 4 p.m. and a 43-car field will take the green flag at 7:45 p.m.