Three-time IndyCar Series champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish, Jr., delved deeper into the NASCAR experience during a Penske Racing test at Kentucky Speedway today.

"We came out today to just get a little test time in on a mile-and-a-half. I hadn't run a 'COY' (Car of Yesterday), as they call it, and we plan to try to run Charlotte and Miami, so we're trying to get a little test time in," he said.

The 28-year-old Defiance, Ohio driver completed his eighth IndyCar Series season ranked fifth in the championship standings after taking a win, eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes through 17 events. He has yet to announce his 2008 racing plans.

"We haven't decided what we're going to do yet. The big thing for me is to continue to wait a little bit and get to the point where I feel like I have a good head on my shoulders as far as making the decision," Hornish, Jr., said. "We'll make it when that time comes. The best thing about it is that I've not had to make that decision yet."

Progress made during today's test on a track where he's earned two wins along with a total of four top-five and six top-10 IndyCar Series finishes through eight career starts may help shape his upcoming career decision.

"A lot of the tracks we're going to (in the stock car) I've been to before and there are some that I haven't. I've run IndyCar, Busch and ARCA cars here. Now, it's a Cup car. About the only thing left is a Car of Tomorrow. It's been a lot of fun.

"It's all about getting more seat time and getting more comfortable in the car. Stock cars have a lot more travel and a softer suspension, so you don't feel the bumps as much. The IndyCar kind of beats you up a little more. As far as the sensation of speed, there's not much of difference. When you're at the edge, you're at the edge. It doesn't matter whether you're going 220 or 170 mph, it all feels the same."

Hornish, Jr., showed promise in his earlier stock car appearances this season by delivering his best of six NASCAR Busch Series performances with a 15th-place Atlanta Motor Speedway showing March 17 and a second-place ARCA RE/MAX Series finish at Michigan International Speedway June 15.

He experimented with NEXTEL Cup Series machines the past two weeks and missed the New Hampshire field by 0.114 of a second. He qualified 42nd for the Dover International Speedway race before his car was bounced from the grid by four slower cars guaranteed spots in the event based on owner's points.

"The only thing we knew was that it was going to be tough trying to qualify at two tracks I'd never been to before. You get an hour-and-a-half of practice and you're expected to go out and qualify. It's tough, but that's part of the challenge," he said.

He hopes his desire to meet that challenge leads to his NEXTEL Cup Series debut before the end of the 2007 season.

"We've been close to making it both times. We know what we've done wrong and what are problems have been. Hopefully, we'll get all that figured out, start making a couple of these races, and get some real seat time," he said.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~