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Sam Hornish has some words of wisdom for Danica Patrick, on her possible move into NASCAR

  Sam Hornish's move from Indy-car to NASCAR hasn't been easy, but he's finally starting to click (Photo: IRL)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Sam Hornish Jr. is one of the few men here who has seen both sides of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, from inside an Indy-car and from inside a NASCAR stocker. And the three-time Indy-car champion is also one of the few here who understands just what a struggle it is to make the transition from those open-wheelers to these heavy boxes…and just how long the NASCAR season really is.
   And Hornish – who is finally starting to come into his own on the Sprint Cup tour, halfway through his second full season in NASCAR – says he doesn't think Danica Patrick really has the stomach for this stuff.
   "I have a hard time seeing that happening," Hornish says of the Danica-to-NASCAR saga.
    And why?
    "If you do something just for the money, you're not going to be happy," Hornish says.
    "I know she feels she already has a very busy schedule….but coming here you're automatically doubling the amount of races.
     "And I don't care what anybody says about testing rules, you can test more over here than you can in Indy-car.
     "There's just a lot more work."
    So Hornish suggests Patrick run some NASCAR races this season, Nationwide or Truck, "And see if you like it.
    "It doesn't matter what the money is, if you don't like what you're doing, you're not going to enjoy yourself."
    Already Indy/NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi has taken himself out of the running to hire Patrick.
    Maybe Roger Penske, Hornish's team owner, could put together an 'A-B-C' learning program for Patrick as he did for Ryan Newman?
    Hornish knows now just how tough this deal is.
    "I definitely look at it as a lot for me to learn," Hornish says. "But that's why I wanted to do this.
    "I had the opportunity to come over and run with a team I knew would support me, even if things didn't go as well as we wanted them to the first year.
     "I knew it was going to be difficult…but that's why I wanted to do it.
     "It is so much different than driving an Indy-car.
     "Driving a stock car is as much about what you're doing with your feet as with your hands. It's about not upsetting the car too much with the brake or too much throttle.
     "I feel we've come a long way. We've actually run a lot better than where we are in points (he's fallen to 29th after four bad finishes in his last five starts) and what some of the results have shown.
    "We just have had a lot of bad luck. If we could be at the wrong place at the wrong time, we've been there this year.
    "Hopefully we can get that out of our system."
    Hornish is not only becoming more comfortable at the wheel of a NASCAR stocker, he's also clearly more comfortable with his new world here, something that isn't always that easy.
    "I'm waiting for the 'When are you going back to Indy-car?' questions to end," Hornish concedes. "But I know that the better we do over here, the less of those questions I get.
     "I came to do this to finish out my career -- being a stock car driver.
    "For some people it's hard to believe that.
    "But I was able to achieve more than I ever thought or dreamed in Indy-car, and I left there feeling like I never have to go back. This is where I plan on being."
    After his years on the Indy-car tour as a big star, Hornish is adjusting to life in the back rows, and it's not been easy, but it has been a thrill.
    "I started in the top-15 in Indy-car…..This to me is just as big – It's still like being a kid again, walking out there and seeing all these things going on," Hornish says of the Brickyard 400 hoopla.
    "In Indy-car (in May for the 500), you're here for three weeks and you never got to see it full. We're only here three days (for the NASCAR 400 weekend)…and don't have all that time – so everything is sped up."
    It is somewhat ironic that Penske, the master of the 500, has yet to win at this track in the 400. Kurt Busch, Hornish's teammate, could make that happen Sunday; he's been running strong enough to be a threat to win nearly everywhere this season. (Now if Busch can just stay away from Jimmie Johnson for a while).
   And then there's the tire issue….which was such a big deal last summer here, but which Goodyear has apparently fixed for this 400.
    "Goodyear has spent a lot of money and a lot of time to get us what we need to go out there and race," Hornish says.
    "I got to watch Kurt test (in June here), and it had rained really hard the night before, and there was still a lot of rubber on the track (a good sign).
    "What they've done is give us a tire that puts rubber down in the groove.
    "Last year the problem was when the rubber came off the tire, it turned to powder and never stuck to anything. It was like racing on a green track the whole weekend.
     "They have a better tire, as far as putting rubber down. If it does rain, it's not going to be near the problem it was last year."

   Danica Patrick is racing IRL in Edmonton this weekend. Next summer will she be racing in NASCAR? (Photo: IRL)

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