Hornish not interested in replacing Franchitti

HOMESTEAD, FLA. (AP) - Sam Hornish Jr. crossed off every goal in IndyCar before leaving the series for NASCAR.

With three championships and an Indianapolis 500 victory, he felt there was nothing left for him to achieve.

Now, with one of the best seats in the series suddenly open, Hornish hasn’t changed his mind.

Hornish said Friday he has no interest in returning to IndyCar to replace Dario Franchitti at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Hornish said the team reached out to his representatives this week when Franchitti was told by doctors he can no longer race because of the risk of injury is too great.

“I expressed I was very grateful even for the call,” Hornish said. “A door opens and the reason still stands to not do it. It’s just any time I’ve had a thought or thought about that at all, it’s been like very minimal.”

The No. 10 is one of the best seats in IndyCar, and Franchitti won 12 races and three consecutive titles when he joined Ganassi in 2008 after a brief stint in NASCAR. Franchitti and Hornish practically crossed paths as Hornish made the full-time jump to NASCAR that same year.

He isn’t looking back, even though he heads into Saturday’s final Nationwide Series race of the season with no job lined up for 2014.

Could he change his mind?

“If I’m sitting at home for a while and I just got to go hop into a race car like, I’m beating myself up, I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve said it a million times: I did everything over there that I wanted to do, and way more. The only goal I had when I started racing was to go to the Indianapolis 500. I look at that as a chapter in my life.

“I also have the responsibility to do the best I can to take care of my wife and kids. If I had a huge mortgage or amount of debt I had to pay off, I might think about it. But the situation I’m in financially, it allows me to be able to wait and try to make something work over here.”

And that’s been Hornish’s goal since he made the switch with team owner Roger Penske.

It’s been a struggle from the start _ he had eight top-10 finishes and led just 55 laps in three years _ and he was out of a ride in 2011 when Penske ran out of sponsorship for his project. Hornish ran just 14 races, only one in the Sprint Cup Series, that entire year and desperately tried to get back into a race car.

His shot came when Penske began piecing together sponsorship packages. There was enough money for 20 Cup races in 2012 and a full Nationwide Series schedule, and another full Nationwide schedule this year.

It’s paid off as Hornish goes into the finale trailing Austin Dillon by eight points in the championship race.

Win or lose the title, he’s likely done driving for Penske. The team owner told Hornish he needs to be racing in the Cup Series and he doesn’t have a spot for his longtime driver.

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