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The fact that Hornish has nothing lined up is shocking to three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, also a former IndyCar champion.

“I was not a Sam fan when he was in the 77 (Cup car),” Stewart said. “I believe he has earned his right to be here. His program has changed. He has totally turned around. He deserves the right to be here in a competitive car.”

And Hornish believes he should have a Cup ride next year.

“I definitely feel I belong in the Cup Series,” Hornish said. “Taking the step back was to prove what I’ve known for a long time: given the equipment, the right people around me, what I would be capable of. Because I’d been so successful on the IndyCar side, I was going to pick up the car and carry it on my back if it wasn’t good enough.

“I’m glad that I’ve had the opportunity to be able to come out here and be in it long enough to prove what I’ve known for a long time. Pacing myself back and doing what I’m capable of, not trying to carry the car, also getting the right people around me, are the biggest things that have helped me out.”

So it’s important to him that his next move continues his forward progress.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty at this point in time, but I feel as if we’ll be able to make something happen,” he said. “It’s all about trying to position me to move forward in some way. I don’t want to take any more steps backward or be in something that’s not going to give me the opportunity to go out there and be competitive and have an opportunity to at least run in the top 10.”

But could he do that in IndyCar? If he took that call from Ganassi and jumped in Franchitti’s seat? It’s been six years since he last raced in the series, so nobody is sure he’d still be the driver who won 19 races over eight seasons.

“For me to say I could go over there and it would be easy, I don’t know. I think that I could do it. I’m almost 100 percent sure,” he said. “But when the rush or the thrill or whatever you want to call it, the desire to get in that car is not there, I don’t think that I would commit to it 100 percent. Then what’s the point of it? It’d be wasting everybody’s time. I’m appreciative of all the people that called and are interested, were interested, in me doing it.

“Roger’s asked me many times. It’s just not on my career path.”