Hornish in awe of Penske heritage

Sam Hornish Jr has expressed his awe about becoming the famed Penske team's latest driver, after being named as a replacement for the retiring Gil de Ferran yesterday (Monday)

Hornish in awe of Penske heritage

A list of former Penske drivers reads like a who's who of American single-seater legends: Rick Mears. Emerson Fittipaldi. Mario Andretti. The Unsers - Al, Al Jr. and Bobby. Danny Sullivan. Paul Tracy. Tom Sneva. Mark Donohue. Rutherford, Johncock and Bettenhausen. Hornish is honoured to be the latest name added to that list.

"I'm very happy to associated with a team that has this kind of history and success," said Hornish. "Rick Mears, Al Unser Jr. and Danny Sullivan - those were the guys I really looked up to when I was growing up. Not only was I was a fan of theirs, but I was a fan of Roger [Penske, team boss], too.

"I'm excited on one hand and nervous on the other. This is a great opportunity with a great team. The only way to find out is to jump in and swim."

Hornish was introduced Monday to employees at Penske headquarters in Pennsylvania, during an emotional ceremony that included a standing ovation for double CART champion de Ferran.

"I have some big shoes to fill," Hornish said. "Gil has a lot of credits to his name. He won two championships and the Indy 500, along with Penske's 100th win. I'll do the best I can to carry on the tradition."

Hornish, who will team with Helio Castroneves next season, didn't elaborate on details of the contract, saying only that it was a multiyear deal. He also said he will be focused only on the IRL, nixing published reports that he is being groomed for Penske's NASCAR team.

"Right now my focus is on the IRL car and getting acclimated to the team and trying to win an Indy 500," Hornish said. "That's always been my goal."

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