Hornish shows speed in All-Star race

Sam Hornish Jr enjoyed probably his most competitive outing in NASCAR on Saturday night finishing seventh in the Sprint All-Star Challenge after being a lap down in the early part of the event

Hornish shone first in the Sprint Showdown, which qualified him for the main event of the day after he finished second behind AJ Allmendinger. The former Indy 500 winner said he was running a conservative race though, because he was racing what will be his backup car for next weekend's Coca-Cola 600.

"The biggest thing that was really keeping me back a little bit was the fact that we have a car that was our backup car for next weekend and you never know what might happen and you might need it and we feel that we've got two very good cars," said Hornish after the Sprint Showdown.

Then from the back of the grid in the All-Star Challenge he started moving up until he hit the wall, although not hard enough to finish his day. He then had to pit for a flat tyre and an overheating engine, dropping off the lead lap.

"I went down into that turn and I was right behind the 42 car (Montoya)", he said. "He'd been running the bottom and he moved up and it was either me go up in the marbles and try to keep from crashing or run over him.

"I did what I thought was the right thing to do and I had to move up a little bit and I got in the marbles and got the back end which drug the front."

Once Hornish was back on the same lap as the leaders, thanks to the scheduled caution period at the end of the first segment, he regained his momentum and ran very strong in the final 25 laps, moving from 14th all the way to seventh place, passing other cars that had led the race earlier.

"I thought we had a car that was capable of running in the top-ten here; once we got out there running I think we had one that was capable of winning," Hornish added. "We were really good.

"I think we would have probably passed about 15 in the first segment if we hadn't got up there and got into the wall and then we would have been able to take our time from then on out."

Hornish says Saturday's result brings confidence to him and his team about the progress they're making in their debut season in the Sprint Cup Series. He says they just need some good luck to start making solid steps.

"We keep trying to advance all the time and we think we're heading in the right direction and we just need to get the monkey off our back and get a little bit more luck," he said.

"I'm just really, really blessed that I got to come down here and be part of the All-Star race. It's one of the coolest things I've ever done, that's for sure."

The former IndyCar Series champion will have to qualify on speed next week to make the field for the Coca-Cola 600.

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