Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dumb Move of the Day.

It's official. Sam Hornish Jr. is switching to NASCAR. After failing to qualify for six NASCAR races this year, why not go for the big bucks and try it full time?

I really don't understand this at all. I know that the earnings potential is greater in NASCAR, and open-wheel racing in this country is in perpetual Limbo, but consider the history:

1) Hornish is the most successful and consistent active driver in IndyCar Racing, with the best team. He could win the Indy 500 and the IRL championship as many times as he wants.

2) All of his previous closed-wheel (or tin-top, for you Brits) excursions have been spectacular flops (see picture above). Did I mention the six failed qualifying attempts?

Hornish is optimistic about the move, and feels that he can do well (provided he makes the field, eh?).
""I am a much better racer than I am a qualifier, and if I can just get in, I
feel confident I can figure it out.""

Uh, Sammy? Look at the picture again, please. Getting in is easier said than done, too, as you well know by now. Never fear, though, the NASCAR rules favor in this regard: Penske can use his owner points earned by Kurt Busch to guarantee Hornish at least five starts. Naturally, that should be enough to get started with. Again, the optimism:
""People always ask me why Montoya has been so successful, and the easy thing to
say is because he had the points," Hornish said. "He had those first five races
and he was automatically guaranteed to get that seat time.""

But Montoya is something that Hornish is not: a true racer in the old style, like Tony Stewart; these guys can drive fast in anything, much like drivers of the '60s. Men like A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Jim Clark, and Mario Andretti could race, and win, in anything.

Maybe with some extended seat time he'll get the hang of it, or he could get lucky(car number 77, you see). But I just can't see how this is a good move right now.

One good thing, though, is that now there's a seat open on the top open-wheel team. Prospects will be circling like sharks, so here's my suggestion: give the media a real story and give this deserving driver a chance.

(h/t Jalopnik)

Link to image source.