Sam Hornish Jr. Talks to Whatifsports.com About JJ, Danica, and Daytona

Jake WestrichSenior Writer IFebruary 12, 2010

Love is in the air this Valentine's Day weekend.

That is as long as you avoid the Daytona Beach area.

Two topics have hovered over Sam Hornish's trailer the past week like a flock of vultures.

Neither has to do with candlelight dinners or chocolate covered strawberries.

Actually, the constant questions about Hornish's current relationship with Jimmie Johnson have quickly turned into a high school gossip session in the hallway.

"That could have all been handled if he would have just come and talked to me instead of talking to the media about it," Hornish told Whatifsports.com. "There was nothing for me to go and apologize to Jimmie for. I got hit by somebody else."

David Reutimann has accepted blame for causing the wreck that sent Hornish into the Cup champion's car last Nov.

"When you have the four-time champion thinking about you instead of the other stuff, you have to feel good about that, at least a little bit," Hornish said.

Danica Patrick's decision to leave her Indy Racing League career in the dust with, albeit with one career win, may be a bit premature.

Hornish made the jump after capturing three IndyCar Series championships. He was quoted earlier in the week about how different Patrick's ARCA tuneup will be compared to her first encounter with the Nationwide series.

"The jump from ARCA to Nationwide, I think, is a lot of times as big as going from Nationwide to the Cup series, if not more."

Hornish is leaving his trailer door open if Patrick wants to come pick his brain about her new career in a stock car.

"If she wants to come and ask me a question, she will," Hornish told Whatifsports.com. "I have enough things to do on my own; I don't need to put my nose in other people's stuff."

As for his "stuff", Hornish has some work to do after his Mobile 1 Dodge had some engine issues during Thursday's Gatorade Duels at Daytona.

"The car was handling really well," Hornish said. "We were able to run third with three laps to go when we had the engine problem."

The 77-car dropped from third to 26th in the duels. Hornish managed to qualify, but will start from the back of the pack in the 36 slot.

Hornish's starting position in Sunday's Daytona 500 is nothing new. The young driver from Ohio's view from the back when the white flag waives has been a trend over the past two seasons and yet Hornish sees the glass half full heading into NASCAR's Super Bowl.

"It's a good thing (Daytona) is 500 miles because it will give us plenty of time to move forward (to the front of the pack)," Hornish said. "I feel like we have the confidence. We just need to get the consistency."

Hornish, mimicking his shy demeanor, quietly raced his way into a name to keep an eye out for in 2009. He won the Spring Showdown during the All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway to notch his first NASCAR victory.

At season's end, he had racked up two top-five and seven top 10 finishes. Not too bad for a guy only in his sophomore season.

His efforts on the track last season are forcing he and his team to up the ante and their goals for 2010.

"Top 15 is really what we are looking for, that would be a good year for us," Hornish said. "We need to continue to progress. We are headed in the right direction in a lot of ways."

For "Sideways Sam's" sake, hopefully that direction is straight. Right J.J.?

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Ryan Fowler is the Digital Content Manager for Whatifsports.com and can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.


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