Commentary

Proud to play a small role in historic day for Penske Racing

Sam Hornish Jr. was pretty proud of his day at the Daytona 500. He writes in his dairy he was even prouder of the day turned in for owner Roger Penske by teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch.

Updated: February 27, 2008, 2:53 PM ET
By Sam Hornish Jr. | Special to ESPN.com

One question I was asked a lot in Daytona was why I decided to make the move to NASCAR.

[+] EnlargeSam Hornish Jr.
Fernando Medina/US PresswireSam Hornish Jr. came in a respectable 15th in th4e Daytona 500. His Penske teammates finished 1-2.

For me, this seemed like the next challenge in my life. I have already achieved more in the IndyCar Series than I ever thought I would with three championships and an Indianapolis 500 win.

I truly feel I have accomplished all that I can over here. I would definitely like to run more Indy races in the future, but I am excited to see what I can achieve in NASCAR.

As a kid I can remember waiting for two races every year: the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. I would've never imagined that I would be a driver in both of those prestigious events. We had an incredible night as an organization on Sunday with my teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch finishing first and second.

To be part of Penske Racing's first Daytona 500 victory, no matter how small my role, meant so much to me.

Now Roger Penske finally has a Daytona 500 win to go with his 14 Indianapolis 500 victories.

As for my first Daytona 500, I was so excited for the race. It was a good day for us. The first 100 laps were really good because we ran inside the top 10. I made a mistake on pit road when I slid out of the pit box a little, and it cost us some time.

We restarted further back than we wanted, but we were able to overcome it and work our way back to the front.

I really think we would have had a better finish if the race had ended in the daylight. Our car was that good. I probably cost us a few positions when I made a move with a few laps to go, and no one went with me.

That's just part of having the yellow stripe on the back of the car. It's a learning process, and I know there is much more for me to learn.

I know there will be lots of challenges ahead this season. The IndyCar and Sprint Cup cars are so different.

The only thing similar between Indy cars and stock cars is that both have four wheels and an engine. My focus this year is to get experience, learn as much as I can and earn the respect of the other drivers. I would be happy with a solid top-20 finish each week.

We have a lot of momentum heading to California, and I am looking forward to getting back on track. I've been able to spend some time at home this week with my wife, Crystal, and my baby daughter, Addison. I was up with Addison the other night, and we watched the replay of the Daytona 500. Well, I watched it, and it was exciting to see the night Penske Racing had overall.

Sam Hornish Jr., 28, drives the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger. He will take ESPN.com readers inside his life on and off the track each week with the help of writer Angelique S. Chengelis.