With the announcement last week that Shell/Pennzoil would replace Mobil 1 backing on Penske Racing's NASCAR team next season, speculation began about the future of Sam Hornish Jr., who has struggled since switching from Penske's IndyCar team to its NASCAR squad in a Mobil-sponsored car, and is currently in the final year of his three-year deal with the team. However, car owner Roger Penske reiterated at Talladega that he plans to keep the former Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champ in his Sprint Cup stable in 2011. The team is confident it can find additional backing for Hornish's No. 77, with the Shell sponsorship set to go to Kurt Busch's new No. 22 and the Miller Lite No. 2 entry set to be driven by Brad Keselowski next year.
“Our plan is to run three cars next year and Sam is in that program,” Penske told Scene Daily. “We're planning on it."
Penske said he feels Hornish's progress is better than his results have shown. Hornish finished 35th in the points in 2008 and 28th last year. He currently is ranked 28th again after nine races this season, without a top-10 finish.