Sam Hornish Jr. has secured a full-season return to racing in NASCAR's Nationwide Series in 2012.
The former Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time Indy Racing League champion has been signed by Penske Racing to take charge of the #12 Dodge Challenger for the upcoming 33-race championship.
After leaving open wheel-racing at the end of a disappointing 2007 season, Hornish competed in three seasons in NASCAR's Sprint Cup championship for Penske but was left without a regular ride in stock cars in 2011. He ran in only one Cup race in 2011 but had 13 Nationwide outings, which included leading team mate Brad Keselowski home to a Penske 1-2 at Phoenix International Raceway in November.
“I'm really excited about this season. Last year was a little difficult to say the least,” Hornish told reporters on the last day of NASCAR's Sprint Media Tour when it arrived at Penske Racing's headquarters in Mooresville, NC. "I was able to learn a lot last year. I just feel like we've got a lot of things going for us."
Hornish's season is being backed financially by a 22-race commitment from Alliance Truck Parts and by a seven-race primary sponsorship from automotive and industrial supply business WURTH Group. It will be WURTH's first involvement in North American motorsport, following on from 30 years of sponsorship of European competition including F1 and DTM.
"We are really excited to bring WURTH into the NASCAR Nationwide Series," said Hornish. "I am grateful that they have joined our team because it is their support that makes it possible for us to run for the championship this year.
"We know that they will be a great partner to Penske Racing."
Richard Petty Motorsports put Michael Annett into Nationwide
Richard Petty Motorsports has formed a new Nationwide Series team in order to back Michael Annett for a shot at the 2012 championship.
"To have the chance to race for Richard Petty and to be under the RPM umbrella is amazing," said Annett. "This is the best opportunity I have ever had to race a Nationwide Series car. There's a lot to be done before we get to Daytona in a few weeks and I can't wait to dive in and get started."
Annett was left without a 2012 ride when his former team, Rusty Wallace Inc., announced that it was shutting down its Nationwide Series activity. Annett finished in ninth position in the Nationwide standings last year, his best result in three seasons of racing in NASCAR's second-tier championship.
"It has all come together really quickly ... We were left scrambling a bit because of the situation with RWI and were unsure what the future held, but I couldn't be happier with the way things have turned out," admitted Annett. "They say that when one door closes, another door opens, and that is most definitely true."