When Hope Hornish climbed behind the wheel for her first season of Pro Late Model racing, she set expectations high. That’s just how she is. As her rookie season hits the home stretch, the Defiance, OH driver feels good about the progress she’s made throughout the year and has her eye on more success in the closing months.
“I feel like the first year in Pro Late Models definitely has gone exceptionally well for it only being my second year in late models,” Hornish told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I feel I’ve put a little bit more emphasis on myself to make sure I exceeded my expectations, which I feel I’ve done. I think I’ve progressed a little better and I’m definitely excited for the end of the season. I feel like we’re at the prime time right now toward the end of the year where we’ve really gained a lot of knowledge and I feel like the team and I are really clicking together and hopefully it will allow us to get a win here in a 100 lapper.”
Hornish does have a win to her credit in 2016. It came in the JEGS Challenge 30-lap B-Main feature at Berlin Raceway in June. While the young driver still searches for Victory Lane of a main event, that win was special and showed Hornish and her Scott Neal Racing team she can get it done.
“I was excited to get a feature win in Berlin,” said Hornish. “I kind of screwed up in qualifying, but then to go and win a JEGS challenge 30 was a big confidence booster for myself and my crew, with it being my first win in a Late Model.”
As Hornish’s confidence grows, so do her performances. Despite failing to qualify for two JEGS Tour races early in the year, she’s now qualifying well and earned 10th and 12th place finishes in the last two events respectively.
“Instead of staying at one track we have been traveling to I think 14 different tracks,” said Hornish. “Before that the only track I raced late models at was Angola Motor Speedway, so to go to different places, is very difficult not only for me, but for the team prepping the cars and making sure we have time to get to the tracks. We’ve adapted well, we’ve been quick everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve finished a few races, so really it’s just the continual growth has been phenomenal and the ability to handle each challenge that has been thrown at us.”
This weekend Hornish gets to learn yet another new track and this one is no easy task. The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour hits Winchester Speedway for a 100-lap show. With its high banks and nickname as the ‘fastest half mile,’ the Ohio driver looks forward to yet another challenge.
“I’ve definitely heard it’s fast and tears up a lot of race cars and are you really sure you want to go out there and see if you can flat-foot it during qualifying,” laughed Hornish. “I’m really excited for this challenge. I’ve never been to Winchester. I’ve only seen the film and things I do to prepare for the races. I feel like Winchester will play to my strengths of being aggressive and up on the wheel and going fast. I like half mile tracks, I’m a bigger track kind of person. It’s one of the most talked about tracks in short track racing so just to be able to say I raced there, a lot of great racers have raced there, will be exciting for me. I haven’t stopped talking about it all week.”
With a half dozen races left on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour schedule, Hornish is really honing in on finishing the year strong. While she raced both Angola Motor Speedway and Baer Field Motorsports Park on a weekly basis early in the year, her focus has shifted in the final months. Also a Sophomore Political Science Major and Honors Program student at Adrian College, Hornish is concentrating on school and bringing home Rookie of the Year Honors and a top-five points finish in the JEGS Tour.
“Right now I’m focusing on the tour,” said Hornish. “We are so close in points in Rookie of the Year points and top five in points, and that’s going to be the focus point is who finished these races coming up. If we get a win that’d be great, but keeping the car in one piece and coming home with a solid finish is something I want to master, it’s something we are getting. Also at Adrian College, I’m taking max credits and that’s a lot to handle as well, and I want to exceed in both sets.”
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo