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Friday, September 20, 2013
Focusing on title the way to go

By Sam Hornish Jr.
Special to ESPN.com

It's getting to be that time of year again -- Silly Season, which is aptly named since it is silly to start getting too concerned about next year when we still have a lot of work to do this year.

Here in the NASCAR Nationwide Series we have seven races to go. Those seven races mean 12 plane trips, six hotels, a bunch of practices, seven qualifying sessions, a bunch of green-white-checkers, and a whole lot of life and family time away from the track.

Yeah, I know that we always want to know what's next, and I realize that it is all part of the show, too. We (the team and I) are starting to get questions about next year and the truth is we aren't sure what next year is going to look like just yet. That's OK, too. We have so much to do right now.

We are leading the Nationwide Series standings, and we have been for much of the season.

Sam Hornish Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr. and his crew are seven races away from winning the Nationwide Series title if he can hang on to the points lead.

We have a race this Saturday at Kentucky (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNews & WatchESPN). This means giving all of our focus to each practice run. It takes everything we have to understand what our Alliance Truck Parts Ford needs to go fast. Each time I get that Mustang on the track I have to be 100 percent focused on the track conditions, who are out there with me, the line or lines I am driving and what the car feels, sounds and even smells like.

If I am thinking about anything other than what I have to do while driving and what I have to tell my guys about the race car, well, we are going to be slow, or we are going to be wrecked.

This mindset and focus applies to practice, to qualifying and then to the race. We have to know what our car needs to go fast. We have to know what it will do as the track conditions change. We have to choose a suitable pit box for the race, and then we have to be as near to perfect as possible to have a shot at winning the race because the competition is so tough and one mistake is often the difference between first and fifth.

That's how racing is, and that's how life is, too, I guess. It is so easy to get caught up in what's next that we don't do our best with right now. If you don't make the best of right now then your options for what's next may not be as good as if you did, and you are not likely to be very happy knowing you didn't take your best shot.

So that's what we are doing right now.

We are grateful for this opportunity to race this weekend, and for the chance we have to win this championship. We are putting all of our energy, our focus and our desire into doing our best each time we touch our race car. We are not going to compromise this moment by spending it worrying about tomorrow or next year. If we give our best to this moment, this day and this race, well, the rest will take care of itself. It always does.

One of the reasons I love racing is that you know where you are and how you are doing every day. In school, you get two to four report cards a year. You may only get one review a year at your job, but in racing you know after each practice, each qualifying session and each race exactly where you stand. It can be one of the greatest feelings ever, or it can be devastating, but there is no doubt.

The only thing you can question is whether or not you gave your absolute best. The only way to give your absolute best is to be 100 percent committed to this moment.

So we will leave the thoughts of next year to those who can afford to have them. Right now we have a championship to win, and that is an opportunity that we are grateful to have.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading!

Sam Hornish Jr. drives the No. 12 Ford Mustang for Penske Racing. He will share his thoughts on and off the track with ESPN.com readers periodically this season. Follow him on Twitter @samhornish and on Facebook.