Quality time: Sam Hornish Jr. takes family on memorable vacation

For most NASCAR drivers, the hectic Sprint Cup schedule makes it difficult to carve out quality time for the family. Traveling to and from the track each week, meetings at the race shop, sponsor appearances and more take drivers from city to city, often on a very detailed schedule.

However, for Richard Petty Motorsports' Sam Hornish Jr., making the time for a special family vacation was essential. So, between the Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway, the Hornish family packed up the car and hit the road for a trip it would never forget.

Traveling from northwestern Ohio, Hornish, wife Crystal and their three children headed first to Washington, D.C. and then to New York City before pulling into the "Tricky Triangle" in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The trip took the Hornish family to some of the most iconic places in the country, and when all was said and done, they logged 1,300 miles and 27 hours of total driving.

Traveling with three small kids under the age of eight is never easy, but Hornish wouldn't trade it for the world.

"As long was you're moving and moving in a direction, everyone stays pretty focused," Hornish told FOXSports.com. "As soon as you stop, that's when it got complicated."

One of the family's first stops along the way was the White House in Washington, D.C. Hornish visited the White House after winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2006, but never actually made it inside the building.

Taking the public tour, Hornish and his family enjoyed their visit.

"I was glad to finally make that happen," said Hornish. "I feel like I'm a pretty patriotic guy, and I wanted to go do that."

Once through the White House, the family toured the National Mall and the monuments that surround it. Hornish took time to appreciate the architecture and landscape of the city.

"Seeing how all that was planned out, there was no expense spared when planning it out," he said. "You have to appreciate the history of what's involved and the people that were involved in making that happen."

The biggest hit for the entire family in the D.C. area was the Smithsonian museum's large dinosaurs and other artifacts.

From Washington, D.C. the family packed up the car and headed to New York City on Wednesday. Arriving after dark, they were able to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel and see the entire city lit up in bright lights.

"The kids were staring out the window, excited to see Times Square all lit up," he said. "Staying in a hotel on the 28th floor, it was hard to get the kids to bed that night."

The next day the family rode the subway -- a first for his wife and kids -- to begin their day of sightseeing. Their trek took them to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty, but unfortunately it began to rain right after their visit.

Once back in the city, Hornish was able to take care of some business with Richard Petty Motorsports co-owner Andrew Murstein. While their dad was busy working, Crystal and the kids went to the expansive American Girl Doll store.

"The girls were pumped up about going there while dad had some business to do," he said.

With rain ruining their plans to visit Central Park, the family packed up the car once again and headed to Pocono Raceway. On Sunday, Hornish had a rough outing on the track, but the trip and quality time with his family were a nice way to put it all behind him.

"They make the good days better," he said. "I really enjoy being able to go and do things with them. It's always easier to have them there. Everything goes easier for me when they're around."

While the Sprint Cup schedule is one of the busiest and most demanding in sports, Hornish felt it was essential to take the time and spend it with his family.

"Getting to spend the full week with dad, that still means a lot to them," he said. "That means a lot to me. I try to take advantage of those things while they still want me around."