Hornish Scores First Sprint Cup Series Top-10 at Phoenix

April 19, 2009

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 18, 2009) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, earned his first Sprint Cup Series top-10 finish with a ninth-place showing in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night.

After starting the race in 35th place, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team worked to fine-tune the No. 77 machine throughout the race, at times posting the fastest lap times on track. The finish marks the best result for Hornish at NASCAR’s elite level.

Shortly after the start of 312-lap event, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team set to the task of advancing through field. On lap 20, Hornish relayed that the car was loose-handling on entry in the corners and tight-handling all the way through turns 3 and 4. Halfway through the first run, Hornish noted that the tight condition was the biggest problem hampering speed on the Mobil 1 machine.

When the first caution of the race came out on lap 54, the No. 77 crew prepared to make much-needed adjustments the race car. Hornish pitted for four tires, fuel, air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 59 and was posted 32nd in the running order.

When the caution flag waved once again on lap 101, Hornish was running in 30th place. He reported that the Mobil 1 Dodge was handling much better in the entry and exit of the corners but the No. 77 car was still tight in the center of the turns. Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments and he restarted the race in 29th place.

By lap 125, Hornish reported that he was happy with the Mobil 1 machine and was steadily passing competitors on track. Another caution came out near the midpoint of the race and the Mobil 1 team opted not to pit in order to gain track position. Hornish moved up to 21st place at the race restart.

Hornish continued to report that the Mobil 1 Dodge was much improved and with 100 laps to go he was running in the 17th position. When the only green flag pit stops of the race began with just over 75 laps to go, Hornish was running inside the top-15. He came to pit road for service on lap 242 in 10th place and the No. 77 crew went to work with four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments on the Mobil 1 machine. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in the 15th spot.

As racing action began to wind down, Hornish continued to advance through the field, at times as the fastest car on the track, and he ultimately secured an impressive ninth-place finish.

The No. 77 team remained 31st in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series owner point standings, just 69 points outside of the 25th position.

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and David Stremme finished the race in third place and 18th place, respectively.

“It was a real good run for the Mobil 1 team tonight,” said Hornish. “ I said yesterday that I thought we had a really good racecar. I was right about that. I’m really proud of these guys that work on the Mobil 1 Dodge. They really put a lot of work into it. I’ve said before that if we keep narrowing it down changing pieces of the puzzle and trying to get all the right people in the right places, we could be competitive.

“We’ve run a lot better than we finished this season and should have had three or four top-10 finishes so far this year. I wouldn’t have expected it to happen at Phoenix as hard a time as I had getting around here last year. I’m really happy that it happened here because I have a lot of fond memories of this track.”

Hornish and the No. 77 team head to Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday, April 26, 2009. Racing action will air live on the FOX television network beginning at 1 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN starting at 1:15 p.m. EDT.