Hornish Earns Impressive Sixth-Place Finish in Richmond

May 3, 2009

RICHMOND, Va. (May 2, 2009) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, scored a career-best NASCAR finish with a sixth-place result in the Crown Royal presents the Russ Friedman 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night. It marks the second consecutive top-10 finish for Hornish in short-track competition.

After rains threatened to postpone the start of the 400-lap event, Hornish rolled the Mobil 1 Dodge off the starting grid in the 28th position. The race began under caution with the green flag displayed to the field on lap six. By lap 25, Hornish reported that the No. 77 machine was handling too tight in the center of the turns.

Despite the tight condition, Hornish raced his way into the top-20 by lap 45. Just five laps later, the Mobil 1 Dodge was one of the fastest cars on the racetrack. Hornish brought the No. 77 to pit lane during green flag pit stops on lap 95 for four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and track bar adjustments. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish was running in the 15th position.

Hornish continued to work his way toward the front of the field during the first half of the race, while the Mobil 1 crew consistently turned out strong pit stops. Hornish was running in 12th place at the midpoint of the race.

When the caution flag waved just over 10 laps later, Hornish was running 11th and he returned to pit road for right side tires and fuel. The move gained the Mobil 1 team seven spots on track as Hornish restarted the race in the fourth position.

Running solidly inside the top-10, the Mobil 1 machine suffered damage to its left front fender when the No. 29 car spun directly in front of Hornish on a restart. He was forced to come to pit road for minor repairs and subsequently fell to 19th place when racing action resumed on lap 298.

Another caution flag came out shortly thereafter and the Mobil 1 team opted not to make a pit stop. The move catapulted Hornish back to the front of the field, where he lined up fourth for the restart.

A series of late-race cautions ensued and Hornish was running seventh with just 50 laps to go. After falling to 18th in the running order due to a tight-handling condition, Hornish came to pit road for service during the last of 15 caution periods. Restarting the race in 17th place, he methodically passed competitors on track in the waning laps to capture a sixth-place finish.

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and David Stremme finished the race in 12th place and 38th place, respectively. 

 “Our Mobil 1 Dodge was outstanding pretty much all night long,” said Hornish. “I’m really proud of this Mobil 1 team and how hard they worked. I told a lot of people yesterday we had a better car than where we qualified. We got into the normal short-track stuff tonight but we were able to get out of here with another top-10 finish. 

“I like the short tracks more all the time. I wouldn’t have thought my first two top-10s would come on short tracks. I feel like I’m learning all the time. This No. 77 team is growing and getting stronger. Penske Racing as a whole is also getting stronger. It was a good day for us in the points and hopefully we’ll get ourselves a couple more spots closer to being in the top-20.”

After improving to 30th in the Cup Series driver point standings, Hornish and the No. 77 team head to the legendary Darlington Raceway for the Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com on Saturday, May 9, 2009. Racing action will air live on the FOX television network beginning at 7 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio starting at 6:30 p.m. EDT.