Hornish Finishes 30th in Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway

May 10, 2009

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 9, 2009) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 30th in the Southern 500 presented by GoDaddy.com at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night. The No. 77 team now sits 31st in the 2009 owner point standings.

After an impressive qualifying result on Friday, Hornish rolled off the starting grid in fourth place. He reported that the Mobil 1 Dodge was too tight-handling overall when the second caution of the race came out on lap 20. Posted in third place, Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments. With many competitors opting for two-tire pit stops, Hornish restarted the race in the 18th position.

By lap 50, Hornish was running 13th and relayed that the tight-handling condition remained on the Mobil 1 machine. The caution flag waved once again just as green flag pit stops were about to begin on lap 75 and Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment. He restarted the race in 16th place.

On lap 118, Hornish was involved in a single-car spin in turn 2. He brought the Mobil 1 Dodge to pit road and the team serviced the car with four fresh tires and fuel. He returned to the pits just before the restart for a quick adjustment and another splash of fuel. Hornish restarted the race in 33rd place, one lap down to the leaders.

At the midpoint of the 367-lap event, Hornish was posted in the 30th spot and continued to battle a tight-handling car. After a series of caution periods, Hornish was the recipient of the “free pass” when the yellow flag was displayed on lap 248. He returned to lead-lap racing in 22nd place.

Hornish and the Mobil 1 team were running 13th when the No. 77 spun once again on lap 289. No caution flag was shown, and after coming to pit road or fresh tires, Hornish rejoined the race in 27th place, running two laps down to the leaders.

On lap 315, Hornish hit the wall and was forced to the garage for repairs. He returned to the race in order to gain as many points as possible. Hornish took the checkered flag in 30th place, 23 laps down to race winner Mark Martin.

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and David Stremme finished the race in 16th place and 24th place, respectively.

“It was a long night for sure,” said Hornish. “We had a good car to start out the race but we got a little behind on some adjustments. Then we got back in traffic and were trying to play with the line in turn 2 and just spun our Mobil 1 Dodge around and it took almost 150 laps to get our lap back. We got turned around when a couple of guys got together and had to pit under green because the yellow flag didn’t come out. The car freed up after the pit stop and I ended up in the wall again with a lot of damage and that sent us to the garage.”

Hornish and the Mobil 1 team hope to repeat last year’s standout performance in the Sprint Showdown/All-Star Race next weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 16, 2009. Racing action will air live on SPEED with the Sprint Showdown beginning at 7 p.m. EDT and the All-Star Race beginning at 8:30 p.m. The races will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio starting at 6:45 p.m. EDT.