KANSAS CITY, Kan. (September 28, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, overcame a pit road penalty and a late-race, on-track incident to finish Sunday afternoon’s Camping World RV 400 presented by Coleman at Kansas Speedway in 33rd place. The No. 77 team remains 37th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner points standings, 66 points outside of the top-35.
Once racing action began at the 1.5-mile oval, Hornish provided the Penske Truck Rental team with constant feedback on the race car. By lap 28, the No. 77 had progressed from “free” on exit to loose-handling on entry and exit while tight in the center of the corners.
The first round of green flag pit stops began nearly 50 laps into the 267-lap event. Running in the 32nd position, Hornish came to pit road on lap 50 for four tires, fuel, track bar, air pressure and wedge adjustments. Hornish received a “pass-through” penalty for a speed violation upon entering pit road. Once the penalty was served and pit stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in 42nd place, one lap down to the leaders.
Several laps later, Hornish relayed to the team that the Penske Truck Rental machine was still too tight in the center of the corners but noted that the race car handled better overall while running the lower line on the track.
Hornish was running in 42nd place and was in danger of falling an additional lap down to the leaders when a fortunate caution flag waved on lap 74. He came to pit road on lap 77 for four fresh tires, fuel, a right-side track bar adjustment and the removal of one-half of a spring rubber from the right-rear spring. Hornish restarted the race on lap 79 in 39th place, running one lap down to the leaders.
The No. 77 machine was much improved on the restart but became progressively more loose-handling with each lap. When yet another caution came out on lap 93, Hornish was posted in 36th place and agreed with the Penske Truck Rental crew that they needed to find a way to make the adjustments to the race car last longer under green flag conditions.
Hornish came to pit road on lap 96 for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race in 37th place.
When the caution was displayed on lap 117 for an accident in turn three, Hornish was running 34th and noted to the team that the tight-handling condition in the center of the corners had gotten worse. He pitted for four tires, fuel, track bar and wedge adjustments, restarting the race in 37th place on lap 121.
A couple of caution periods occurred over the next ten laps and crew chief Travis Geisler instructed Hornish not to pit in order to gain spots in the running order and put the No. 77 in position to race for the “free pass” as the first car one lap down should a caution be displayed.
When the race restarted on lap 133, Hornish was posted in 35th place. He quickly passed the car in front of him and advanced into the “lucky dog” position in the event of a caution. However, a long green flag run ensued and Hornish pitted under green flag conditions on lap 175. The Penske Truck Rental Dodge ran out of gas as Hornish pulled into the pits for four tires, fuel and adjustments. The No. 77 Dodge had to be re-fired, costing the team time on pit road. When green flag pit stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in 37th place, running one lap down to the leaders.
When another caution flag waved with 50 laps to go, Hornish was running in 35th place, two laps down to the leaders. Only 16 cars remaining on the lead lap. Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel, a right-rear wedge adjustment and the removal of another one-half of a spring rubber from the right-rear spring. He restarted the race on lap 222 in 34th place.
On lap 225, the No. 55 machine of Michael Waltrip came up the track into the No. 77, causing both cars to spin. Hornish caught the momentum of the spin and was able to straighten out the car on the track, but the incident required that he come to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel under caution. He restarted the race in 35th place.
When the checkered flag fell, Hornish crossed the start/finish line in 33rd place, two laps down to race winner Jimmie Johnson.
“The Penske Truck Rental Dodge was good for quite a few runs,” said Hornish after the 400.5-mile event concluded. “I hurt us early with the speeding penalty on the entry to pit road. I had all four tires locked up trying to get stopped, but there was a bunch of oil dry down there and I’m not sure exactly what happened. The other problem was that we ran it out of fuel so we’ve got something that we need to check into there. Other than that, we’re pretty happy with today’s race.”
Penske Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch finished the race in 16th and 30th place, respectively.
Hornish and the Mobil 1 team head to Talladega Superspeedway for the AMP Energy 500 on October 5, 2008. Race coverage will air live on the ABC television network at 1 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio beginning at 1:15 p.m. EDT.