MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 18, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 4 Penske Truck Rental Dodge Ram in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in conjunction with Bobby Hamilton Racing, had an impressive series debut, capturing a ninth-place finish Saturday in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
In a day full of on-track activity, as he was pulling “double duty” in the Truck Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Hornish qualified the Penske Racing Dodge Ram in the 16th position on Saturday morning. After two subsequent Cup Series practice sessions, Hornish strapped in for 200 laps at the “paperclip” shaped oval.
Once racing action began, Hornish radioed crew chief Chris Carrier that the Penske Truck Rental Dodge was tight-handling on the exit of the corners. The first of nine cautions flags waved on lap 34 for a single-car accident in turn four. Running in 20th place, Hornish came to pit road for his only stop of the day, taking fuel while also making a track bar adjustment. He restarted the race on lap 39 in the 15th spot.
When the No. 99 truck spun on the frontstretch on lap 55, it was directly in front of Hornish. In a display of strong driving, Hornish went high on track and barely avoided the spinning truck. Although the incident brought out a caution, Hornish and the Penske Truck Rental team opted not to make a pit stop. Hornish took the green flag for the restart in the 14th position.
A series of cautions ensued and Hornish remained steady among the top 15 in the running order. At the mid-point of the 105.2-mile race, he was posted in 12th place on the lead lap.
The second half of the race saw five caution periods with Hornish remaining on track for the duration of the race. He once again avoided an accident that occurred directly in front of him on the backstretch at lap 146. On the restart six laps later, he lined up in 11th place, poised to work his way into the top 10 in the waning laps of the race.
With 20 laps to go, Hornish was running strong in the 12th position. The final caution of the race came out on lap 190 for an accident on the backstretch. As Hornish approached the lap 195 restart in 12th place, Carrier encouraged his driver to “look alive and go after them.”
In the final five laps of the race, Hornish picked up three spots on track, catapulting into the top 10 in the running order. He finished ninth in his first-ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck start and gained valuable experience for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, while also having a great time.
“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to race in the Penske Truck Rental Dodge Ram,” said Hornish. “I had heard that Truck Series races were fun and I had a great time out there today. I was really happy that Penske Racing and Penske Truck Rental gave me the opportunity to run this race and gain some valuable seat time at Martinsville. Hopefully, this will give us a boost in tomorrow’s Cup Series race.”