DOVER, Del. (September 26, 2010) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 36th in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday after an electrical issue forced the No. 77 team to retire early from the race.
After starting the 400-lap race from the 21st spot, Hornish radioed to the Mobil 1 team that the car rolled through the center of the corners nicely, but it was a bit tight-handling in the center of the turns. When the caution flag was displayed on lap 37, Hornish maintained the 21st position and came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He restarted the race in 23rd place.
As the race progressed, the Mobil 1 machine developed a more substantial tight-handling condition. On lap 100, Hornish ran in the 30th spot as the leaders closed in quickly behind him. On lap 118, the Mobil 1 team made a scheduled green-flag pit stop for four tires and fuel, along with track bar and air pressure adjustments. A previous wedge adjustment was also reversed as the team tried to improve the handling of the No. 77 Dodge. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish remained in 30th place, positioned one lap down to the leaders.
Shortly thereafter, Hornish noticed an unexpected vibration on the Mobil 1 Dodge. He came to pit road under green flag conditions on lap 154, as well as on lap 159, to the attention of his crew. He ultimately rejoined the race in 35th place, as he ran six laps down the leaders.
Despite the lap deficit facing the No. 77 team, both Hornish and the crew continued to work hard to improve the Mobil 1 Dodge as the race neared its conclusion. Just 51 laps from the finish, the Mobil 1 machine lost power on track and Hornish was forced to coast to pit road. While in the pit stall, smoke began to fill the cockpit and the team was forced to the garage to further assess the situation. It was discovered that an electrical problem under the dash of the car caused a battery cable to deteriorate which ignited a small fire. Unfortunately, the team was not able to complete the race and Hornish finished in the 36th position.
“Today was a bad day that turned worse,” said Hornish. “I thought that we started out pretty good, but we never could gain the track position that we needed. I thought that we had a tire issue in the middle of the race and had to come to pit road under the green flag. That cost us some laps. Late in the race, we had an electrical problem under the dash which caused the battery cable to ground out and started a small fire. It was just a really strange deal that cost us in the end."
Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski finished the race in fourth and 22nd place, respectively.
Still ranked 27th in the driver point standings, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team head to Kansas Speedway next weekend for the Price Chopper 400 on Sunday, October 3, 2010. Racing action will air live on the ESPN television network beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. The race will also be broadcast live on MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio.