KANSAS CITY, Kan. (October 3, 2010) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 AAA Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 36th in the Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft Foods at Kansas Speedway on Sunday after a mechanical issue forced the No. 77 team to the garage for repairs in the early goings of the 267-lap event.
After starting the race from the 18th position, Hornish radioed that the AAA Dodge was loose-handling on the exit of the corners under acceleration. Green-flag conditions prevailed over the first run of the race, and as teams began to prepare to make scheduled pit stops, the caution flag waved on lap 41 with Hornish posted in 17th place. He came to pit road for four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and track bar adjustments. Hornish restarted the race in the 16th spot.
Hornish quickly advanced in the running order and was able to move into the top 10 by lap 57. He relayed that the AAA Dodge was tight-handling in the center of the turns. As a result, he slipped slightly in the running order as the field once again prepared to make green-flag pit stops.
Hornish came to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 97 for four tires and fuel, as well as air pressure and track bar adjustments. Upon exiting the pit stall, the AAA machine failed to move and the No. 77 crew pushed the car back into the pit stall to diagnose the problem. A broken driveshaft was discovered and the AAA team pushed the disabled Dodge Charger to the garage for repairs.
The AAA crew quickly replaced the driveshaft and Hornish returned to racing action on lap 116 in 38th place, 20 laps down to the leaders. Although the group faced a substantial lap-deficit, Hornish and the AAA team made the most of a tough situation and focused on learning as much as they could on track to prepare for upcoming races this season. In doing so, not only did the No. 77 crew hope to better themselves for the final races of the season, but also provide assistance to teammate Kurt Busch and the Miller Lite team as they compete for the Cup Series Championship.
Hornish remained on track until the checkered flag waved, crossing the start finish line in 36th-place, 22 laps down to race winner Greg Biffle.
Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski finished the race in 13th and 23rd place, respectively.
“We had our ups and downs today,” said Hornish. “It’s unfortunate for the AAA Dodge. We had a drive shaft issue. It seems like we’re getting the fluke things that never seem to happen to anybody else. Hopefully, we’re getting them all out of the way where there’s nothing left that can happen to us for the rest of the season.
“We were too free at the beginning, fell back a couple of positions, but when the tires came up, we could go. We got the car too tight on the first pit stop. That didn’t work, so I realized alright, I’ve got to drive it free. That’s what it wanted and that’s how it was fast. Hopefully, what we learned will help us for California.”
Now ranked 28th in the driver point standings, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team head to Auto Club Speedway next weekend for the Pepsi Max 400 on Sunday, October 10, 2010. Racing action will air live on the ESPN television network beginning at 3 p.m. EDT. The race will also be broadcast live on MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio.