AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 15, 2009) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 17th in the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday. With the result, Hornish is now ranked 29th in the season driver point standings.
After a solid qualifying run on Friday afternoon, Hornish started the 312-lap race from the 12th position. A long green flag run ensued after the start of the race and Hornish reported that the Mobil 1 Dodge needed to turn better in the corners for the next run.
On lap 71, Hornish came to pit road during the first round of green flag stops while running in the seventh position. As the Mobil 1 machine entered the pit stall, the rear of the car snapped loose and the No. 77 was positioned on an angle. Hornish was able to pit for four fresh tires and fuel, along with air pressure and track bar adjustments. The incident cost the team valuable time on pit road, however, and when pit stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in the 20th spot.
When the first caution flag of the day was displayed on lap 114 for debris on the race track, Hornish was still running in 20th place as he prepared to come to pit road. The Mobil 1 team changed four tires, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment. Hornish lined up for the race restart still positioned in 20th place
At the midpoint of the race, Hornish was running in the 21st position on the lead lap. A multi-car melee took place directly behind Hornish on lap 170 and the Mobil 1 Dodge received minor damage as a result. Hornish came to pit road for service and repairs and restarted the race in the 21st position.
Hornish and the Mobil 1 team continued to work toward their goal of a solid top-20 finish. When the checkered flag waved, Hornish crossed the start/finish line in the 17th position, one lap down to race winner Jimmie Johnson.
Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski finished the race in sixth and 37th place, respectively.
“It was a nice day for the Mobil 1 Dodge after a couple weeks of adversity,” said Hornish. “We were able to have good patience and finish the race, which was our goal today. We were running inside the top-10 when we came in to pit and ran over some fluid entering our pit box, which slid the car around and cost us some time. Once we got back to racing, the car was consistent all day long. A lot of hard work by the Mobil 1 team all day. I’m proud of my guys.”
Hornish and the No. 77 team head to Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend for the season’s final race – the Ford 400. Racing action will air live on Sunday, November 22, 2009 on the ABC television network beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET and will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio.