CONCORD, N.C. (October 9, 2012) - Sam Hornish Jr. is looking forward to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' return to intermediate tracks in this weekend's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After strong performances were not matched by solid finishes in his last three races, Hornish is ready to change that trend. He looks for needed consistency to come back to his Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team in Saturday night's battle.
"We've had three straight weeks where our Dodge Chargers were certainly much stronger than what the results showed," Hornish said of his 21st-place finish at New Hampshire, 25th at Dover and 24th in last Sunday's Talladega race. "We're really looking forward to getting back to Charlotte this weekend. We've been able to have the strong runs and get equally strong finishes on the intermediate tracks and overcame adversity to do so. We're hoping to continue our strong performances at Charlotte on Saturday night."
Hornish was able to post 11th-place finishes in the most recent intermediate track races at Atlanta (Sept. 2 Advocare 500) and Chicagoland (Geico 400). The solid finishes were recorded even after having to overcome a late-race incident at Atlanta and a speeding penalty at Chicagoland.
"We're hoping to have an incident-free weekend at Charlotte," Hornish offered. "We've had some solid cars in the races on the mile-and-a-half tracks - cars strong enough to run well up in the top 10. We know that if we continue to do that, the top-five and top-10 finishes are right around the corner.
"One thing is for sure and that's the importance of running well on these tracks," said Hornish. "Of the six races remaining this season, we're headed to Charlotte, Kansas, Texas and Homestead before the year is through. If we can get the consistency going, we can definitely end our 2012 season on a high note."
While Saturday night's Bank of America 500 will mark Hornish's seventh career Sprint Cup start at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his fond recollections of racing there date back to his childhood.
"I'll always have a lot of special memories of racing as a teenager in the karts on that little track over in Turn 3 of the big track," Hornish said of his World Karting Association days that date back to 1993. Hornish was a multiple WKA U.S. and Canadian Grand National Championship winner before progressing to Formula Fords and the Toyota Atlantic Series.
"We raced there in the Formula Fords with a pretty cool track layout," Hornish recalled. "We ran the oval, but they added a chicane to slow us down and make it more interesting and challenging."
In his six prior Sprint Cup starts at CMS, Hornish has a 22.8 average start and a 24.7 average finish. His 14th-place start in the May 2010 race and 13th-place finish in the May 2008 race rate as his best numbers to date. Hornish won the May 16, 2009 Sprint Showdown at CMS, leading the final 15 laps and emerging as the victor by 4.338 seconds over runner-up Jamie McMurray. In his career's four NASCAR Nationwide Series races at CMS entering Friday night's Dollar General 300, Hornish has an 8.0 average start and an 18.0 average finish. His fifth-place start and ninth-place finish in May's visit highlight his NNS numbers at CMS.
Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon is also looking forward to the return to the intermediate tracks and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"Sunday's race at Talladega was really tough to swallow," Gordon said. "We qualified 10th and Sam was able to drop back and move to the front with the best of them. He had the high lane working for him until the ‘big one' bit us on the last lap. We've put it all behind us and are focusing on being contenders to win in the final six races of the season.
"We had solid top-10 runs going in the intermediate track races heading into Charlotte and had to settle for 11th-place finishes. We've been really strong on that type of track since Sam came on to drive our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge. We're confident we can have another strong performance at Charlotte this weekend.
"As for the expectations for this weekend, It's the same old challenging race track," Gordon said. "We hope to qualify well and get a good spot on pit road. We look to execute like we need to. But most of all, we hope to be able to adapt and make the necessary adjustments through the race like we have to. We have to stay on top of the changing track conditions and what it calls for chassis-wise. If we can accomplish that, we can come out of there with an excellent result."
Hornish, Gordon and the Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be utilizing the "PRS-824" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Charlotte. The 22 team raced it at Loudon in July where Hornish started 24th and finished 22nd. Before that race, it had been utilized once by teammate Brad Keselowski's Miller Lite Dodge Team. Keselowksi and his Paul Wolfe-led "Blue Deuce" crew raced the car at Richmond in the April 28 Capitol City 400. Keselowski drove from a 16th-place start to a ninth-place finish in that race. The "807" chassis will serve as the backup this weekend. It was in the 22 team transporter serving as the backup at Phoenix, both Bristol races, Martinsville and the second Richmond race. It has never seen any track time to date.
This weekend's schedule at Charlotte Motor Speedway begins on Thursday with practice from 3:30 p.m. till 5:00 p.m. Qualifying is set for 7:10 p.m. and will determine all 43 starting positions for Saturday's race (on ESPN-2). Friday's schedule calls for practice sessions from 3:00 p.m. till 3:55 p.m. and from 5:50 p.m. till 6:50 p.m. (on ESPN2). Saturday's Bank of America 500 (334 laps/501 miles) has a scheduled 7:30 p.m. ET starting time, with ABC-TV and PRN Radio providing live coverage of all the action.
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Amy Gordon, wife of Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon, is entered in Thursday night's "Better Half Dash" at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The race - pitting wives and girlfriends of NASCAR competitors, along with women working around racing - will benefit Motor Racing Outreach and Speedway Children's Charities. The Bandolero cars will race on the speedway's frontstretch quarter-mile before Thursday night's Sprint Cup pole qualifying for the Coors Light Pole Award. "Amy is really looking forward to competing in the race and giving our support to the MRO," Todd Gordon said. "We really want to thank Shell-Pennzoil for supporting Amy and this event. We hope fans will show their backing of this great cause by visiting the special site that has been set up and donating to the MRO." You can visit that site by logging on here: http://www.go2mro.com/betterhalfdash/
Sam Hornish Jr. and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be utilizing the "PRS-824" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Charlotte. The 22 team raced it at Loudon in July where Hornish started 24th and finished 22nd. Before that race, it had been utilized once by teammate Brad Keselowski's Miller Lite Dodge Team. Keselowksi and his Paul Wolfe-led "Blue Deuce" crew raced the car at Richmond in the April 28 Capitol City 400. Keselowski drove from a 16th-place start to a ninth-place finish in that race. The "807" chassis will serve as the backup this weekend. It was in the 22 team transporter serving as the backup at Phoenix, both Bristol races, Martinsville and the second Richmond race. It has never seen any track time to date.