FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 3, 2007) ¿ Despite a strong start in Saturday's O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, Sam Hornish Jr. experienced early misfortunes with his No. 12 Kodak Dodge Charger that relegated him to a 31st-place finish in the NASCAR Busch Series race.
¿Obviously, we wanted more out of it, but we got to run 194 laps here, which is another place where I have minimal amount of track time (in a stock car),¿ Hornish said. ¿So, I¿m happy that we got to run as long as we did. It could have been pretty bad if we were totally taken out of the race on that spin.¿
Hornish, who started 16th, began the 200-lap race with a loose handing race car. On lap 21, Hornish spun off turn four, nearly missing the 1.5-mile track's wall and bringing out the race's second of four caution flags. Hornish glided through the frontstretch apron's grass, but his Dodge suffered a cut right-front tire in the process, which tore off the front fender.
¿We got a little bit loose and had to get out of it,¿ the defending IndyCar Texas race winner said. ¿I thought everything would be OK until the cut tire tore up the fenders coming into the pits. That pretty much made it impossible to keep up with a good speed. But we stayed out there and got a bunch of laps in.
"I was really happy with the guys on the Kodak Dodge team because they didn¿t give up at all. They got the car fixed, allowing me to get more laps.¿
Prior to the incident, Hornish was running laps two-tenths faster than the front-runners.
Hornish pitted three times to repair his race car during the second caution period, maintaining lead-lap status. However, the damage to his car proved too extensive to race competitively with the lead-lap cars for the remainder of the race. Determined to get much needed seat time, Hornish made the best of the situation and brought the car home six laps down.
¿It¿s been a couple months since I¿ve been in a stock car race," Hornish noted. "These guys have more experience in the last two months running stock cars than I¿ve had in my entire life, but that¿s part of the learning process. Knowing how loose the car needs to be at the beginning of a run to be good at the end. Every track is different. Some tracks, you don¿t want it to be so loose at the beginning. It¿s all a learning process and you never know until you go and do it. I¿m going to keep my head up and hopefully, continue improving.¿
Hornish¿s next NASCAR Busch Series appearance in the No. 12 Kodak Dodge Charger is next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway for the ARIZONA TRAVEL 200 on Saturday at 4 p.m. EST.