CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 24, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, experienced both highs and lows in the Carquest Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. After starting in the 13th position, Hornish Jr. led his first NASCAR race before an incident ended the night early for the Penske Truck Rental team. He finished the race in a disappointing 39th place.
Once racing action got underway at the 1.5-mile track on Saturday night, Hornish Jr. reported that the No. 12 Dodge was loose as he drove off the corners. It was only on lap 3 when the first caution flag of the race waved. Penske Truck Rental team crew chief Matt Gimbel made the call not to come down pit road for adjustments, rather advising his driver to “stay out and see if the car comes to us.”
When the race resumed, Hornish Jr. radioed his team after 10 green-flag laps noting that the Penske Truck Rental machine was still loose on exit of the corners and slightly tight in the center of the turns.
Another caution came out on lap 25 for a spin in turn three and Hornish Jr. came to pit road for right side tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. The fast seven-second pit stop advanced the No. 77 Penske Truck Rental Dodge 10 spots in the running order. Hornish Jr. restarted the race on lap 30 in the second position.
Five laps later, Hornish Jr. had fallen to third place when the leaders bumped into each other, allowing him the opportunity to vault into the lead. Taking the lead for the first time ever in NASCAR competition, Hornish Jr. led the field for a total of eight laps before relinquishing the lead to the No. 38 car driven by Jason Leffler.
On lap 50, Hornish Jr. was running in second place when he radioed that the race car was “too loose to run on the bottom but tight behind the 38 car on top.”
Hornish Jr. got loose under a lap car on lap 60, causing him to spin in turn two. In an impressive display, he avoided contact with the wall and the Penske Truck Rental Dodge did not sustain any damage. Hornish Jr. came to pit road under caution for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 65 in 14th place, remaining on the lead lap.
Suddenly on lap 66, Hornish Jr. was involved in a single car incident in the backstretch, damaging the No. 12 Dodge beyond repair. He finished the race in 39th place.
“We just got really loose out there,” said Hornish Jr. “We were decent at the beginning of the race but then got loose. I was just riding out there when a car got loose in front of me. I checked up to avoid hitting him and the Penske Truck Rental Dodge snapped around and went nose first into the wall. I’m really proud of this team and hate that we couldn’t bring home a better finish tonight.”
Hornish Jr. and the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge team are slated to compete in the Heluva Good! 200 at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, May 31, 2008. The race will be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN at 3 p.m. EDT.