DOVER, Del. (May 31, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, made his first NASCAR start at the one-mile Dover International Speedway on Saturday in the Heluva Good! 200. Starting the three-hour rain-delayed event in the 20th position, Hornish battled a tight-handling race car and finished the 200-lap race in 23rd place.
Having achieved some success in five previous Nationwide Series events over the past two months, Hornish and the Penske Truck Rental team were ready to hit the track once heavy rains passed on Saturday. After only four laps on track, Hornish radioed that the Penske Truck Rental Dodge was tight-handling on corner entry and exit.
The first caution period of the race came out on lap 19, giving the Penske Truck Rental team the ability to make adjustments to the No. 12 machine. Hornish came to pit road on lap 21 for four scuffed tires, a tank of fuel, as well as air pressure and wedge adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 25 in the 23rd position.
Relaying that the adjustments somewhat helped the handling of the Penske Truck Rental machine, Hornish was running in 24th place when he came to pit road under caution on lap 48. The team changed four tires, added fuel and made track bar and air pressure adjustments. He lined up for the restart on lap 51 in the 23rd positions.
Unfortunately, the second round of adjustments made the No. 12 Dodge tighter than it had been before. Hornish informed his team that “the car won’t turn through the center of the corner and wants to push up.”
By lap 100, Hornish was in the 22nd position, running one lap down to then-leader Kyle Busch.
Hornish pitted under green flag conditions for his final pit stop of the race on lap 148 reporting that the No. 12 Dodge had picked up a vibration. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure adjustments and the removal of two spring rubbers from the left rear spring. The pit stop proved to be a smart move, as the left side tires were down to their cords.
On lap 150, Hornish was running in 27th place, four laps behind the leaders, continuing to battle the tight-handling condition. By the end of the 200 lap, 200-mile race, Hornish was able to advance to 23rd place, five laps down to race winner Denny Hamlin.
“We never really got a handle on the Penske Truck Rental Doge today,” said Hornish. “It was a tough day for our team but we got in some good laps. I learned a lot today and the extra seat time will be important for tomorrow’s Cup Series race.”
Hornish Jr. and the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge team are next slated to compete in the upcoming Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, July 11, 2008. The race will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN at 8 p.m. EDT.