WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 9, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, was on course for his best finish of the season in NASCAR’s second-tier series in the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International, but finished in the 36th spot. Running inside the top-10 for the first half of the 82-lap race, Hornish was spun on lap 40 and subsequently hit by another car, ending the afternoon early for the No. 12 team.
Hornish is no stranger to the 2.45-mile upstate New York road course, as he has competed at The Glen in the IndyCar Series with much success. That experience showed in Saturday morning’s qualifying session when Hornish initially secured the eighth starting position for the Penske Truck Rental team. However, at the end of the session, Hornish spun in the inner loop during his final qualifying lap and flat-spotted the tires on the No. 12 machine, necessitating a tire change. That post-qualifying tire change forced the Penske Truck Rental Dodge to start in the back of the field, due to “unapproved adjustments” at an impound race.
After racing action began on Saturday afternoon, Hornish came to pit road on lap five for four tires and fuel as the team employed pit strategy to gain track position. He restarted the race in 39th place. When a full-course caution came out on lap 11, the Penske Truck Rental team opted not to pit as part of the strategy, and Hornish was catapulted into fifth place once stops cycled through.
Hornish was able to maintain that position on the restart, and when the caution flag waved again on lap 21, he reported that the No. 12 Dodge was a little tight in the center of the corners and loose on exit. Once again, the Penske Truck Rental team opted not to come to pit road and kept a top position on-track.
With fuel mileage strategy in play, Hornish and team remained in the top-10 of the running order as their pit window approached. Planning to come to pit road for a final stop on lap 40, Hornish was spun by eventual race winner Marcos Ambrose in the inner loop but avoided damaging the Penske Truck Rental machine. As Hornish attempted to turn his car around, the No. 86 car accidentally veered into the left front of the No. 12, damaging the Penske Truck Rental Dodge beyond repair. At the end of the event, Hornish was posted in 36th place.
“This was definitely a disappointing end to a great race for the Penske Truck Rental team,” said Hornish. “We were forced a bit to use pit strategy after moving to rear of the field for changing the tires after impound and it was working out just right. We were just about to make our final pit of the race and got caught in some slower traffic when we were spun and then hit.
“It’s unfortunate because the car was really good. This Penske Truck Rental team deserved a better finish today, but we will keep our heads up and get ready for our next Nationwide Series race.”
Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge team are slated to compete in the upcoming Food City 250 Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 22, 2008. The race will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on PRN at 8 p.m. EDT.