FORT WORTH, Texas (November 8, 2009) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 AAA Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 40th in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Prior to the start of the race weekend at the 1.5-mile oval, Hornish hosted a celebrity bowling tournament for the fifth consecutive year, in conjunction with Speedway Children’s Charities. This year, the star-studded event raised $101,480 bringing the total to over $500,000 since the event’s inception in 2005.
On the track, Hornish started the 334-lap event from the 11th spot following a strong qualifying effort on Friday. On the third lap of the race, Hornish was racing three-wide with the No. 00 and No. 48 cars when the AAA machine got loose after slight contact and struck the car driven by series leader Jimmie Johnson. Both cars received substantial damage and Hornish came to pit road for repairs. The AAA team serviced the No. 77 Dodge and replaced the right-rear quarter panel. Hornish restarted the race on lap seven in the 42nd position, running one lap down to the leaders.
As he continued on, Hornish reported that the race car was loose-handling on the exit of the turns. Running in 39th place, Hornish came in for the first round of green flag pit stops on lap 51 for four tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments. When the pit stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in 39th place, now two laps down to the race leaders.
On lap 87, Hornish was involved in a single-car accident on the backstretch and the AAA Dodge suffered further damage. He came to pit road for repairs and rejoined the race on lap 95 in the 39th spot, 11 laps down. Reporting a vibration, Hornish was forced to the garage for more work. Unfortunately, the No. 77 machine was damaged beyond repair. Hornish finished the race in 40th place and is now ranked 30th in the 2009 driver point standings.
Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch scored his second victory of the 2009 season Sunday while Brad Keselowski finished 35th in his first start for the Penske Racing team.
“I got hit by the No. 00 car and didn't even have time to correct before I got up into Jimmie,” said Hornish of the first incident of the race. “I don't ever want to feel like I've affected the outcome of the championship. I have my head down a little bit this week because I had a really good car and all we wanted to do is make it so we could race the last three laps like that and not the first three laps.”
Hornish and the No. 77 team head to Phoenix International Raceway for the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, November 15, 2009. Racing action will air live on the ABC television network beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio starting at 2:45 p.m. EST.