HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 22, 2009) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 21st in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday as the former three-time IndyCar Series Champion capped off a season of growth and success.
“I feel that the entire No. 77 team has had a season of tremendous growth,” said Hornish. “We went from a rookie season without any top-15 finishes to having a year with nine top-15 and two top-five results. We have run consistently better this year and I am excited for the 2010 season to begin. I have learned so much as a driver and the team has really come together as a cohesive group, so I feel that there are great possibilities for us next year.”
Once racing action was underway, Hornish quickly advanced in the running order from his 29th-place starting spot. By lap 25, he was running in the 20th position and he reported that the Mobil 1 Dodge was performing well entering the turns, but needed to be better on the exit of the corners. Hornish came to pit road during the first round of green flag pit stops on lap 52 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustments. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in 19th place.
A series of caution periods ensued as the race approached the halfway point. With the balance of the car much improved as the sun began to set in South Florida, the Mobil 1 team opted not to pit under the caution flag. Hornish continued to run strong and was in the 10th position at the midpoint of the race.
Hornish continued to keep pace with the leaders as he ran inside the top-10 for much of the second half of the race. Unfortunately, a tight-handling condition developed on the Mobil 1 Dodge on late-race restarts and Hornish ultimately finished the race in 21st place. Hornish completed the 2009 season ranked 28th in the driver point standings and the No. 77 team will begin the 2010 season ranked 28th in the owner point standings.
Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch finished the race in fourth place and was ranked fourth in the final Cup Series championship standings. In addition, Brad Keselowski finished Sunday’s event in 25th place.
“We had a good day in our Mobil 1 Dodge,” said Hornish. “We just didn’t quite make the adjustments early enough, but we were pretty good there in the end. We have been focused on having consistent finishes to help balance the good and bad days. This race was a good job by all the Mobil 1 guys in working towards that goal. They’ve worked hard all year and we have a lot of things to build on for next year.”
Hornish and the No. 77 team will return to racing action at Daytona International Speedway for the prestigious Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 14, 2010. Racing action will air live on the FOX television network beginning at 1 p.m. ET