NEWTON, Iowa (August 4, 2012) - Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Wurth Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished third in Saturday evening’s U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway. The result marks Hornish’s second best finish of the season and third top-five in the last four events. The top finish was made extra-special as Hornish and the Wurth Dodge team brought home a $100,000 bonus as the top finishing Dash4Cash driver and the performance netted a lucky fan $100,000 as well.
Hornish qualified for the event in the seventh position after turning a lap of 23.456 seconds, or 134.294 miles per hour, around the 7/8ths mile speedway during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. As the green flag flew Hornish held position as the short-fast track kept the lead cars bunched tightly during the opening laps. The Defiance, Ohio native was able to improve his position two spots by lap 10 as he was scored fifth in the running order.
Hornish informed the crew that the car was too free into the turns and then tight in the center yet he was able to hold the fifth spot for the first 50 laps at which point the yellow flag was displayed for a pre-mandated competition caution. Crew chief Chad Walter elected to bring the Wurth Dodge to pit lane to make adjustments including air pressure, four tires, left rear wedge and to fill it with fuel.
When the action restarted at lap 56 the Wurth Dodge was scored fifth in the order. Over the next few laps Hornish would be shuffled back to eighth-place while cars were dicing for position, but by lap 70 he had climbed back up to sixth. At lap 89 the caution flew for the second time of the night and after conferring with his driver Walter called Hornish to the pit lane at lap 91. During this stop the Penske pit crew changed the two right-side tires and dispensed a can of fuel with an air pressure adjustment that was aimed at keeping up with changing track conditions.
The Penske Dodge gained multiple positions on the strength of the well-executed pit stop and was shown running second as the racing resumed at lap 95. Over the next several laps the No. 12 Wurth Dodge would battle with the No. 18 of Michael McDowell as the two would swap positions numerous times throughout each lap. At lap 101 Hornish was able to settle into the second position as the 18 began to fade. Over the next 70 laps Hornish reported that his Penske Dodge was too free into the corners and that the rear of the car was sliding across the track. Despite not being completely content with his car Hornish managed to turn competitive lap times and maintained a solid presence in the top-five.
At lap 172 the final caution of the evening was displayed and at lap 174 Hornish pitted for the last time in the event. During this stop the crew changed four tires, made air pressure adjustments and made a wedge adjustment while topping the car off with fuel. At the lap 178 restart Hornish was running fifth. Within two laps the Wurth Dodge moved up to the fourth position and at lap 245 advanced to third as the No. 54 of Kurt Busch had to pit for a flat tire.
Hornish would hold on to third-place and by doing so he earned a $100,000 bonus as he was one of four Nationwide Series drivers that had qualified for the Dash4Cash at the recent race at Indianapolis. As an added bonus a lucky fan, Tammy Altieri, from Spokane, WA also won $100,000 at the Nationwide Dash4Cash event.
“I felt like we had a pretty good car in qualifying but after how practice went yesterday I wasn’t exactly sure how we were going to be tonight,” said Hornish. “I’m just really happy the guys put a good car under me and we did exactly we needed to do. We’re out here trying to get points and we lost a little bit to the leader today but we’re going to have our days too so we just need to be smart about what we’re doing and continue to finish these races. We’re really proud to have brought home a top three finish in our Würth Dodge. We’ve been real fast in these cars this year and haven’t always gotten the finishes that we deserve. Overall, this is a great night for the Würth Dodge and for all of us at Penske Racing to be able to get out of here with our second-consecutive top-three finish.”
With the result Hornish and the No. 12 Wurth Dodge maintain fourth in the championship standings trailing first place by 34 points and are just 13 points behind third-place competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Penske Racing teammate, Ryan Blaney finished 10th in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team will next race at Watkins Glen International Raceway in the Zippo 200 at The Glen on Saturday, August 11. Coverage will air live beginning at 2:00 PM EST on ABC. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90.