Sam Hornish Jr. Earns Respectable 25th Place Finish at Atlanta

March 10, 2008

HAMPTON, Ga. (March 9, 2008) - Penske Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. and the No. 77 Penske Truck Rental team were focused on gaining experience and valuable owner points during the Kobalt Tools 500 Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. After battling a loose car for most of the race, Hornish Jr. emerged as the top-finishing rookie, posting an impressive 25th-place result. Hornish Jr. currently ranks 36th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season point standings and the No. 77 team is now ranked 36th in the owner standings, just 18 points outside of the top 35.

"Let's have a good day out there today," crew chief Chris Carrier radioed his driver before the race. ¿Our goal is to run all the laps and be there at the end of the day.¿

Once racing action got underway, Hornish Jr. told his team that the Penske Truck Rental Dodge was tight in the center of the turns and loose on exit. By lap 25, he had worked his way up to the 24th position and was running on the lead lap.

Known to be one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit, it is not uncommon for racecars to go a lap down quickly at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The first caution flag of the race came out on lap 39 for debris with Hornish Jr. running in the 20th position. With the big picture in mind, the team initially decided not to pit, hoping to lead a lap and gain valuable owner points.

When other drivers stayed out in front of Hornish Jr., he brought the Penske Truck Rental Dodge to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. He restarted the race on lap 42 in the 20th position, one of 22 cars on the lead lap.

Within a few laps, Hornish Jr. radioed that the car was extremely loose, an issue that would plague many drivers on the 1.54-mile quad-oval throughout the day.

When the caution flag flew on lap 86 for debris, Hornish Jr. came to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments in an effort to tighten the handling on the racecar. He restarted the race in the 23rd position, one lap down to the leader.

"If we could get in the corner without being so free we could definitely pick up some speed," Hornish Jr. informed his team.

The Penske Truck Rental Dodge remained on the loose side and, at the mid-point of the race, Hornish Jr. was posted in the 26th position, two laps down to the leader. Only 18 cars remained on the lead lap.

The No. 77 team utilized a series of cautions in the second half of the race to continue to make adjustments to the car. Hornish Jr. stayed strong as the race reached its conclusion, earning a 25th-place finish while running only two laps down to race winner Kyle Busch.

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finished the race in 11th and 14th place respectively.

¿We got a lot of laps in and the car was really good on the first run and then from there we just couldn¿t get it back tightened up. It was so free I felt like I was running on dirt most of the race,¿ Hornish Jr. said with a smile. ¿We kept it underneath us and kept running out there. It¿s definitely a learning experience.  All the guys on the Penske Truck Rental Dodge did a great job for me today.¿

Hornish Jr. returns to action with the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge team next weekend at the famed Bristol Motor Speedway in what¿s expected to be an action-packed Food City 500. The race will be televised live on FOX beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on PRN Radio at 2:00 p.m. EDT.