Hornish Jr. Earns 29th-Place Finish at Bristol Motor Speedway

March 17, 2008

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2008) - Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger, took to the banks of Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time in his racing career this weekend. After starting in the seventh position, Hornish Jr. battled a tight car but avoided trouble on the track to finish the Food City 500 in 29th place. The finish advanced the No. 77 team to the 35th position in the 2008 owner points standings, securing a spot for the team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup event in Martinsville, Va. in two weeks.

Hornish Jr., tasked with learning a new track and fighting for valuable owner points, was intent on running a smart race and taking the checkered flag at the end of the day. As racing action was set to begin, crew chief Chris Carrier focused his driver and team on the task at hand and reminded them of the nature of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"Things can happen fast here," radioed Carrier. "Don¿t worry if we happen to make a mistake. We won¿t be the first or the last. Let¿s just make sure that one mistake doesn¿t lead to another. We have a good chance at having a strong race and getting back into the top 35 heading to Martinsville."

Soon after the race began, Hornish Jr. radioed that Mobil 1 Dodge was tight. By lap 29, the situation had gotten worse.

"We¿re going to free you up on this first pit stop," said Carrier. "You¿re doing a great job out there. You¿re doing an awesome job."

Hornish Jr. was in the 14th position when NASCAR called a competition caution on lap 50 due to rain on Friday and Saturday. Hornish Jr. came to pit road on lap 53 for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 57 in the 21st position.

As racing action resumed, Hornish Jr. reported the Mobil 1 Dodge remained on the tight side. When a caution came out on lap 95 for debris, he once again came to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 100 in 30th place.

A newcomer to the track, Hornish Jr. focused on running his line and remained on the lead lap until lap 150. Still battling a tight condition, the Mobil 1 team caught a lucky break when the caution flag flew on lap 191 for a multi-car accident in turn two.

"The right front tire is just about done," radioed Hornish Jr, "We¿ve picked up a pretty bad vibration so that was a good caution for us."

Hornish Jr. came to pit road for service, and despite continued adjustments, the tight condition persisted. By the mid-point of the race, he was running in the 30th position, two laps down to the leader.

Hornish Jr. continued to battle the tight condition on track for the remainder of the race. He finished the Food City 500 in the 29th position, running five laps down to the leader. Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finished the race in 12th and 33rd place respectively. 

"We accomplished what we had to today," said Hornish Jr. "We stayed out of trouble and worked our way back into the top 35 in owner points. After we had tough luck in two of the first five races, it feels good to know that our hard work and determination has gotten us back into the top 35 headed to Martinsville. We just couldn¿t seem to get the adjustments to go in our direction. The race was definitely intense and I was probably bumped more than I bumped others but today was a good day for us overall.¿

Hornish Jr. and the Mobil 1 team will enjoy the Easter weekend at home before heading to Martinsville Speedway in two weeks for the Goody¿s Cool Orange 500. The race will air live on FOX at 1:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio at 2:00 p.m. EDT.