Sam Hornish Jr. Captures Top-20 Finish At Phoenix

April 13, 2008

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 12, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, continued to find success at Phoenix International raceway, finishing 20th in Saturday night’s Subway Fit Fresh 500. Hornish Jr., who emerged as the top finishing rookie at Phoenix, was also able to maintain a top-35 position in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup owner points standings while gaining valuable racing experience.
With the excitement of Saturday night racing in the air, Hornish Jr. and the Mobil 1 team started the race from the 31st position. It took only ten laps for the first caution of the night for debris and Hornish Jr. radioed the team that the Mobil 1 machine was generally tight-handling overall. He came to pit road on lap 12 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Lining up to restart the race in the 34th position, Hornish Jr. was tasked with working his way through the field on the one-mile short track.

By lap 71, Hornish Jr. relayed that the race car was loose on entry and exit of the turns and tight through the middle. By lap 100, he was running in the 40th position, one lap down to then-leader Jimmie Johnson.

A fortunate caution period for the Mobil 1 team came out lap 113 while the field was making a round of green flag pit stops. Having not made a pit stop, Hornish Jr. was running in 24th place when the yellow flag waved gaining valuable track position for the team. He came to pit road and the crew changed four tires, added fuel, and made air pressure and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 121 in the 29th position.

On lap 133, racing action was red-flagged as crews went to working cleaning fluid from the track. Planning his next pit stop, Hornish Jr. noted improvement in the handling of the race car, saying, “I feel the last adjustments have us headed in the right direction.”

When pit road opened, the Mobil1 team opted not to come in for better track position and hopefully be able to race for the “lucky dog” spot to advance to the lead lap in the event of a caution. Hornish Jr. restarted the race on lap 138 in 23rd, near the front of the cars running one lap down.

Just before the mid-point of the race, the caution flag waved once again, with Hornish Jr. slipping to the 28th position. The team opted to come to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He restarted the race in 32nd place.

Racing with the big picture in mind, the Mobil 1 team continued to adjust the No. 77 Dodge to make gains on track. When the 312-mile event came down to fuel mileage, the Mobil 1 team played the right cards as Hornish Jr. had enough gas to finish the race without a fuel stop, advancing several positions in the running order as a result. He took the checkered flag in the 20th position, earning his second top 20 of the season.

“We did what we needed to do today to make the car better,” said Hornish Jr. “We were able to keep up with the track and conserve fuel in the end and gain a lot of spots on the track. I’m happy to have another top 20 and we will continue this momentum as we head to Talladega.”

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finished the race in 23rd and 43rd place respectively.

The Mobil 1 team will enjoy a weekend off before heading to Talladega Superspeedway on April 27 for the second restrictor-plate race of the 2008 season. Hornish Jr. will head south of the border with the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Nationwide Series team for the Mexico 200 road course event at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on April 20, 2008. Racing action will air live on ESPN at 1:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio at 2:00 p.m. EDT.