Hornish Jr. Finishes 38th at Darlington Raceway

May 11, 2008

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 10, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr, driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway in a disappointing 38th place due to two separate tire incidents. The No. 77 team now sits 36th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup owner points standings, just 18 points outside of the 35th position.

Hornish Jr. started the 367-lap event at the 1.366-mile “Lady in Black” in 23rd place.  As the field turned three pace laps before the start of the Dodge Challenger 500, Hornish Jr. thanked the Mobil 1 crew members for their hard work over the race weekend. “Everyone did a really good job yesterday repairing the car after I wrecked in practice,” he said. “Let’s all do our best and try to have a smooth night tonight.”

Unfortunately that would not be the case as Hornish Jr. brought out the second caution of the night on lap 12 due to a flat right front tire, which caused the Mobil 1 Dodge to hit the wall hard and sustain substantial right side damage. Forced to the garage for repairs, the Mobil 1 team quickly went to work fixing the No. 77.

“The handling on the Mobil 1 Dodge was good and we were picking up spots. The right front tire went down and the front end of the race car just went straight,” said Hornish Jr. about the incident. “Unfortunately, sometimes it seems the days we feel good about the car we hit a bump.”

After nearly 45 minutes in the garage, Hornish Jr. rejoined the race on lap 95, in the 42nd position, 85 laps down to the leader. When green flag pit stops began around lap 115, he radioed that the Mobil 1 machine was tight-handling overall and had picked up a push. He came to pit road on lap 126 for four tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments.

Despite being many laps down, Hornish Jr. and the Mobil 1 team used the ensuing laps of the race to practice, gain experience and pick up positions, as attrition is always a factor at the storied venue. “Let’s practice some things and pretend that we racing tonight except around lead lap cars,” radioed Hornish Jr. “I want to try a few things entering pit road and our pit stops should be the same as if we are racing on the lead lap.”

By the mid-point of the race, Hornish Jr. was posted in the 41st position, running 87 laps down to then-leader Greg Biffle  On lap 206, a flat right rear tire on the Mobil 1 machine brought Hornish Jr. to pit road and the crew changed all four tires and added fuel.

Hornish Jr. stayed on track for the remainder of the race and was able to pick up a few positions before the checkered flag waved.

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finished the race in 12th and 37th place, respectively.

“I’m proud of this team,” commented Mobil 1 crew chief Chris Carrier. “We continue to overcome and we will overcome tonight. One of these days is going to be our day. If anything, I am sure of that.”

“I guess we have to pay our dues like everyone else,” said Hornish Jr. after the race. “Sooner or later it will turn our way.”

Next weekend, Hornish Jr. and the Mobil 1 team will lay it all on the line in the Sprint Showdown qualifying race for the Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 17. The top two finishers advance into the million-dollar All-Star Race as does one fan vote recipient. To vote for Hornish Jr., visit www.nascar.com.

Racing action of the Sprint Showdown/All-Star Race will air live on SPEED at 7 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio at 7:30 p.m. EDT.