Sam Hornish Jr. Finishes 13th in Coca-Cola 600

May 26, 2008

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 25, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr, driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, captured a career-best result in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition with a 13th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Sunday night. After falling one lap down early, he worked his way back onto the lead lap and nearly earned a top-10 result. The top-finishing rookie of the race, Hornish Jr. and the No. 77 team are now just three points outside of the top 35 in the owner points standings.

As the 43-car field approached the green flag following a patriotic pre-race ceremony, Hornish Jr.’s spotter Nick DiFazio focused his driver.

“Let’s show them your version of the Indianapolis 500 here,” DiFazio radioed the 2006 Indy 500 champion after the prestigious open-wheel event was held earlier in the day.

Once Hornish Jr. was able to get a feel on the handling of the Mobil 1 Dodge from his 20th-place starting position, he relayed that the race car was tight overall, particularly on the bottom of the racetrack.

When green flag pit stops began near lap 50, Hornish Jr. was running in the 15th position. He brought the No. 77 Dodge to pit road for four tires, a tank of fuel and a track bar adjustment. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish Jr. was posted in 19th place.

When the first caution of the race came out just a few laps later, Hornish Jr. updated the team on the Mobil 1 machine.

“The car was quite a bit better on that run,” said Hornish Jr. “I was able to vary my line more than I could before.”

The Mobil 1 team opted to make a quick pit stop for fuel only on lap 62. By lap 77, Hornish Jr. noted that the car was extremely loose overall. By lap 100, he was posted in 24th place.

The second round of green flag pit stops began shortly after lap 100. Posted in the 23rd position, Hornish Jr. came to pit road on lap 114 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. The pit stop was timely as the No. 77 Dodge had a flat left front tire. After the stops cycled through, Hornish Jr. was running in 28th place, one lap down to the leader.

When the caution flag waved on lap 185 for an accident in turn one, Hornish Jr. decided to bring the Mobil 1 Dodge to pit road for four tires and fuel only.

“The car is pretty good,” Hornish Jr. radioed crew chief Chris Carrier. “I don’t want to take any chances that we ran over debris so let’s do four tires and fuel. All we need is a good, clean stop boys.”

At the mid-point of the race, Hornish Jr. was running in the 23rd position, one lap down to the leader. For the next 100 laps, he fought to be the first car one lap down trying to earn the “lucky dog” free pass back onto the lead lap. Racing hard but not catching cautions at the right time, it wasn’t until a caution flag on lap 296 that Hornish Jr. returned to lead-lap racing.

Pitting for four tires, fuel, tack bar and wedge adjustments on lap 301, the Mobil 1 team worked to free up the car as the track conditions had changed while day turned to night. Hornish Jr. restarted the race on the lead lap in 22nd place. Prepared to race hard for the final 100 laps of the race, the team was in position to gain valuable spots on track and points in the owner standings.

A multi-car accident on the restart allowed Hornish Jr. to advance to 15th place overall. Posting top-10 lap times, he held his own on track when a caution flag came out on lap 329. Reporting that the Mobil 1 Dodge was handling well, the team opted to pit for right side tires and fuel only. The move paid off as the No. 77 team gained six positions in the running order. Hornish Jr. restarted the race on lap 334 in ninth place.

Fuel mileage was a critical factor in the closing laps of the race. Hornish Jr. made a quick stop on pit road for fuel on lap 386. Several cars were able to finish the race without making a final pit stop and Hornish Jr. ultimately finished the race in 13th place, his best-ever points-paying Cup Series result. Kasey Kahne won the race driving the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge.

“I’m really happy with how the Mobil 1 team performed tonight,” said Hornish Jr. “The car was good and it ran well. It took us a while to get our lap back but ultimately it was a good night for us. It’s like a win for me. It took me seven times at Indy to finally finish a race. We completed all 600 miles tonight so that feels good.”

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finished the race in 16th and 21st place, respectively.

Hornish Jr. and the Mobil 1 team head to Dover International Speedway for the Best Buy 400 at the “Monster Mile” on Sunday, June 1, 2008. Race coverage will air live on the FOX network at 1:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio beginning at 1:15 p.m. EDT.