Penske Racing Trio Solidly In Top 35 After Michigan

June 16, 2008

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 15, 2008) - Penske Racing drivers Kurt Busch, Sam Hornish Jr. and Ryan Newman finished 21st, 22nd and 42nd respectively in Sunday's 200-lap LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). Busch used fuel mileage and pit strategy to make up a lost lap to finish just outside the top-20, Hornish Jr. experienced a day of "firsts" as the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge driver celebrated his first Father's Day as a new dad, made his first Cup start at MIS and led the race twice, while Ryan Newman and the No. 12 Alltel Dodge team suffered mechanical and engine failure.

Qualifying for the 400-mile event was rained out on Friday, and the field was set according to 2008 NASCAR Cup Series owner points, which saw Newman start 14th, Busch start 22nd and Hornish start 35th.

It was an afternoon of highs and lows for Busch, who had an ill-handling racecar at the drop of the green flag, resulting in a spinout in the exit of Turn 2 while running 36th on lap 103. But as the race continued, Busch's bad luck turned into good fortune. Running a lap down to the leaders, the Pat Tryson-led team began to "bank" extra fuel mileage by pitting on the "one-lap-to-go" circuit before restarts. The team's strategy paid off as he got the "lucky dog" free pass back onto the lead lap on Lap 146 when the fourth yellow flag fell. The Miller Lite Dodge finished 21st and Busch climbed two spots in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series driver points rankings, up to 19th.

"We were really fortunate to finish that high," said Busch, who had posted a dominant win here in the most recent Cup race last August. "We came in here looking at the big picture and that's what we're faced with from now on until we get to Richmond in September."

Hailing from nearby Defiance, Ohio, Hornish considers the two-mile D-shaped oval his "home" track. After starting the race in 35th, Hornish made steady gains through the field and on lap 142, pit stop strategy gave Hornish the lead for the first time in the Mobil 1 Dodge driver's NASCAR Cup Series career. Hornish's No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge was running strong and he was able to pass then-leader Jimmie Johnson on lap 162 - his first green flag pass for the lead of a Cup Series event. Johnson retook the lead on the next lap with Hornish running a solid second until rising water temperatures caused by debris on the grille forced him to pit under green on lap 178.

As the race drew to a close, Hornish spun in turn four with three laps to go, creating a green/white/checkered flag finish. Hornish was able to return to the race and finished in 22nd place. The solid result advanced the No. 77 Mobil 1 team advanced two spots in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series owners point standings, up to 33rd place. "This group is working hard and things are really coming together for us," said Hornish after the race.

Newman and No. 12 Alltel Dodge team felt they would contend for a solid finish at Michigan on Sunday at Michigan but a mechanical failure sent Newman to the garage at lap 74 for extensive repairs. After getting back on track, an engine failure with a mere 16 laps remaining ended Newman's day and relegated the team to a 42nd place finish.

"Things just didn't go our way today," said Newman.

The Alltel Dodge driver is currently 17th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings, 123 points shy of the 12th place cutoff for the 2008 NASCAR Chase for the Cup.

The Penske Racing trio returns to action next Sunday, June 22 for the Toyota Save-Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The race can be seen live on TNT at 3:30 p.m. EDT and heard on PRN radio at 5 p.m. EDT.