Penske Racing Trio Finds Strategy Tough at Sonoma

June 23, 2008

SONOMA, Calif. (June 22, 2008) - On Sunday, Penske Racing drivers Ryan Newman, Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch finished seventh, 31st and 32nd respectively in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series event at the 1.99-mile, 11-turn Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Newman's No. 12 Alltel Dodge team is currently 16th in the NASCAR Cup driver point standings, 105 points shy of the 12th place cutoff for the 2008 NASCAR Chase for the Cup, while Busch and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge crew sits 22nd. Hornish and the No. 77 Mobil 1 team remain in 33rd in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner point standings, just 15 points out of 30th place.

Newman qualified the Alltel Dodge in ninth place and remained in the top 10 until green flag pit stops began at lap 25. As the team prepared to pit under the green flag for his first pit stop of the day, an untimely caution flag waved at lap 30. Under the caution, the No. 12 hit pit road. Because several other cars had already pitted under the green flag prior to the caution and did not have to stop during the yellow, Newman restarted in 14th place.

The same green/yellow flag situation occurred again later in the race, which took Newman from the 3rd position to 22nd on lap 74. Once Newman got back on track, however, he was able to fight his way through the field. On lap 105, a multi-car incident directly in front of the 12 car in turn seven helped Newman gain even more ground - up to the eighth spot. Newman was able to pick up one more position on the final lap of the race to finish solidly in seventh place.

"Our strategy got off a little bit, and we had to pass a whole lot more cars than we should have had to," said Newman after the event. "There at the end we got a little help to gain some ground with the wrecks. We're happy with the finish - it's a top 10, and that's what we need right now. All in all, it was a good day, and we are looking forward to New Hampshire next week."

In his first NASCAR Cup Series road-course event, Hornish started 17th and despite fighting an ill-handling race car, captured a 31st place finish.

"I'm glad to have completed my first road course race in Cup Series competition," said Hornish, who now leads the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings by eight points over Regan Smith. "I wish we could have had a better finish but we continue to work hard and come together as a team. It felt like the Mobil 1 Dodge did not have any forward bite and I had to adjust my driving accordingly. Today was definitely a learning experience."

After starting third in Sunday's 110-lap event, Kurt Busch was part of an on-track incident early in the race that caused a tire rub, forcing the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge to have to pit under the green. Going a lap down to the leaders on Lap 49, Busch was never able to make up the lost ground and had to settle for a 32nd place finish.

"We started out pretty decent," Busch said. "What really ruined our day was getting the tire rub while racing so hard with the 41 car and the 01 car - it was just a matter of time before we blew a tire or NASCAR black-flagged us, so we had to pit under green. We lost a lap and just never could make it back up. Unfortunately when we finally got in a spot to get the ‘lucky dog' and get the lap back there were less than 10 laps remaining and there is no free pass given then. It's disappointing and frustrating but all you can do is pick up the pieces and go on."

The Penske Racing trio returns to action next Sunday, June 29 for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. The race can be seen live on TNT at 12:30 p.m. EDT and heard on MRN at 1:15 p.m. EDT.