Sam Hornish Jr. Finishes 39th at New Hampshire

June 29, 2008

LOUDON, N.H. (June 29, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, secured a 39th place finish in his racing debut in a rain-shortened event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. After starting in the 20th position in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301, Hornish battled a loose-handling race car for much of the race, but was able to maintain a top-35 position in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Car Series owners point standings.

Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch captured his first win of the season once weather conditions caused the event to end on lap 284.

Hornish lined up to start the 301-lap (scheduled) event in the 20th position. Once the green flag waved, it was only a few laps before Hornish relayed to his crew that the Mobil 1 machine was loose-handling overall. By lap 25, the No. 77 slipped to 33rd place and Hornish recommended substantial changes on the team’s first pit stop.

As green flag racing resumed, Hornish continued to experience handling issues and had fallen to the 40th position as the team prepared to adjust the Mobil 1 Dodge once green flag pit stops began around lap 60.

The No. 77 came to pit road on lap 70 for four tires, a tank of fuel, track bar and wedge adjustments, along with left side air pressure adjustments and the removal of a spring rubber from the right rear spring.  When the first round of green flag stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in 43rd place.

Once back on track, the adjustments by the Mobil 1 team made a marked improvement in lap times by the No. 77 Dodge. With a deficit to overcome, Hornish set to the task of working his way back through the field and onto the lead lap.

The caution flag waved on lap 85 when the No. 40 car spun, and the Mobil 1 team opted for a two-tire pit stop in order to gain track position. Hornish came to pit road on lap 88 for right side tires, fuel and a slight track bar adjustment. He restarted the race in 39th place, remaining one lap down.

By the midpoint of the 301-mile race, Hornish was posted in the 41st position, running two laps down to the race leader.

On lap 151, the caution flag waved once again and Hornish reported that, despite changes made to the race car, he was still experiencing a loose handling condition. He came to pit road on lap 153 for four tires, fuel, wedge and track bar adjustments, restarting the race on lap 156 in 41st place.

Under another caution period on lap 203, Hornish radioed the team with an update on the Mobil 1 Dodge.  “We’re still tight in the center,” he said about the No. 77 machine. “I have a real hard time trying to get off of the corners. We tend to get a little free right at the exit.”

Hornish came to pit road on lap 205 for four fresh tires, fuel, wedge and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race in 39th place, three laps down to the race leader.

Not giving up, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team continued to work on the car and made improvements to its overall handling. On lap 281, Hornish spun in turn four, making contact with the No. 07 car and brought out the seventh caution of the race.  During that caution period, heavy rains hit the one-mile track and racing action was not resumed.

Hornish finished in 39th place. The No. 77 is currently 34th in the 2008 owner point standings, a mere 35 points from 33rd spot.

“It was a tough day out there today,” said Hornish after the race. “It’s difficult when you’re racing lead-lap cars and lap-down cars at the same time.

“Hopefully we will get things turned around in our direction soon.”

Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch, in his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, captured his first win of the 2008 season and No. 12 Alltel Dodge driver Ryan Newman finished the race in 15th place.
Hornish and the Penske Truck Rental team head to Daytona International Speedway next weekend for the excitement of the Coke Zero 400. Racing action will air live on the TNT television network on Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio beginning at 7:15 p.m. EDT.