Sam Hornish Jr. Secures 22nd Place Finish at Michigan

August 17, 2008

BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 17, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, returned to racing in front of his home crowd this Sunday in the 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway. After qualifying in the 23rd position, Hornish battled an ill-handling condition throughout the day before finishing the 200-lap race in a respectable 22nd place.  The No. 77 team remains 34th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup owners points standings.

As racing action began at the two-mile D-shaped oval located a mere 65 miles from his hometown of Defiance, Ohio, Hornish quickly noted that the Mobil 1 Dodge was extremely tight-handling, especially on corner exits. By lap 10, he had dropped 10 positions, to 33rd in the running order.

When the caution flag waved on lap 18, the Mobil 1 crew prepared to make substantial adjustments to the No. 77 Dodge in order to alleviate the tight condition. Running in 38th place, Hornish came to pit road on lap 23 for four fresh tires, fuel, wedge and track bar adjustments. He was in the 39th spot when the race restarted soon after.

A long green flag run commenced, and Hornish noted that the Mobil 1 machine was still tight-handling overall but was beginning to improve on corner exits. By lap 50, he was posting competitive lap times had worked his way into 29th place.

After almost 40 laps, the first round of green flag pit stops began and Hornish brought the No. 77 Dodge to pit road on lap 63 for four tires, fuel, left-side air pressure adjustments and a wedge adjustment. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish advanced two spots to the 27th position.

On lap 85, the caution flag waved and Hornish, who remained in 27th position, relayed that the Mobil 1 Dodge remained tight on exit, especially when he chose to run the high line on the track. Hornish came to pit road on lap 86 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He lined up for the restart of the race in 30th place.

As the mid-point of the event approached, a caution came out on lap 96 for an accident in turn 2.  Hornish was running in 26th place when the yellow flag waved. In hopes of gaining valuable track position, the Mobil 1 team opted to pit for right-side tires and fuel on lap 98. The move gained the No. 77 team five positions and Hornish restarted the race on lap 101 in 21st place.

With 75 laps to go, Hornish had slipped to 29th place and was focused on working his way back through the field. When green flag stops began again on lap 136, the Mobil 1 crew was ready to make further adjustments to improve the handling of the Mobil 1 Dodge.

Hornish came to pit road on lap 140 for four new tires, fuel, wedge and track bar adjustments. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in 27th place, one lap down to the leaders.

On lap 167, Hornish came back to pit road under caution for four tires, fuel, track bar and right-side air pressure adjustments. He restarted the race in 28th place, and set himself to the task of gaining as much track positions as possible in the waning laps of the race.

During the final 20 laps of the race, three caution periods occurred, setting up a green/white/checkered flag finish. Hornish drove hard, avoided trouble, and crossed the start/finish line in the 22nd position, one lap down to race winner Carl Edwards. His strong performance gave him the Raybestos “Rookie of the Race” award for the 3M Performance 400 as the top-finishing rookie.

“I don’t know what to say about today,” said Hornish after the race.  “We finished respectable today but it was a struggle. We just didn’t make the right adjustments from Happy Hour yesterday to the beginning of the race.  We’ll keep working at it.  The Mobil 1 Dodge ran well.  We probably had a top-15 car but didn’t get a top-15 finish.”

Penske Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch finished in 21st and 36th place, respectively.

Hornish and the Mobil 1 team return to Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend for the excitement of Saturday night racing in the Sharpie 500. Racing action will be televised live on ESPN at 7 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast on PRN at 8 p.m. EDT.