Hornish Finishes 30th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

September 14, 2008

LOUDON, N.H. (September 14, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the 30th position on Sunday afternoon. Starting from the 36th spot, Hornish was running just outside of the top-20 when the No. 77 had engine issues, but he remained on track to finish the race in the 30th position.

The No. 77 Mobil 1 team remains 37th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner points standings, 18 points out of 35th place.

Although the weather was rainy in New Hampshire, it did not stop the Mobil 1 team from bringing some sunshine into the lives of local children. Joining a charitable effort by primary sponsor Mobil 1, the No. 77 team and others from the Penske Racing camp visited the St. Charles Children’s Home in Rochester, N.H. on Saturday. The afternoon was filled with playing, pizza, ice cream and gifts, offering everyone at Penske Racing and Mobil 1 an important opportunity to give back to the community.

“Thanks to Mobil 1 for their support and to everyone for going out and spending time with the kids yesterday. Let’s have a good day today,” radioed crew chief Travis Geisler as the field approached the start of the 300-lap race, which had been set by 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner point standings due to weather issues canceling Friday’s qualifying session.

Due to heavy rains throughout the weekend, NASCAR called for a “competition caution” on lap 35 and Hornish updated the team on the status of the Mobil 1 Dodge as he prepared to make his first pit stop of the race. He relayed that the race car was tight-handling in the center of the turns and needed more “forward bite,” referring to the need for rear grip under acceleration on exit.

Hornish was posted in the 35th position when he came to pit road on lap 37 for four tires, a tank of fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 40 in 32nd place.

After 40 green flag laps, Hornish radioed to the team that the Mobil 1 Dodge remained tight-handling in the center of the turns and loose under braking. When the caution flag waved on lap 83 for a three-car accident on the backstretch of the 1.058-mile oval, Hornish was running 30th. Under the caution period, he came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment restarting the race in 30th place.

By the mid-point of the race, Hornish was posted in 34th place, running one lap down to the leaders. As green flag pit stops approached, Hornish radioed to the team that the Mobil 1 machine was “free” on entry and exit and tight in the center of the turns, noting the tight condition to be the biggest issue affecting performance.

Hornish came to pit road under green flag conditions on lap 157 for four tires, fuel, air pressure and a right-side track bar adjustment. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish was posted in 35th place.

The caution flag waved again on lap 213 for debris and Hornish relayed that the handling of the Mobil 1 Dodge was unchanged. The team called for Hornish to come to pit road on lap 216 for four tires, fuel and a left-rear wedge adjustment. Hornish received a pit road speed violation as he exited pit road and was required to restart the race at the end of the longest line on track.

Mobil 1 crew chief Geisler called his driver to pit road for a splash of fuel just before the green flag waved as the team was within its fuel window to complete the race without stopping again. Hornish restarted the race on lap 220 in 33rd place, one lap down to the leaders.

The restart immediately brought out another caution flag, for an accident on the frontstretch. The Mobil 1 team opted not to make a pit stop. The race restarted on lap 228 with Hornish running in 31st place.

On the very next lap, the fifth caution flag of the day waved for a multi-car accident in turn four bringing out the red flag and halting racing action for more than 10 minutes. Once racing resumed on lap 234, Hornish was scored in 24th place, as the Mobil 1 team opted not to come to pit road once again.

On lap 235, Hornish radioed to the Mobil 1 team that the No. 77 machine had engine issues and was down on power. Although the lap times of the Mobil 1 Dodge were close to Hornish’s previous lap times, he was unable to competitively race with the other cars on his lap.

Despite engine woes, the No. 77 team finished the race in 30th place, two laps down to race winner Greg Biffle.

“It was a tough day and a little bit frustrating at times, but we got through it,” said Hornish. “Today wasn’t what we needed for in the points race, but I feel like we’re heading in the right direction. This is the best finish that we’ve had in the last three weeks. We’ll keep working at it.”

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finished in 6th and 36th place, respectively.

Hornish and the No. 77 team head to Dover International Speedway next weekend for the excitement of the Camping World RV 400. On Sunday, September 21, racing action will be televised live on ABC at 1 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast on MRN at 1:15 p.m. EDT.