Hornish Finishes 42nd at Dover

September 21, 2008

DOVER, Del. (September 21, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished Sunday’s Camping World RV 400 presented by AAA in 42nd place, 96 laps down to race winner Greg Biffle, after involvement in an accident on lap 170 caused heavy damage to his race car. The Mobil 1 team worked tirelessly to repair the car on pit road and in the garage area but Hornish was not able to make up ground in the running order. The No. 77 Mobil 1 team remains 37th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner points standings, 78 points out of 35th place.

On one of the nicest Sundays the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has seen in weeks, Hornish lined up to start the 400-lap, 400-mile race in the 25th starting position. It took only two laps of green-flag racing for the first caution of the race to be displayed when teammate Kurt Busch was involved in an accident with the No. 38 car in turn one.

Like many other teams, the Mobil 1 crew decided not to pit so early in the race, and Hornish restarted in 23rd place on lap five. Another caution came out on lap 11, this time for a two-car accident in turn two. Hornish reported that the Mobil 1 Dodge was loose-handling overall but seemed to improve over the duration of the run. Once again, crew chief Travis Geisler made the call to remain on track and not make a pit stop under caution in hopes of gaining valuable track position. Hornish restarted the race on lap 15 in the 22nd position.

On lap 44, Hornish radioed that the Mobil 1 machine was now tight-handling under braking conditions and loose-handling on throttle. By lap 55, he was posted in 27th place.

When the caution flag waved on lap 63, Hornish remained in 27th and came to pit road for his first pit stop of the day one lap later. The Mobil 1 crew quickly turned out a pit stop for four tires, fuel, left-rear air pressure and right-side track bar adjustments. Hornish restarted the race on lap 69 in 24th place, gaining a total of three positions.

Hornish had slipped to the 30th position in the running order by lap 100 and fell one lap down to the leaders just a couple of laps later. On lap 110, he reported the Mobil 1 machine was extremely loose-handling when running the top line on track but too tight off the corners when running on the bottom.

A caution came out lap 142 when the No. 88 car spun on the frontstretch. Hornish came to pit road under caution two laps later for four fresh tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments. He restarted the race in the 29th spot.

Two cautions came out over a 10 lap span beginning on lap 156. The Mobil 1 team opted not to pit either time and the No. 77 was posted in the 26th position on lap 166.

On lap 170, Hornish was unexpectedly involved in an accident with the No. 83 car and was forced into the wall. The Mobil 1 Dodge sustained substantial damage and Hornish immediately brought the car to pit road. The crew used a series of short pit stops under caution to make repairs to the No. 77 machine. As a result, Hornish only lost one lap to the leaders and restarted the race on lap 178 in the 34th position.

When the caution flag waved on lap 185, it was again for the Mobil 1 Dodge as the car was too loose-handling and got away from Hornish. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel, wedge and track bar adjustments, restarting the race in 34th place.

While trying to catch up with the field as it approached the restart, Hornish received a pass-through penalty for “excessive speed” and was forced to drive down pit road under green flag conditions. He subsequently dropped to the 38th position, three laps down to the leaders.

Eventually, Hornish had to bring to Mobil 1 machine to the garage area for repairs. He rejoined the race in hopes of gaining position in the running order, but the events of the day relegated Hornish to a 42nd place finish as he retired from the race on lap 377.

The “Monster Mile” created havoc for more than one rookie driver on Sunday. Three of four first-year drivers, including Hornish, found themselves in the garage area for repairs. The top-finishing rookie was only able to secure a 29th place finish.

“The Mobil1 Dodge was loose all day,” said Hornish after the race ended. “It seemed as if we ‘built loose’ as the race went on. The No. 77 Dodge was just not right after we were damaged in the accident. I was fighting it all the way around the track. We tried to make the most of the situation, but it is an unfortunate finish for this Mobil 1 team. We’re ready to break out of this slump for a while and get things turned around.”

Penske Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch finished in 13th and 34th place, respectively.

Hornish and the No. 77 team head to Kansas Speedway next weekend for the excitement of the Camping World RV 400 presented by Coleman. 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.