Hornish Rallies to Capture a 13th-Place Finish at Dover

May 31, 2009

DOVER, Del. (May 31, 2009) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, rallied to overcome a two-lap deficit and finished 13th in the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.

Hornish was running solidly in the top-10 during the first part of the 400-lap race when an untimely caution during green flag pit stops dropped the Mobil 1 Dodge two laps down to leaders. Hornish persevered throughout much of the remainder of the race and worked his way back on to the lead lap with just under 30 laps remaining. A late-race charge proved the mettle of the Mobil 1 Dodge team as Hornish rallied to a 13th-place result.

Starting from the 12th spot, Hornish quickly relayed to the team that the Mobil 1 Dodge was tight-handling in the center of the corners and loose-handling on the exit of the turns. In just a few laps, Hornish was racing inside the top-10 and posting competitive lap times.

When NASCAR displayed a “competition caution” on lap 30 following morning rains at Dover, Hornish was running in the 10th position and he noted the car was good on entry and exit but still tight-handling in the center of the corners. Hornish brought the No. 77 Dodge to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment. He restarted the race in 14th place after several teams opted for two-tire pit stops in order to gain track position.

By lap 100, Hornish was running 11th and green flag pit stops began just a few laps later. Hornish pitted on lap 110 for four tires and fuel along with air pressure and track bar adjustments. Unfortunately, a caution flag came out during the pit stops and Hornish was caught two laps down to the leaders in 30th place.

Hornish and a handful of other competitors lined up for the restart in front of race leader Jimmie Johnson and Hornish needed a quick caution to be solidly posted one lap down and able to race for the “free pass” to get back on the lead lap. Hornish continued to post top-10 lap times and remained in front of the leader when the caution flag waved on lap 163. After pitting for four tires, fuel and air pressure and track bar adjustments, Hornish lined up in the 29th spot for the restart, just one lap down to the leaders.

At the midpoint of the race, Hornish was still posted in the 29th spot, one lap down. When a caution flag was shown to the field on lap 231, Hornish was running in 28th place with only 19 cars on the lead lap. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He restarted the race in 26th place.

A series of cautions ensued during the second half of the race. Hornish raced his way into the “lucky dog” position and returned to lead-lap racing after the caution flag waved on lap 371. He restarted the race in 20th place and quickly began working his way through the field. Hornish advanced seven spots down the stretch to capture a 13th-place finish.

Hornish also moved up four positions in the driver point standings to the 26th spot. He now sits just 82 points outside of 20th place.

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and David Stremme finished the race in fifth place and 31st place, respectively.

“We had a really fast race car,” said Hornish after the race. “We got caught behind the eight ball early on, but all the guys on the Mobil 1 crew kept digging on how we could move forward and make up some ground.

“The car was phenomenal. Everybody at Penske Racing is doing a great job for me. I thought that we had a tire going down, so we had to pit early and that put us two laps down when the caution came out after we pitted. I had to race hard to get those laps back; it was like everything that could go against us did. We had a top-five car; we just didn’t get that out of it today. I’m proud of the effort that the guys gave today because we could have been 30th very easily.”

Hornish and the Mobil 1 team head to Pocono Raceway next weekend for the Pocono 500 on Sunday, June 7, 2009. Racing action will air live on the TNT television network beginning at 12:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio starting at 1:15 p.m. EDT.