Electrical Issue Relegates Hornish to 32nd at Bristol

March 21, 2010

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 21, 2010) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 32nd in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday after an electrical issue late in the race forced Hornish behind the wall for repairs.

The field of 43 competitors took the green flag with the threat of afternoon rain in the forecast. Starting from the 22nd position, Hornish reported that the Mobil 1 Dodge was extremely tight-handling in the middle of both corners and exiting the turns. When the caution flag came out on lap 40, Hornish was running in the 26th position. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment as he restarted the race in 30th place.

Shortly after the restart, Hornish reported a vibration, possibly tire-related, and tried to work his way down the track to get to pit road. A timely caution flag came out just a few laps later and Hornish was able to come to pit road to the attention of his team. The Mobil 1 crew changed four tires, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment. Hornish restarted the race in 32nd place and the team was not able to pinpoint a specific issue as the cause of the vibration.

Near lap 100, Hornish noted that the vibration had returned and crew chief Travis Geisler informed his driver that several other drivers were reporting the same problem. Likely caused by buildup on the tires from racing in the outside lane, the Mobil 1 team decided to push forward as a light rain shower brought out a brief red flag situation on lap 128.

When racing resumed, Hornish was posted in 21st place and he raced his way into the top 20 as he posted competitive lap times. When the caution flag waved on lap 205, Hornish was running in the 18th spot and he pitted for four tires, fuel and track bar adjustment. Hornish restarted the race in 18th place.

At the midpoint of the 500-lap race, Hornish was running in the 25th position and was fighting a loose-handling condition on the Mobil 1 Dodge.

The Mobil 1 team continued to make adjustments to the race car during the second half of the race. Hornish avoided being collected in a multi-car accident on lap 343 and restarted the race from the 19th spot. When the red flag was displayed once again for rain on lap 390, Hornish was positioned 18th in the running order. Prior to the restart, Hornish came to pit road for right-side tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. The move helped advance Hornish to the 12th spot.

In the final stage of the race, Hornish had raced his way to just outside the top 10 in the running order when an electrical issue caused the No. 77 Dodge to lose power. Hornish was briefly forced behind the wall for repairs and rejoined the race to finish in the 32nd position, 23 laps down to race winner Jimmie Johnson.

“Today was another tough break for this No. 77 team,” said Hornish, who is now ranked 33rd in the Cup Series driver point standings. “For the second week in a row, we have had a top-10 finish in our sights and have a problem of some sort. It’s really disappointing because our finishes so far this season do not reflect how well we have run or the effort we have put in each weekend. We’ll move forward to Martinsville and hopefully we’ll be able to get our luck turned around.”

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski finished the race in third and 13th place, respectively.
Hornish and the Mobil 1 team will head to Martinsville Speedway for the excitement of the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 on Sunday, March 28. Race coverage will air live on the FOX television network beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Race coverage will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.