Hornish Scores 13th-Place Finish at Martinsville

March 29, 2010

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2010) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 13th in the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Monday. As a result, Hornish is now ranked 30th in the 2010 driver point standings, just 47 points outside of the 25th position.

After rainy weather cancelled qualifying and eventually postponed the race until Monday, Hornish lined up to start the 508-lap event in the 33rd position. Although he was feeling a bit under the weather, Hornish was pleased with the Mobil 1 Dodge after final practice on Saturday and was determined to complete the race.

Once racing action was underway, Hornish relayed that the No. 77 Dodge was tight-handling in the center of the corners. When the first of 13 caution periods occurred on lap 43, Hornish was posted in the 22nd spot. He pitted for four tires, fuel and a slight left-side air pressure adjustment. He restarted the race in 24th place.

Pleased with the Mobil 1 machine, Hornish and crew chief Travis Geisler opted not to pit under subsequent cautions as the No. 77 advanced into the top-15 in the running order. By lap 100, Hornish was running 17th and reported that the race car was loose-handling on entry and exit of the corners and tight through the center of the turns. When the caution flag waved once again on lap 130, Hornish was able to come to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment and he restarted the race in 21st place.

The Mobil 1 Dodge received minor front-end damage when the field got backed up on a race restart on lap 168. When the caution flag came out only laps later, Hornish came to pit road to allow the Mobil 1 crew to make any necessary repairs to the car. With no real damage concerns, Hornish restarted the race in 25th place.

When the caution flag was once again displayed on lap 235, Hornish was 27th, running as the first car one lap down to the leader. He received the “free pass” from NASCAR and returned to lead-lap racing after coming to pit road for adjustments aimed to help the Mobil 1 Dodge turn better in the center of the corners. The field took the green flag near the midpoint of the race with Hornish posted in the 25th spot.

Hornish continued to battle a tight-handling condition in the center of the corners and practiced patience throughout the remainder of the race. The Mobil 1 crew continued to make adjustments to the No. 77 Dodge and as the race concluded with a green/white/checkered flag finish, Hornish raced hard to capture a 13th-place result at the paperclip-shaped short track.
“We tried to keep the car in one piece, not have any flat tires and play it smart all day,” said Hornish. “We didn’t have a 13th-place car, but we did what we needed to do to stay on the lead lap. We got the yellow flag when we needed it a couple of times and that kept us up there fighting for a top-15 finish. For the bad luck we’ve had this year, we’re pretty happy about today.”

Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch finished the race in 12th and 23rd place, respectively.
Hornish and the Mobil 1 team will enjoy the Easter weekend at home next week before heading to Phoenix International Raceway for the excitement of the first night race of the season on Saturday, April 10. Race coverage of the Subway Fresh Fit 600 will air live on the FOX television network beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.