Hornish Finishes 31st at Darlington Raceway

May 9, 2010

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 8, 2010) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 31st at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night.

Hornish started the 61st running of the Southern 500 from the 25th spot and focused his attention on racing the track and not pushing too hard too early. After a handful of laps, Hornish noted a tight-handling condition on the Mobil 1 Dodge. When the first caution flag of the race was displayed on lap 46, Hornish was running in 28th place.

As the field came to pit road under caution, crew chief Travis Geisler called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Hornish lined up to restart the race on lap 50 from the 25th spot. A couple of caution flags came out shortly thereafter, and the team opted to stay out on track in hopes of gaining valuable track position. After another caution on lap 83, Hornish came to pit road for right-side tires, fuel and adjustments to the Mobil 1 machine. The strategic move advanced the No. 77 Dodge to 16th place.

As racing action continued, Hornish suffered two separate right-side tire issues within a 30-lap period, the last of which resulted in a hard brush with the wall. On lap 170, Hornish was forced to pit road under green flag conditions for service and repairs to the Mobil 1 Dodge. A caution flag was displayed while Hornish was in the pits and the team used the opportunity to make a series of pit stops to finish repairing the No. 77 car. Hornish restarted the race on lap 178 in 34th place, positioned two laps down to the leaders.

In what proved to be a long night for the No. 77 team, Hornish was able to remain on track for the duration of his third NASCAR Cup Series race at the “Lady in Black,” as he eventually secured a 31st-place finish. Hornish now sits 30th in the 2010 driver point standings, 149 points outside of the 25th position.

“It was a tough night for the Mobil 1 Dodge,” said Hornish. “We started 25th and worked our way all the way inside the top 15. From there, we had two separate right-rear tire issues and brushed the wall in Turn 2. We had to make a series of pit stops for repairs which put us behind. We had a couple of other incidents afterwards and we just couldn't get back on the lead lap again. It was a long night and things just didn’t seem to go our way. I like unique tracks like Darlington, but I haven’t had much success here. This is definitely a track that I will circle for next year.” 

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski finished the race in third and 12th place, respectively.
Hornish and the No. 77 team head to Dover International Speedway next weekend for the excitement of the Autism Speaks 400 on Sunday, May 16. Race coverage will air live on the FOX television network beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. The event will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.