Hornish Contends for Win at Pocono, Finishes 11th Overall

August 2, 2010

LONG POND, Pa. (August 1, 2010) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 PPG Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 11th in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday after leading the field during the waning laps of the race. The finish marks the fourth top-15 result in a row for the former open-wheel racing champion at the Pennsylvania track.

Hornish started the 500-mile race from the 15th spot and immediately reported that the PPG Dodge was tight-handling with no right-rear grip. When NASCAR displayed a competition caution on lap 15 following overnight rains in the area, Hornish was running in the 31st position. He came to pit road for four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and wedge adjustments. When the race restarted on lap 19, Hornish quickly advanced to the 27th spot and began to work his way back through the field.

As the first round of green flag pit stops approached several laps later, Hornish radioed that he needed the No. 77 Dodge to turn better in the center of all three corners. Running in the 29th position, Hornish came to pit road for scheduled green-flag service on lap 46 as the PPG Dodge received four tires, fuel and adjustments. When the pit stop sequence cycled through, Hornish was running in 28th place.

At the midpoint of the 200-lap race, Hornish was posted in the 31st position, two laps down to the leaders. In the second half of the race, Hornish and crew chief Travis Geisler employed a series of strategic calls that returned the PPG Dodge to the lead lap.

When the caution flag was displayed on lap 120, Hornish and the team opted not to pit and get the “wave around” in order to gain one lap back on the track. Just as Hornish was about to come to pit road under green-flag conditions for scheduled service on lap 145, another caution flag was displayed and many of the cars that were running one lap down chose not to pit and returned lead-lap racing. When a timely caution occurred on lap 157, Hornish was posted as the first car one lap down to the leaders and was the recipient of the “free pass.” Hornish and No. 77 Dodge were allowed to return to the lead lap as a result.

When a frightening accident involving Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch occurred on lap 165, Hornish was running in the 24th spot. The red flag was displayed and racing action was halted for nearly 28 minutes as a result. When the yellow flag came out and pit road opened to lead-lap cars, Hornish and the No. 77 team elected not to make a pit stop. The move catapulted the PPG Dodge into the race lead with just three laps on its tires and rain in the forecast.

The race was briefly stopped under red-flag conditions for rain with Hornish positioned in the top spot. The race eventually resumed with 21 laps to go and Hornish led the field to the green flag. He paced the race for nine laps and was able to remain inside the top five for much of the run before he eventually relinquished positions. Hornish took the checkered flag in 11th place. As a result, Hornish is now ranked 27th in the 2010 Cup Series driver point standings.

“We got the most we could possibly get out of the PPG Dodge today,” said Hornish. “We kept after it, kept it going straight and gave ourselves an opportunity at the end to almost get a top 10 out of it. This is one of my best tracks. Our worst finish here in the last five races was 26th and the other four have been top-15s. I always feel good about coming here; if we had a car like we had the last time we were here, I think we could have won the race.”

Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch finished the race in 20th and 33rd place, respectively.

Hornish and the No. 77 team head to Watkins Glen International next weekend for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen on Sunday, August 8, 2010. Racing action will air live on the ESPN television network beginning at 1 p.m. EDT. The race will also be broadcast live on MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio.