Pair of Tire Incidents Relegate Hornish to 25th at Bristol

August 22, 2010

BRISTOL, Tenn. (August 21, 2010) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 25th in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

After qualifying in the 25th spot, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team were focused on a strong run at .533-mile oval. Hornish relayed that the Mobil 1 Dodge was loose-handling entering the turns and tight-handling through the center of the corners. When the first caution flag of the race waved on lap 54, Hornish was running in the 27th position. He came to pit road for four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and track bar adjustments and restarted the race in 26th place.

A long green-flag run ensued, and Hornish radioed that the handling concerns on the No. 77 Dodge remained unchanged. On lap 122, Hornish abruptly radioed that he had a tire going down and he quickly came to pit road for right-side tires and fuel. He rejoined the race in 35th place, two laps down to the leaders.

When the caution flag was displayed just a couple of laps later, Hornish and crew chief Travis Geisler opted not to pit under caution in order to earn the “wave around” and regain one of the laps lost for the team. For the next 100 laps, Hornish raced to be the first car one lap down in order to return to lead lap racing in the event of a caution. When the yellow flag was displayed on lap 252, Hornish was the recipient of the “free pass” and returned to lead lap racing after making a pit stop for service by the Mobil 1 crew. He restarted the race in 27th place.

While running just outside the top 20, Hornish once again suffered a right-front tire issue and was forced to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 370. After receiving right-side tires, Hornish rejoined the race in the 25th position, three laps down to the leaders.

In the remaining laps of the race, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team raced hard to earn the best possible result. Despite a strong effort, Hornish finished the race in 25th place, three laps down to race winner Kyle Busch.

“It’s hard to figure out what is going on with the tire issue,” said Geisler. “It was in the sidewall that we were getting the cut. It doesn’t look like anything was rubbing. It’s an unfortunate deal. I don’t think we were going to have a great run tonight, but we certainly would have ended up a little better than we were if we could have kept the right front on it. We’ll go home, do some homework and figure out what we need to do better. We were best on short runs tonight. Late in the run, it seemed whatever was going on with the right front started to give up and the car got tighter and tighter.” 

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski finished the race in ninth and 19th place, respectively.

Still positioned 28th in the driver point standings, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team will enjoy a weekend off before heading to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Emory Healthcare 500 on Sunday night, September 5, 2010. Racing action will air live on the ESPN television network beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The race will also be broadcast live on PRN and Sirius Satellite Radio.