Hornish Battles Loose-Handling Car, Finishes 30th at Atlanta

September 6, 2010

HAMPTON, Ga. (September 5, 2010) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 30th in the Emory Healthcare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night after battling a loose-handling condition on his car for much of the race.

After starting the race from the 21st position, Hornish reported that the Mobil 1 Dodge was loose-handling on the exit of the turns. He came to pit road for service during the first round of green-flag pit stops on lap 44. After service for four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and track bar adjustments, Hornish rejoined the race and was posted in the 27th spot once all competitors had made their pit stops.

Another long green-flag run ensued and Hornish continued to battle the loose-handling condition which persisted all the way around the 1.54-mile track. On lap 65, Hornish fell one lap down to the leaders while running in 29th place.

As the sun set in the sky, Hornish came to pit road for scheduled green-flag service on lap 86. He received four tires, fuel and adjustments in hopes of alleviating the handling issues on the Mobil 1 Dodge. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish was running in 31st place, one lap down to the leaders.

Hornish once again made a green-flag pit stop on lap 122, and before the remaining cars had made their way onto pit road, a caution flag came out with Hornish running in 37th place, three laps down to the leaders. After making another pit stop, Hornish lined up for the lap 138 restart in 36th place. A caution on the restart allowed Hornish to stay out on the track and get the “wave around” to regain one of his lost laps. He restarted he race on lap 151 in 35th place, positioned two laps down to the leaders.

Hornish and the Mobil 1 team continued to work diligently in order to improve the handling on the No. 77 Dodge for the remainder of the 325-lap race, but the lap deficit was too great to overcome. Hornish finished the race in 30th place, three laps down to race winner Tony Stewart.

Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski finished the race in sixth and 25th place, respectively. Busch and the Miller Lite Dodge team clinched a spot in the Chase for the Cup as a result of the finish.

"It was a tough night for the Mobil 1 Dodge,” said Hornish. “We started off way too loose and could never get the car tightened up enough to get the right balance that we needed to be fast. Tire wear is so critical here that when your car isn't balanced just right, you have your hands full all night trying to find speed.  Congratulations to Kurt and the No. 2 team for making the Chase. They battled all night and got a well-deserved top-10 and a spot into the playoffs."

Still ranked 28th in the driver point standings, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team will head to Richmond International Raceway for the Air Guard 400 on Saturday night, September 11, 2010. Racing action will air live on the ABC television network beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The race will also be broadcast live on MRN and Sirius Satellite Radio.