Hornish Earns Hard Fought Ninth-Place Finish At Las Vegas

March 11, 2012

Las Vegas, Nev. (March 10, 2012) – Sam Hornish, Jr. driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished ninth in Saturday afternoon’s Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Hornish started the 300 – mile event from the 13th position on the grid based on his time from Saturday morning’s qualifying session when he lapped the fast, 1.5-mile track in 30.126 seconds at an average speed of 179.247 miles per hour.

The field took the green flag under blue skies, a comfortable temperature with just a hint of a breeze. The No. 12 Dodge Challenger was very strong in the opening laps of the race as Hornish was able to gain one position per lap for the first five laps. When the first caution flag was displayed on Lap 10, Hornish was running in the top-five. At this point crew chief Chad Walter elected to leave the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge on track as none of the lead cars pitted.

As the race progressed the Ohio native reported that the car was beginning to free up on entry to the corner and that this was a progressive trend on long green flag runs.  On Lap 25 the caution flag was displayed once again and this time the No. 12 Dodge came into the pits for service. The crew made multiple changes to the car to address the loose-handling condition.

While the laps continued to accumulate Hornish radioed that the car was loose in Turns 1 & 2 and tight in Turns 3 & 4. He also informed Walter that he was trying different lines on the track to see if there was a place where the car would turn better. At Lap 68 another caution flag presented the Alliance Truck Parts crew another opportunity to make adjustments to the ill-handling car, while changing all four tires and filling the car with fuel.

Despite having a car that was not to his liking, Hornish was able maintain a steady presence in the top-10 for the majority of the race. On Lap 95 another caution flag was displayed and thus prompted another pit-stop and more changes to the Dodge Challenger. The team elected to go with just two tires and a chassis adjustment on this stop and by doing so they gained valuable track position as the No. 12 Dodge was scored in the third position when the action resumed.

Once again the car was great for the first five laps, but the handling would deteriorate over the duration of a long green flag run. On Lap 144 the Penske Dodge came to the pits for the last time in the race and once again the crew changed tires, fueled the car and made adjustments to improve the handling of the No. 12 machine.  As the laps wound down Hornish made every effort to find a way around the track that would appease the spirited car, but in the end it refused to be tamed and he had to settle for a ninth-place finish.

“We didn’t have a very good car today,” said Hornish. “We were strong on restarts for the first five laps and then as the run went on we just lost the handle on our Alliance Truck Parts Dodge. Chad and the crew did a great job of making changes to the car and gave me solid pit-stops all day, but we just didn’t get the car to handle the way we needed to get further up the order. We definitely learned a lot of valuable information today and now we will move on to the next one.”

With yesterday’s result Hornish remains sixth in the Nationwide Series point standings.
Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski finished 23rd in the Sam’s Town 300 on Saturday afternoon.

The next NASCAR Nationwide Series event is at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Ford EcoBoost 300 will air at 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN and it will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.