Hornish Posts a Ninth-Place Finish at Kansas Speedway

October 21, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  (October 20, 2012) – Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished ninth in the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The result marks Hornish’s ninth top-10 finish of the season.

Hornish began the 200-lap race from the 12th position, based on his lap of 30.228 seconds, or 178.642 miles per hour, around the freshly resurfaced 1.5-mile oval. The race started under a sunny sky, warm temperature and a moderate breeze, which was considerably different than the cold cloudy conditions that the Penske Dodge encountered during the previous two days of practice.

As the race started, the Dodge Challenger held steady in the 12th position. Early in the run Hornish reported that the car was very loose entering the corner and it lacked right-rear stability. Yet, as the run progressed the car improved. When the first caution flag of the day was displayed at lap 14 the Alliance Truck Parts machine was scored 11th and the Penske Dodge crew elected to stay out. When the action picked up again at lap 20 Hornish was shown in the ninth position.

During the first few laps after the restart Hornish lost a few positions as his Dodge Challenger was too free into the corners. However, as the laps accumulated he would regain the lost positions. At lap 32 the second caution flag of the day was displayed with Hornish scored 10th. This set up a lap 34 pit stop during which crew chief Chad Walter called for fuel only, which resulted in the No. 12 gaining positions in the running order.

The green flag restarted the race at lap 37 with the Alliance Truck Parts car running eighth. Over the next 20 laps Hornish would maintain a steady presence in the top-10, running as high as fifth.  At lap 57 the field slowed once again for yet another caution period. As the team prepared for its stop Hornish reported that his Penske Dodge was still free on corner entry, but that it was building tight over the course of the run. Walter called his driver into the pit-lane at lap 58 for a four tire change, fuel and a wedge adjustment.

When the racing action resumed at lap 60 Hornish was scored 16th in the running order as some competitors had pitted earlier in the race and were on different strategies. By lap 70 the Defiance, Ohio native had worked his way into the top-10. At the half-way point Hornish was shown fourth in the order when he radioed in that he had a right-rear tire going down. He brought his Challenger to the attention of the Penske pit crew where he received four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. This unscheduled pit stop resulted in the No. 12 Dodge losing a lap to the lead cars.

The team employed a strategy that resulted in the No. 12 machine getting the Lucky Dog Award at a lap 129 caution period. When the green restarted the action Hornish was running 14th. By lap 160 he had moved up into the top-five. Over the last 40 laps of the race the Alliance Parts Dodge came to life and Hornish stayed in the top-five running as high as second-place.

With the No. 12 running in the third position a late race caution at lap 197 would set-up a green-white –checkered finish. As the field was coming to the green for a restart at lap 201 with Hornish in the third position, he radioed in that he was out of gas. He managed to nurse his Challenger to the pits where he received four tires and fuel. He would rejoin the field at the tail of the field to take the green flag and he was able to pass his way to a ninth-place finish.

Penske Racing teammate Ryan Blaney finished 11th in the Kansas Lottery 300 Saturday afternoon.

Following Saturday afternoon’s result, Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team remain fourth in the NNS championship standings.

“Chad thought we were good on fuel, and about the time he said that I felt the fuel pickup go sluggish,” said Hornish. “I think part of the problem was in the pickup. I felt it bog down. I restarted it, but we just didn’t have enough. I don’t think we would have stayed out on that last caution if we knew we would be that close. It was a tough end to what was looking like a good day for us – our Alliance Truck Parts Dodge was fast on long runs, especially so at the last part of the race.”

The No. 12 Penske Dodge team will next compete at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, November 3, in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. Coverage will air live beginning at 7 PM ET on ESPN. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90