Hornish Survives Late Race Contact to Finish 14th

November 11, 2012

AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 10, 2012) – Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished  14th in the Great Clips 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday afternoon. The result marks Hornish’s 21st top-20 result of the season.

Hornish began the 200-lap race from the fourth position, based on his lap of 27.263 seconds at 132.047 miles per hour during Saturday morning’s qualifying session. As the field took the green flag to start the race, a quick yellow caution flag was displayed before the first lap was completed with Hornish holding the fourth position. The racing action picked up again at lap four and Hornish was shuffled back a few positions on the restart due to being in the unfavorable outside lane. As the field settled into race pace the 33-year-old driver radioed to the pit box that his Dodge Challenger was loose under braking early in the run. As the run progressed it built tight through the center of the turn, while lacking rear-end stability.

By the time the second caution of the race was displayed at lap 31 Hornish had settled into the eighth position in the running order. At lap 33 crew chief Chad Walter called his driver to the pits where the Penske Racing crew changed the two right-side tires with air pressure adjustments and added fuel. When the race restarted at lap 37, Hornish was scored in the eighth position. Once again, being on the outside lane on the restart proved to be a disadvantage as the Alliance Truck Parts machine slipped back to 13th place. Over the next 20 laps Hornish drove his Dodge Challenger up to 10th place.

A lap 68 caution set up a lap 71 pit stop during which the Penske Dodge crew changed four tires and topped off the fuel. The action resumed at lap 74 with Hornish running in the 13th spot. The Defiance, Ohio native would drive his way into the top-10 once again in short order. Hornish was running 10th when the third caution of the race was waved at lap 89. Hornish elected to stay on the racing surface while some competitors made their way to the pits and, as a result, the Alliance Truck Parts machine advanced to fifth place.

The green flag restarted at lap 94 and Hornish made his way into fourth place in one lap, a spot he held for the next 21 laps. A lap 119 caution preceded a lap 121 pit stop; this time the Penske pit crew changed four tires, made air pressure and chassis adjustments, and fueled their Dodge Challenger. Hornish was shown 13th in the running order when the green flag brought the field back to speed at lap 124. At this point Hornish began a steady charge towards the front making his way up into the top-10 by lap 147 when another yellow flag slowed the field.

On the lap 156 restart Hornish and Kyle Busch made contact which resulted in the Penske Dodge spinning and sustaining two flat right-side tires. The right-front tire unraveled as Hornish made his way to the pits which caused moderate damage to right-front of the Alliance Truck Parts machine.

Hornish was able to nurse the wounded machine into the pits where the Penske Crew changed four tires, and the time lost getting the damaged Dodge to the pit lane resulted in the No.12 losing one lap. Hornish was scored in the 24th position the first car one lap down at lap 177 when the yellow was once again displayed which earned him the Lucky Dog and placed him back on the lead lap. Over the closing laps of the race Hornish fought his way back up to 15th and after a late race red flag that brought a green-white-checkered, he finished 14th.

Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski finished ninth Saturday afternoon in the No. 22 Dodge Challenger.

“We had a decent run going until we got together with the 54 (Kyle Busch), I don’t know if he got loose or what happened, but he hit us in the left-rear and turned us around,” said Hornish. “The positive out of it was that he hit me hard enough that it just spun us. I never had any time to catch it. We got a little bit of damage from the tire being flattened and lost a lap and didn’t get back on the lead lap until 20 to go. That was the tough part about it for us. I had some real good restarts that helped us to gain four or five spots. The Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger was a little bit of handful at times and it was pretty good at times. We never got the consistency we needed. We’ll just go into Homestead and see what we can do there. We’re proud of all the work the guys put into it. We just need to be better.”  

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

The No. 12 Penske Dodge team will next compete at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, November 17, in the Ford EcoBoost 200. Coverage will air live beginning at 4 PM ET on ESPN2. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90 at 4:15 PM ET.