Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 16th in Thursday's first Gatorade Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500. After starting 23rd out of a field of 28 competitors, Hornish...
Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 16th in Thursday's first Gatorade Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500.
After starting 23rd out of a field of 28 competitors, Hornish raced his way into the top-five in the running order during the waning laps of the race before contact sent the Mobil 1 Dodge sliding down the track. The No. 77 team regrouped, and Hornish was able to secure a 16th-place finish in the Duel and a 29th-place starting position for the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Throughout the 60-lap sprint race, Hornish reported that the Mobil 1 machine was tight-handling through the corners. When the caution flag waved on lap 26 for a stalled race car on the track, Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a left-rear wedge adjustment. He restarted the race on lap 30 in 22nd place.
When the caution flag flew once again with just over 10 laps to go, Hornish was running in ninth place. A quick pit stop for right-side tires, fuel and additional wedge adjustments allowed Hornish to restart the race in the sixth position.
As the laps began to wind down and on-track action began to heat up, Hornish and the Mobil 1 Dodge suffered contact that sent the car sliding down the track in turn two, starting a multi-car accident behind the No. 77. Hornish came to pit road on lap 54 for service and restarted the race in 19th place. As the checkered flag waved, Hornish improved his position to post a 16th-place finish.
"The Mobil 1 Dodge was a bit too tight this afternoon," said Hornish. "We made some good adjustments to the race car and good calls in the pits and had worked our way up toward the front before the incident with 10 laps to go. There at the very end, I was in the wrong lane to really advance our position. We'll keep working on the Mobil 1 Dodge in the remaining practice sessions and we'll be ready to race on Sunday."
Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch finished sixth in the first Duel and David Stremme finished 12th in the second race of the day. Hornish will line up to start the 51st running of the Daytona 500 in 29th place, with Busch starting 13th and Stremme in the 24th position.