HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2007) -- In Sam Hornish Jr.'s first, and last, event in the "current car", the driver of the No. 06 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger added more track time to his resume in preparation for 2008, finishing 37th in Sunday's Ford 400...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2007) -- In Sam Hornish Jr.'s first, and last, event in the "current car", the driver of the No. 06 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger added more track time to his resume in preparation for 2008, finishing 37th in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Hornish, the three-time Homestead IndyCar winner, qualified 29th at the 1.5-mile oval in his second career Cup start, but he had to begin the race at the back of the field for changing his car's engine after Saturday's final practice.
"Well, I have twice as much Cup experience as I had last week," Hornish said. "Every time I go out that's that much more experience. I'm really happy that Penske Racing gave me the opportunity to do this, this year and get started looking toward 2008. It's going to be a long, uphill process, but we've got a goal in mind and hopefully, we get there."
Early in the 267-lap race, Hornish slowly worked his way up to 34th with a loose handling race car, but he was lapped by the leader on lap 42. Eight laps later, during the first round of green flag pit stops, Hornish lost another lap when Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought out the caution when he spun entering pit road after being hit by Kyle Busch. Hornish was trapped on pit road when the yellow waved.
Ironically, Hornish regained his lost lap when Earnhardt Jr. spun again at the restart on lap 58 and the pace car picked up the leader.
"I didn't think we'd ever get that lap back," Hornish told his crew.
"You never know what can happen, so we just have to keep digging," crew chief Roy McCauley replied.
Hornish continued to run one lap down in the top-30 until suddenly, on lap 123, he scraped the wall exiting turn two. This wouldn't be Hornish's first kiss with the second-turn wall. On lap 127, Hornish went three-laps down after pitting to repair a slight fender rub on the right front.
On lap 194, Hornish scraped the third-turn wall, bringing out the sixth of seven caution flags. Damage repair pit stops followed twice during that caution period, putting Hornish down another lap.
"The car is waddling around underneath," Hornish told his crew on lap 199.
Hornish brought the Mobil 1 Dodge back down pit road and his team began feverishly inspecting and working on the car.
Nine laps down, Hornish kissed the second-turn wall on lap 237. Forced to pit again to inspect the damage, Hornish would lose another four laps to the leader. Determined to make the best of the situation, Hornish, McCauley and the Mobil 1 Dodge team utilized the remaining laps to practice pit stops and gain track experience.
"I'm real excited about next year," Hornish said. "I know it's going to be tough. I'm excited to see what happens; how we can learn throughout the year and how we progress."
Hornish will drive Penske Racing's No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in 2008.