Hornish Perseveres to Finish 34th at Martinsville Speedway MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2009) Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 34th in the Goodys Fast Pain...
Hornish Perseveres to Finish 34th at Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2009) Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 34th in the Goodys Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.
After qualifying was cancelled due to inclement weather on Friday, Hornish lined up to start the 500-lap race in the 32nd position after the field was set by 2009 owner points per the NASCAR rule book.
As racing action got underway, the Mobil 1 team prepared for a competition caution period on lap 40 due to consistent rains over the weekend. When an incident caused the caution flag to wave on lap 20, Hornish was posted in 27th place. He came to pit road for four tires and an air pressure adjustment only, as teams were not allowed to take fuel until the mandatory caution on lap 40. Hornish restarted the race in 32nd place.
When the competition caution flag was displayed, Hornish returned to pit road for right-side tires only, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Hoping to gain valuable track position with the quick stop, the Mobil 1 team picked up four positions and restarted the race in 29th place.
During subsequent pit stops in the first half of the race, the No. 77 team employed various pit strategies to maintain track position. At the midpoint of the race, Hornish was posted in the 30th position, running just one lap down to then-leader Denny Hamlin.
Hornish noted that the handling on the Mobil 1 Dodge was improved in the center of the turns near lap 300. Unfortunately, the No. 77 suffered a blown right-front tire on lap 344 and Hornish was forced to come to pit road under green flag conditions for right-side tires. He restarted the race in 35th place, four laps down to the leaders.
Hornish persevered for the remainder of the race and secured a 34th-place finish for the Mobil 1 team, which remained 32nd in the 2009 Cup Series owner point standings.
Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and David Stremme finished the race in 18th place and 22nd place, respectively.
"I like this track a lot, but never seem to run well here. We had a pretty good car but we had a tire go flat and that put us down early," said Hornish. "We never really had a chance to recover but we had a really good car. There were times in the race we were running lap times the same as the leader. We just need to make sure we dont have any tire failures or any small things that keep us from getting where we need to be."
Hornish and the No. 77 team head to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for the excitement of the Samsung 500 on Sunday, April 5, 2009.