Hornish Scores Fifth-Place Finish at Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 16, 2009) -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished the Carfax 400 at Michigan International ...
Hornish Scores Fifth-Place Finish at Michigan
BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 16, 2009) -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished the Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway in the fifth position on Sunday.
Starting the 200-lap race from the 14th spot, Hornish battled a loose-handling race car throughout the afternoon. The Mobil 1 team worked tirelessly in the pits to make improvements to the Mobil 1 machine over the course of the 400-mile race. Despite a costly one-lap penalty for fueling twice as the "free pass" recipient, Hornish and the Mobil 1 team employed impressive fuel-mileage strategy to secure the team's second top-five finish in its last three starts.
"It was an eventful day to be sure," said Hornish. "We got the car right when we needed it to be. We all kept our heads down working at it and saved enough fuel to get to the end. It was a good day for us. Obviously, we want to be a little bit better. The guys on the Mobil 1 Dodge, they stuck with it. It's a big day for me to come up here and get a top-five at Michigan, my home track. It feels pretty darn good."
Shortly after the race began, a passing rain shower halted competition briefly, with Hornish already advancing to the 10th spot. As racing was set to resume, the Mobil 1 team opted not to pit in order to maintain track position, as many of the leaders employed the same strategy. Hornish noted that the No. 77 Dodge was loose-handling overall as the team prepared for the first pit stop of the day.
On lap 40, Hornish came to pit road under green flag conditions for four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and wedge adjustments. When pit stops cycled through, Hornish was running in the 21st position.
A caution flag just over 10 laps later gave the Mobil 1 team the opportunity to continue to make improvements to the race car. A setback in the pits dropped Hornish to 32nd place on the restart. Undeterred, Hornish began working his way back through the field. By lap 75, he was just outside the top-20 in the running order.
The Mobil 1 Dodge remained loose-handling all the way around the track and the No. 77 crew continued to make adjustments to the car during subsequent pit stops. A timely caution flag came out on lap 116, just as Hornish was passed by the race leader, and the Mobil 1 Dodge was positioned as the first car running one lap down.
As the recipient of the "free pass," Hornish was poised to return to lead-lap racing. After coming to the pits for service, he returned to pit road before the race restart sensing a tire vibration. As the crew changed tires, they also took additional fuel, which is a violation of NASCAR rules for free pass recipients. Hornish was forced to serve a one-lap penalty and dropped to 35th place in the running order.
When another caution flag was displayed for light rain on lap 146, Hornish was once again the recipient of the "free pass." Back on the lead lap, Hornish began an impressive forward march and was running in 23rd place on lap 159 when the yellow flag was displayed.
With several cars needing to take on fuel to make it to the end, the Mobil 1 team opted not to pit and Hornish began conserving fuel in hopes of making it to the checkered flag without returning to pit road. Hornish held on to capture a fifth-place finish for the Mobil 1 team. Hornish is currently 26th in the 2009 driver point standings, 178 points outside of 20th place.
Penske Racing teammates David Stremme and Kurt Busch finished the race in 13th and 36th place, respectively.
Next weekend, Hornish and the No. 77 team gear up for the excitement of Saturday night racing in the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.