Hornish Finishes 38th at Richmond International Raceway RICHMOND, Va. (September 7, 2008) -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished the rain-delayed Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at ...
Hornish Finishes 38th at Richmond International Raceway
RICHMOND, Va. (September 7, 2008) -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished the rain-delayed Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway in the 38th position on Sunday afternoon. Starting from the 37th spot, Hornish and team worked tireless to adjust the Mobil 1 Dodge during the race. The group was able to achieve a good balance on the race car but ultimately finished two laps down to the race winner.
The No. 77 Mobil 1 team is now 37th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup owner points standings, a mere 17 points out of 35th place.
After a weekend of rain due to Tropical Storm Hanna, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was ready to hit the track on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Due to the inclement weather and its effect on track conditions, NASCAR announced to the entrants that a "competition caution" period would be scheduled at lap 35 of the 400-lap race.
When the green flag dropped Sunday, Hornish reported to the team that the Mobil 1 Dodge was tight in the center of the corners and loose-handling on entry and exit. Hornish fell one lap down to the leaders on lap 34 and raced hard to remain the first car one lap down when the "competition caution" came out. He succeeded, and was given the "free pass" by NASCAR to return to lead-lap racing.
Hornish came to pit road on lap 38 in for four fresh tires and fuel, as well as air pressure, left-rear wedge and right-side track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 42 in 40th place.
Due to his track position, Hornish and the team agreed that there was nothing to lose and experimented with different racing lines on track, similar to those used by the leaders. The exercise worked, as Hornish posted competitive lap times and focused on advancing his way through the field. On lap 76, he relayed to the Mobil 1 team that the No. 77 machine needed better acceleration off of the corners.
When the caution flag waved on lap 96, Hornish was posted in 41st place, running one lap down to the leaders. Hornish radioed that the Mobil 1 Dodge was loose-handling while braking on entry and too tight in the center of the corners.
Hornish came to pit road on lap 98 for four tires and fuel, along with air pressure, wedge and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 102 in 39th place. When the caution flag waved on the restart for a single-car accident in turn two, crew chief Travis Geisler instructed his driver not to make a pit stop.
As the race advanced, Hornish was running in 38th place when the sixth caution of the day came out on lap 163. He informed the Mobil 1 team that he was still fighting the same issues, but the tight condition in the center of the corners was his biggest concern. Hornish came to pit road on lap 165 for four tires, fuel, and additional wedge and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 169 in 36th place.
By the mid point of the race, Hornish was posted in the 38th position, one lap down to then-leader Kyle Busch. The caution flag waved just a couple of laps later when the No. 1 car came down the track on the No. 77 Mobil 1 machine in turn four. Hornish spun but the race car was not damaged.
After the incident, Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel and track bar adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 207 in 40th place, two laps down to the leaders.
A series of cautions ensued, and the Mobil 1 team continued to work to improve the handling on the Mobil 1 Dodge. When the caution came out again on lap 297, the No. 77 team was within its fuel window and Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. A miscue between the jackman and rear-tire changer resulted in Hornish leaving the pits without the right-rear tire secure. It came off as he exited pit road and Hornish had to return for left-side tires. He restarted the race in 38th place, two laps down to then leader David Reutimann.
In the waning laps of the race, Hornish held his own on track and gained valuable seat time at the .75-mile D-shaped oval. He took the checkered flag in the 38th position, running two laps down to race winner Jimmie Johnson.
"It was a disappointing day for us and our Mobil 1 Dodge," said Hornish. "Without having much time in practice or qualifying, a lot of things were against us. We were loose to start the race. We made some pretty good changes during the race, but we just got too far behind too early."
Penske Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman finished in 10th and 33rd place, respectively.