Sam Hornish Jr. Charlotte Race Report

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Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sam Hornish Jr finishes 12th at Charlotte Motor Speedway

CONCORD, N.C. – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger, finished 12th Saturday afternoon in the Top Gear 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This event marked the fifth NNS race of the 2011 season for Hornish and his third start in the black and yellow colors of the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge.

Hornish started the race from the seventh position after posting a qualifying time of 29.218, or 184.818 miles per hour, during Saturday morning’s qualifying session. The No. 12 Dodge Challenger started the race strong and remained in the top seven until the NASCAR mandated competition caution on lap 25 to allow teams to check tire wear after overnight rain showers moved through the area, washing the track clean of tire rubber.

The car handled pretty good ...

Sam Hornish Jr.

Crew chief, Chad Walter, brought the No. 12 Dodge Challenger down pit road for two tires and one can of fuel in order to gain track position. The decision paid off when Hornish restarted the race in the fourth position. Lap 43 brought on a vibration in the right front corner of the car, which Hornish thought was caused by a bad tire. The team opted to race conservatively and wait for the next caution period before coming back down pit road.

The third caution of the race came on lap 72, when the No.41 of Jeffrey Earnhardt blew an engine coming down the front stretch. The Alliance Truck Parts team replaced all four Goodyear tires, gave the Dodge a splash of fuel and took a half round of wedge out of the right rear of the car, hoping to correct the vibration Hornish was experiencing during the last run.

At the half way point of the race, Hornish found himself running in the 12th position, keeping pace with the leaders. On lap 120, the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge broke back into the top ten after passing the No. 20 of Joey Logano. With 15 laps to go until the next pit stop, Hornish and Walter started to discuss what changes needed to be made in order to keep up their momentum.

Sam Hornish Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr.

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

During a green flag stop on lap 139, the team changed all four tires, filled the Alliance Truck Parts machine with two cans of fuel and took a spring rubber out of the right rear. Unfortunately, Hornish had to come back down pit road for a pass through penalty due to the right rear tire not being rolled back to the pit wall correctly. This left the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge one lap down in the 21st position.

With only 47 laps left to go in the race, Hornish found himself battling with five other cars for the “Lucky Dog” award. By lap 160, he had raced his way into to position to receive the award, if the caution would have flown. In the final laps of the Top Gear 300, Hornish found himself fighting another vibration. With no other caution flags being waved, he had no choice but to hang on until the end of the race. As race winner, Matt Kenseth, cross the start finish line, Hornish was behind him in the 12th position, one lap down.

“A solid day except for our pit stops,” said Hornish. “We were as good as the 22 (Brad Keselowski) and they ended up sixth. 1162487 with the 22, but we had that pit road violation with a tire. It was good enough to get us back to the first car a lap down before it started vibrating, but the caution never came out. After the way that we had practiced the other day, I thought we would have an opportunity to compete for the win this afternoon. The car handled pretty good and I’m proud of Chad (Walter, crew chief)) and the guys that work on the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger.”

-source: penske racing

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Series NASCAR-NS
Tags dodge, nationwide, penske racing