Penske Racing press release
HORNISH FINISHES 7TH AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
FORT WORTH, Tex. (November 5, 2011) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. Avis Dodge Challenger, earned an impressive seventh place finish in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Texas Motor Speedway in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. This event marked the tenth NNS race of the 2011 season for Hornish and his first start in the Avis Dodge.
Hornish began the 200-lap race from the ninth position, after posting a qualifying time of 29.116 seconds or 185.465 miles per hour, during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session. The performance marked the sixth time that the No. 12 Penske Racing entry started in the top-10 this season. The Avis Challenger started the race clean and was able to maintain his position throughout the first few laps of the race.
Early in the race, Hornish radioed to the No. 12 team that his car was loose into the entry of the corners, yet he was able to keep lap times that were consistent with what the leaders were running. By lap 42, Hornish had motored past current NNS points leader, Ricky Stenhouse Jr for the fifth position. As his run continued, Hornish began to worry about the right front tire of the car and quickly piloted his Dodge Challenge down pit road to the attention of crew chief, Chad Walter. After changing all four Goodyear tires and filling the car with fuel, the Avis crew radioed back that all tires came off the car without any issues. As Hornish came back on the track during lap 48, he was shown in the 16th position.
As the rest of the field cycled through pit stops under the green flag, Hornish found himself battling with the No. 60 of Carl Edwards for the lead. Deciding that it was still too early in the race to be battling for position, Hornish settled into the third position behind the No. 33 of Clint Bowyer. While still fighting a tight-handling condition, Hornish radioed to the No. 12 crew that the car needed to be better on the short runs.. As a caution on lap 90 came out due to debris along the back stretch, Walter sized the opportunity to improve the handling of the car by adjusting the air pressure of all four tires and adding two more cans of fuel.
As the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge reached the half-way mark, Hornish had settled into the sixth position but was growing increasingly unhappy with the adjustments made to the car on the previous stop. After making light contact with the wall, Hornish decided to adjust the line he was running on the track in order to minimize the loose handling condition he was now experiencing. Believing that a bad set of tires were the cause of Hornish’s loose condition, Walter ordered that all four tires be replaced when a much needed caution came on lap 115. Exiting the pits in the 11h position, Hornish noticed a significant difference upon the restart of the race and quickly made his way into the eighth position.
Upon completion of lap 165, Hornish brought his No. 12 Avis Dodge Challenger back down pit road for the final time of the afternoon. Having all four tires changed and a can of fuel added to the car, Hornish came onto the track in the eighth position. After two more quick cautions, the field was finally ready to race towards the finish. After a strong restart, Hornish found himself in the mix and was able to bring home a solid seventh place finish for the afternoon.
“We had some ups and downs today,” said Hornish. “We had a pretty good start to the race and worked our way forward. We had a set of tires, after the second caution, that set us back a bit. We’re not exactly sure what happened. It just made the car super free over the bumps so to come back and finish seventh is a good result. We’re happy to have Avis on our Dodge Challenger this weekend. Having three races at the end of the season will really help the chemistry of the team.”