HAMPTON, Ga. (March 8, 2009) -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 37th in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday after battling a loose-handling race car...
HAMPTON, Ga. (March 8, 2009) -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 37th in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday after battling a loose-handling race car for much of the afternoon.
Hornish started the scheduled 500.5-mile race from the 36th position and began diligently working his way through the field. The Mobil 1 team pitted under caution on lap 12 for right-side tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Hornish restarted the race a few laps later in 19th place as the timely call and solid work on pit lane gained the No. 77 team 10 positions on track.
Hornish noted that the Mobil 1 machine was loose-handling on entry into the turns and he came to pit road just before the first round of green-flag pit stops began for service. Running 31st, the No. 77 Dodge took on four tires along with fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments. The field began to pit a few laps later and an untimely caution flag came out during the final stages of green-flag stops, catching Hornish two laps down to the leaders in 20th position with only six cars remaining on the lead lap.
Hornish headed to pit lane at lap 150 for service on the Mobil 1 Dodge while running in 34th place with the second round of green flag stops beginning shortly thereafter. Once again, an untimely caution flag came out before the field had cycled through and the No. 77 team was caught in the 37th position, four laps down to the leaders.
As racing action continued, Hornish was involved in an accident on lap 205 and was forced to bring the Mobil 1 Dodge to the garage for repairs. Unfortunately, the damage to the car was substantial, ending the race early for the No. 77 team.
Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch captured his first win of the 2009 season after a dominant performance on track. Teammate David Stremme finished the race in 23rd place.
"We worked hard all afternoon to try and get a handle on the Mobil 1 Dodge, but it was loose on entry all day and couldn't find the right balance," said Hornish. "The team performed well in the pits but we got caught by a couple of cautions after we pitted that cost us valuable track position. Unfortunately, we were involved in an accident that ended our day early but we will regroup and move forward to Bristol."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will enjoy a weekend off next week before heading to Bristol Motor Speedway for the excitement of short-track racing in the Food City 500 on Sunday, March 22, 2009.