Sam Hornish Jr. Finishes 29th at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International ...
Sam Hornish Jr. Finishes 29th at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in the 29th position. After starting 42nd, Hornish worked his way through the field and was poised for his second top-15 finish in as many starts at the 2.5-mile tri-oval before he was collected in a late-race incident. The No. 77 team and owner Roger Penske now sit 35th in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series owner points standings.
Hornish immediately began working through the field once the race began. By the time the first caution flag waved on lap 19, he was in 20th place. Hornish reported to the team that the Penske Truck Rental Dodge was somewhat tight-handling and he came to pit road for four tires, a tank of fuel and a track bar adjustment. He restarted the race on lap 24 in 27th place.
When the second caution flag waved on lap 43 for a single-car incident, Hornish had continued his climb through the field and was in 12th place. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments, restarting the race on lap 47 in the 18th position.
By lap 60, Hornish had worked his way into the top-10. On lap 68, he radioed that the Penske Truck Rental Dodge was handling a little too loose overall. Luckily, the caution flag waved just one lap later and Hornish was able to come to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments. He restarted the race on lap 74 in the 15th position.
"Pit road is congested down here but you're doing a great job," crew chief Chris Carrier encouraged his driver as he exited pit road. "You're having a great night. Let's keep it up."
As the mid-point of the scheduled 160-lap race approached, Hornish was running in 16th place and relayed that the previous adjustments had tightened the handling of the Penske Truck Rental Dodge a bit too much.
On lap 108, while running in the 14th position, Hornish barely avoided involvement in an accident when the No. 19 car blew a tire and hit the wall directly in front him. Hornish came to pit road on lap 111 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. When racing action resumed, he remained in the 14th spot.
As the race wound down, Hornish remained within the top-20 in the running order. He radioed the team with an update on the Penske Truck Rental machine. "The car is as good as it has been all night," he said. "I'm just trying to stay in line because I don't seem to get much help when I try to make a move."
A series of caution periods ensued in the last 20 laps and pit strategy came into play for the No. 77 team. Although well within their fuel window, the team opted to pit under caution on lap 150 for four fresh tires and a splash of fuel when the leaders stayed out on track. Hornish restarted the race with eight laps to go in 27th place.
The new tires enabled Hornish to move quickly through the field under the green flag. He was running 18th when the caution waved once again bringing out a green/white/checkered flag finish.
The field's intensity increased dramatically when the green flag waved, as there were only two laps left to gain as many positions as possible. Hornish was up to the 13th spot when he was collected in a multi-car accident on the final lap. The Penske Truck Rental Dodge was heavily damaged and Hornish limped the machine across the start/finish line with multiple flat tires. Although the field was frozen at the time of the caution, Hornish fell to 29th place because he was unable to maintain speed to the checkered flag.
"Everybody knows that it is going to get crazy out there near the end of the race," said Hornish. "I hate how tonight turned out for the Penske Truck Rental team because we had a really good car and we were going to have a top-15 finish. At least we brought the No. 77 Dodge to the checkered flag, even if it was a little beat up. Tonight was another experience at Daytona, another one for the mental logbook, and hopefully we'll have some more things that I'll know to be able to do better next time."