Hornish Finishes 18th at Dover International Speedway Sam Hornish Jr, driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, captured his second top-20 finish in a row with a 18th place showing in the Best...
Hornish Finishes 18th at Dover International Speedway
Sam Hornish Jr, driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, captured his second top-20 finish in a row with a 18th place showing in the Best Buy 400 at the one-mile Dover International Speedway. Battling a tight-handling car for most of the race, Hornish was running in the top 10 when a pit road violation cost the team valuable track position. The Penske Truck Rental team then fought back from adversity, reclaiming a top-35 position in the 2008 NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings.
Starting from the 16th position, it took only five laps for Hornish to relay that the Penske Truck Rental Dodge was loose on entry and tight on the exit of the corners. Ten laps later, an 11 car accident coming off of turn two brought out a red flag for just over 16 minutes.
Hornish took the opportunity to provide feedback to the team. "The car got free," he said. "The tight on exit went away and the car was free all around the corners. I don't think the tightness is an issue as much as the loose condition we've picked up."
With a competition caution slated for lap 30 due to rain during the practice sessions, the team planned not to pit when the red flag was withdrawn and the yellow flag displayed. However, once pit road was opened, NASCAR declared it the competition caution and Hornish came to pit road for right side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The two-tire move gained the Penske Truck Rental team four spots in the running order. Hornish restarted the race on lap 26 in 10th place.
When the caution flag waved again on lap 66, Hornish reported that the No. 77 machine was free on entry and exit of the corners. He came to pit road on lap 67 for four tires, fuel, track bar and wedge adjustments. Unfortunately, the No. 77 was caught speeding on pit road after the stop and was forced to restart the race from the tail end of the longest line on track. He dropped to 30th place in the running order and was tasked with working his way through the field of competitors.
By lap 100, Hornish was posting top-10 lap times while running in the 22nd position. A long green flag run ensued and the field became spread out on track. On lap 129, Hornish fell one lap down to the leader, still posted in 22nd place.
When green flag pit stops began around lap 147, Hornish updated the team on the Penske Truck Rental Dodge. "We're free on entry, tight in the center and loose on exit," he reported. "It's the tight in center that is keeping us from going any quicker."
Running in 17th place, Hornish pitted under green flag conditions on lap 150. He came to pit road for four tires, a tank of fuel, along with air pressure and wedge adjustments. Just one lap after rejoining the race, the caution flag waved with Hornish in 22nd place, running one lap down to the leaders.
The Penske Truck Rental team opted not to pit and Hornish restarted the race in the 21st position. Only 16 cars remained on the lead lap.
By the mid-point of the race, Hornish was in the 21st position, running one lap down to the leader when he reported that No. 12 Dodge was very tight overall. On lap 210, he fell another lap down to then-leader Carl Edwards.
Another round of green flag pit stops began around lap 225. Running in 18th place, Hornish came to pit road on lap 232 for four tires, a full tank of fuel, track bar and wedge adjustments. Just as green flag stops were drawing to a close, the caution flag waved for debris. Hornish was in 20th place running two laps down. He relayed to the team that the handling of the car was unchanged even after the stop.
Crew chief Chris Carrier made the call to come to pit road on lap 245 for right side tires, fuel and a reversal of the previous wedge adjustment. Keeping fuel mileage in mind, he advised his driver to be smooth and conserve fuel.
With 100 laps to go, Hornish held steady in 20th place running two laps down to then-leader and eventual race winner Kyle Busch.
Hornish made his final pit stop of the race under green flag conditions on lap 323. Pitting for four tires, fuel, air pressure and track bar adjustments, he restarted the race in 19th place.
As the race came to an end, Hornish continued to fight for position, racing for valuable owner points in order to return to the top-35 in the Cup Series owner point standings. As the checkered flag waved, he crossed the finish line in 18th place, marking his second top-20 finish in a row.
The No. 77 team and owner Roger Penske now sit 33rd in the 2008 Cup Series owner points standings, a mere 45 points out of 30th place.
"It was a long day for sure. We should have been a lot better than where we ended up," said Hornish. "I sped out of pit lane and that hurt us. I think we would have had a top-15 so it cost us a couple of spots.
"The Penske Truck Rental guys did a great job for me in the pits. I feel like these are the finishes that we should have been having all year. I feel like we're starting to turn the corner a little bit so hopefully we'll keep it going."