Tire Woes Force Hornish Jr. and Team to 41st Place Finish in Las Vegas LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 2, 2008) - Sam Hornish Jr. and the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 team kept the big picture in focus at the UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway...
Tire Woes Force Hornish Jr. and Team to 41st Place Finish in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 2, 2008) - Sam Hornish Jr. and the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 team kept the big picture in focus at the UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. The group was intent on having a solid run and gaining valuable owner points. Unfortunately, Hornish Jr. blew a right front tire early in the race and the team was forced to the garage for repairs. He was eventually able to get back on track and Hornish Jr. finished the race in the 41st position as he currently ranks 38th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season point standings and second in the Rookie-of-the-Year standings.
"We're focusing on the big picture here today," crew chief Chris Carrier radioed his driver before the race. "Let us know what you need once you get a feel for the car. We'll do all we can to keep you informed and keep up with the car today."
After starting 20th and with only a few laps of racing action under his belt, Hornish Jr. radioed that the Mobil 1 Dodge was free entering the corners and tight on the exit of the turns, particularly in turns three and four.
When the first caution of the race came out on lap nine, the team opted not to pit so early in the race in order to gain track position. Hornish Jr. restarted the race on lap 13 in the 11th position.
On lap 25, Hornish Jr. told his crew that the car remained loose on entry and tight on exit in the turns. When green flag pit stops began on lap 50, Hornish Jr. was prepared to bring the Mobil 1 Dodge to pit road when he blew a right front tire and hit the outside wall in turn two, causing substantial damage to the race car.
With heavy right front damage, Hornish Jr. brought the Mobil 1 Dodge to the garage and the team feverishly began making repairs. Just over one hour and 100 laps later, Hornish Jr. returned to race track.
Both Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon had also experienced tire problems and were either out of the race or in the garage for repairs as Hornish Jr. rejoined the race. Enough laps remained for Hornish Jr. to gain back those two positions so he fought back and was able to earn additional points.
As the race continued, the Mobil 1 team used its remaining pit stops to adjust the car and check tire wear. With the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge stabilized, Hornish Jr. completed the race in the 41st position, running 115 laps down to race winner Carl Edwards.
Penske Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch finished the race in 14th and 38th place respectively.
"We lost the right front tire in the tri-oval,' said Hornish Jr. "We were getting ready to pit that lap when the tire blew. Our car was pretty good right off the bat, although it was a bit free. It was really unfortunate because we were so close to pitting when that happened. The outcome of the race would probably have been different for us if we had come in one lap sooner."