Watkins Glen: Sam Hornish Jr race report

Sam Hornish Jr. Finishes 32nd at The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 32nd in the Centurion Boats at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on...

Sam Hornish Jr. Finishes 32nd at The Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finished 32nd in the Centurion Boats at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sunday. In an eventful race, Hornish was running on the lead lap as the checkered flag waved despite involvement in a stunning multi-car accident. Hornish and the No. 77 team remain 34th in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup owner points standings.

Due to rain on Friday, the starting grid for Sunday's race was set by owner points, and Hornish started the race in 34th spot. As the field approached the green flag for the start of the 90-lap race, Hornish and team were hopeful that the experience gained in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday would benefit their efforts in the Sprint Cup Series.

By lap 10, Hornish had worked his way up to the 21st position, marking a gain of 13 spots. He relayed to the team that the Mobil 1 Dodge was a bit too tight-handling and there was an overall lack of grip. With the first cycle of green flag pit stops on the horizon, the Mobil 1 team prepared to make adjustments to improve the No. 77 machine.

Green flag pit stops began on lap 20, and Hornish came to pit road for service on lap 23 while running in the 16th spot. The Mobil 1 crew changed four tires, added fuel, and made air pressure and track bar adjustments. When stops cycled through, Hornish was running in the 26th position.

As the mid-point of the race approached, Hornish was posted in the 29th position. Just one lap later, he ran off the track and through the gravel pit off of turn ten. In a show of skillful driving, Hornish was able to guide the Mobil 1 Dodge back on track undamaged.

Due to debris on the race track, NASCAR called for a caution period on lap 47. Now in 32nd place, Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel, an air pressure and a substantial track bar adjustment. The team also removed debris from the grille on the Mobil 1 Dodge and Hornish restarted the race on lap 50 in 34th place.

With fuel mileage strategy in mind, Mobil 1 team crew chief Chris Carrier informed his driver that the situation appeared to be favorable for the No. 77 team.

"I think this is going to work out in our favor," said Carrier. "We're going to have to pit again for fuel but so is everybody else. Just be smooth out there and we'll be fine."

Hornish came to pit road as planned for fuel only on lap 58 during a round of green flag pit stops, but reported that the handling of the Mobil 1 Dodge had not improved much. When another debris caution period began on lap 64, Hornish came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a substantial air pressure adjustment. He restarted the race in 33rd place with 25 laps remaining.

On lap 77, the caution flag waved for Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman, who had spun in turn one and was unable to restart his race car. In a display of teamwork, Hornish stopped on track and positioned himself behind Newman, pushing the No. 12 around the 2.45-mile track and back to pit road.

With the caution period still in effect, Hornish came to pit road on lap 79 for four tires and air pressure adjustments only. He restarted the race on lap 81 in the 35th position.

It was on lap 82 when Hornish was collected in a spectacular, multi-car accident on the front stretch, which saw the No. 77 broad-side into the barrel barricade at the pit road entrance at a high rate of speed. Despite the hard hit, both Hornish and the Mobil 1 Dodge emerged relatively unscathed.

NASCAR displayed the red flag, halting the race to clean up the nine-car accident, which lasted 43 minutes. When the red flag was withdrawn and the yellow flag displayed, Hornish came to pit road for service on lap 84. The Mobil 1 crew changed four tires, made air pressure adjustments and repaired minor fender damage. He restarted the race in the 30th position and ultimately finished in 32nd place.

"We need to work on making positive changes to Mobil 1 Dodge," said Hornish. "We just couldn't seem to make the car better today. I know part of that has to do with me telling the team what I want and need in the car. We'll keep working on it so we get to the point where we move forward."

"Sam assisting Ryan today showed what teammates are for," said Michael Nelson, Vice President of Operations, Penske Racing South. "It was a great help to Penske Racing for Sam to do this, and Sam remains in the ever-important top-35 in owners points."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ryan Newman , Sam Hornish Jr. , Sam Hornis , Chris Carr
Teams Team Penske