Phoenix II winning team interview

Dodge Motorsports press release

Sam Hornish Jr., Penske Racing Dodge
Sam Hornish Jr., Penske Racing Dodge

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger R/T)

“We had a good day. We had a good car. It’s been a great day. We had a good car starting out the race. We hung out fifth or sixth-place and eventually came down and decided to go for two tires. I don’t know what else he changed but that thing turned so much better than what we had. Man, I’m so happy about it. I came out here and I saw the new race track and I’m like ‘I don’t know’ but I love it now. It’s been a lot of fun. Phoenix has always been one of my favorite places. I started my first Nationwide race here, my first Cup race here, won my first Indy car race here and won my first Nationwide race. We’ve got some more work to do, obviously, but I feel blessed to be here and drive this Alliance Truck Parts Dodge. I’m thankful for all of our supporters at Penske Racing and also Nationwide for what they do, Shell/Pennzoil, and most importantly Roger (Penske) for keeping me in the car. We had a partial schedule and this year. He gave us the opportunity to come out here and run once in a while. We felt like there were a couple of other times this year we had an opportunity to win so it feel great to win. We’ll just keep working.”

ROGER PENSKE (Founder and Chairman, Penske Corporation)

TALK ABOUT THE LAST YEAR FOR PENSKE RACING IN NATIONWIDE. “Well I feel for Sam. He’s been real humble for the last 12-18 months, coming off being an Indy 500 winner, coming over here and aspirations to run up out front. Maybe I made a mistake putting him at the top when he couldn’t practice but the two of us decided to stay together. I’ve got to thank Chad (Walter, Crew Chief) and obviously Sam because a lot of the success we’ve had on the Cup side has been because these guys have been doing all the testing. I think this sets up for what we want to do next year. Obviously our goal is to run for the championship in Nationwide with Sam next year. Alliance is our partner and Chad the crew chief and this is a great win for us. Both of the cars running one-two is pretty special because there’s real competition out there today and to run here on a new track is exceptional. I just want to thank Sam. I remember when we raced here when we went back in Indy and Sam whipped us here with that yellow Pennzoil car. I’ll never forget that. This is a special place for us.”

CHAD WALTER (Crew Chief, No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger R/T

“Somebody asked me earlier, this is a real special one because coming off a full Nationwide schedule for two seasons and not quite being able to put all the pieces together and back that up for a full season was a little disappointing, a little disheartening. I manned-up and got over it, and we went out and did the work that we were asked to do. I think that week in and week out helps and this is a big accomplishment to come in here and race hard, race smart; not necessarily have the best race car for 100, 150 laps but not take yourself out of position to maybe get back in there and give it a shot. He raced probably one of the best in the business right now in his teammate Brad Keselowski. Had a good restart against the 20 and the 6 and the guys who are week in and week out regulars. We beat ‘em. We beat the pants off ‘em. This guy, and I’ve said this before about him, we come in here and do this week in and week out, we don’t have to win every race. It’d be nice but it’s not probable but we can come in here and be competitive week in and week out we’re looking at a good future at Penske racing.”

PENSKE: DID YOU EVER DOUBT THAT SAM WOULD WIN IN NASCAR? “Well we won in NASCAR. We won the all-star race at Charlotte, what, three years ago I guess it was. So we had a win there. I said to him that we’re going to put this together one way or another. I think what Chad talked about having to step back, and to do the work they did to keep the team going and literally piece it together and this is a byproduct of hard work and commitment. You’re going to see a lot of Hornish in the winner’s circle in the future.”

HORNISH: I don’t know if I was always as optimistic as Roger is but Roger told me to keep my head down and don’t beat myself. I look back at 2008 and felt like I had a great opportunity in 2008, coming over and running and what happened that year was I’d been so accustomed to being first all the time that when I came over I didn’t how to take a 15th. Two 15ths beat a first and a 43rd. It took me a while to be able to get back there and plus you race every weekend and this year has been something to think about. I want to run every lap that I can possibly run out there and Roger told me after last week’s race at Texas that we had a car that could win. We just had a bad set of tires that just didn’t fit our car quite right and we went back to like 12th or 13th. We got back up to seventh and Roger told me I was my own worst critic. You just have to do the best that you can and continue to move forward. I’m glad that I stuck it out. This is what want. I came over here not because there was more money or anything like that. It was because I got an opportunity. I was interested in it, I got an opportunity to run some Nationwide races throughout 2007, and after doing that I got to see that there was something different out there to challenge me again. Was it the challenge I thought it was? Heck yeah it was. It was a big challenge for sure. I don’t think I ever got to a point where I didn’t feel like if I kept my head down and I put myself in the right position I was going to win.”

COMMENT ON YOUR EMOTIONS AFTER THE CHECKERED FLAG AND ON THE COOL DOWN LAP. “It went a lot easier for me than I thought it was going to. The cool down lap was great and even coming down pit road because there was a lot of guys that were excited. One of the toughest things was, running the Dan Wheldon visor strip, he ran his first two races at Panther as my teammate. I wouldn’t say that we were the best of friends but we raced the heck out of each other quite a bit. We actually tied for the 2006 championship. He’s somebody I’ll miss racing quite a bit.”

WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU’VE BEEN THIS EMOTIONAL? “I’ve been pretty emotional at times. I feel like there’s a lot of good days. Today is great but tomorrow is going to be even better ‘cause I’m going to see my little girl for the first time in a week-and-a-half. Two weeks ago I was getting my little girl ready for bed and I couldn’t take my eyes off her and she turned to me and said she told me ‘I’m complicated.’”

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About this article
Drivers Dan Wheldon , Brad Keselowski , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske
Tags dodge, hornish, penske, walter