Penske Racing press release
HORNISH RALLIES BACK TO FINSH 12TH AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
CONCORD, N.C. (October 14, 2011) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger, earned a hard fought 12th-place finish in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage. This event marked the ninth NNS race of the 2011 season for Hornish and his sixth start in the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge.
Hornish began the 200-lap race from the seventh position, after posting a qualifying time of 29.356 seconds or 183.949 miles per hour, during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session. The performance marked the fifth time that the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge started in the top-10 this season. The No. 12 Challenger started the race clean and was able to maintain his position throughout the first few laps of the race.
Early in the race, Hornish radioed in to the No. 12 team that his car was tight when entering the turns, yet he continued to motor past the No. 20 of Joey Logano and pull away. While continuing his run, Hornish moved to the high side of the track in order to gain a better entry into the corners. On lap 25, the first caution flag of the race flew, allowing the Alliance Truck Parts crew to work on the car – making an air pressure adjustment to the right side tires and going down one round on the track bar allowing the car to turn better into the corners. When the green flag waved to restart the race on Lap 28, Hornish was shown in 11th position.
As the race resumed, Hornish reported that the car was still tight and, due to this condition, he was not able to complete any passes.. After staying out during a quick caution on lap 39, Hornish quickly made himself part of a three-wide pack on the restart and was able to power past the No. 7 and No. 62 entries. While continuing to fight a tight handling Dodge Challenger, Hornish cracked his way into the top-10 for the first time of the evening. As crew chief, Chad Walter, called Hornish down pit road again on lap 68 out of the scheduled 200, he instructed the No. 12 crew to change all four tires and make a right side track bar adjustment in order to improve his grip upon exiting the corners.
As the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage reached the half-way mark, Hornish was able to maintain the 11th position, despite experiencing a small vibration at the front end of the car. As green flag stops began to roll through the field, Hornish radioed in that the tight condition that he had experienced earlier in the race was gone, but he was now too loose. Walter called Hornish down on lap 118 in order to make yet another track bar adjustment, only this time accompanied by adding a spring rubber to the right rear of the car in order to tighten up the car. Unfortunately, these changes did not improve the car’s handling and Hornish found himself in the 25th position, 2 laps down to the race leaders
When another quick caution came out on lap 127 for the No. 99 of Ryan Truex, Walter called for Hornish to stay out on the track in order to get the “wave around” and gain one of their laps back. This moved the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger into the 20th position, the last car one lap down. While the vibration still haunted Hornish, his Dodge was becoming increasingly loose, causing him to give spots away on the track. Hornish was able to receive some assistance with the handling of the car when he piloted the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge down pit road during a caution on lap 171. The Alliance Truck Parts Crew removed the spring rubber that they had added during the previous stop, allowing the car to tighten back up to where Hornish was able to pass cars out on the track.
As the green flag flew with only 24laps to go, Hornish found himself in the 18th position, the first car one lap down. Due to debris being spotted in turn four, the caution flag flew again on lap 185. This allowed Hornish to get move back on to the lead lap in the 17th position. Once again, cars began to battle for position on the closing laps of the race. Hornish found himself in the mix and was able to rally back to finish the night in the 12th position.
“That last restart, we went from 14th to sixth and then lost six spots in the next four laps,” said Hornish. “The car wouldn’t turn and as soon as I would get back into the throttle, I couldn’t keep the backend under me, all-in-all I guess we should be happy with a 12th place finish. With the job I thought I did on restarts in getting track position, it’s just disappointing that we couldn’t keep our spots. We’ve got to be better. We’ve got to run more weekends and not have so many off weekends where we get behind. All-in-all, we finished 12th with our Alliance Truck Parts Dodge and that’s probably a little better than where we should have been. You just have to make the most out of it some days.”