Hornish Fights His Way to a 9th-Place Finish at Atlanta
September 2, 2012HAMPTON, Ga. (September 1, 2012) - Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished ninth in Saturday evening’s NRA American Warrior 300. The result marks Hornish’s 12th consecutive top-10 finish and with the outcome he maintains third in the championship standings.
Hornish qualified for the event in the sixth position after turning a lap of 31.606 seconds, or 175.243 miles per hour, around the 1.54-mile speedway during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. The 195-lap event got off to a slow start as 11of the first 15 laps were run under caution. When the action picked up in earnest at lap 15, Hornish was scored in the seventh position. By lap 42 the driver of the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge had moved up to the sixth position.
As the first long run of the evening progressed, Hornish reported that his Dodge Challenger was too free on corner entry and exit, but he was able to run competitive lap times and maintained a top-six spot in the order. At lap 50 crew chief Chad Walter called his driver to the pit lane, during which time the Penske Racing crew made chassis and air pressure adjustments while changing four tires and filling the Dodge Challenger with fuel. The Alliance Truck Parts crew performed an exceptional pit stop which moved the No. 12 up to the fourth position in the running order.
Hornish would maintain a consistent presence in the top-three over the next 60 laps as his Penske Dodge was strong over the long run on new tires. Just past the halfway mark there were two cautions in quick succession that resulted in Hornish losing a few spots and dropping to seventh in the running order as the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge became too loose through the corners after the tires had gone through a heat cycle.
A lap 118 caution brought the Penske Racing crew another opportunity to make improvements to the their Dodge Challenger’s handling. At lap 120 they changed four tires, added fuel and made further air pressure and chassis adjustments to address the loose-handling condition that Hornish felt. A few cars elected not to pit during this caution period which resulted in the lead cars being behind four slower competitors on the lap 126 restart, with Hornish scored 12th in the running order.
The Indianapolis 500 winning driver went to work and made his way into the top five over the next five laps, but by lap 135 he radioed in the car was still too loose and he was not able to get to throttle on corner exit. At lap 171 Hornish came to the pits for a green-flag stop and received a speeding penalty. After serving his “drive through,” Hornish lost several positions on the race track, including the loss of a lap to the leaders. A late-race caution allowed Hornish to make up his lost lap and he was able to battle his way back to a ninth place finish.
The result marks Hornish’s 12th consecutive top-10 result of the season.
“We were just way too loose all night long,” said Hornish. “We were able to get to the cars in front of us over the long run for the first half of the race and then later in the race we didn’t get any long runs for a while and our car just never got better. I made a mistake coming on pit road that put us behind and we were able to scrape a ninth-place finish out of it. We did everything that we could do with the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge. We might have been able to gain a few more spots and we gave it our best but, I think that we just had a top-10 car tonight.”
With the result Hornish and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge maintain the third position in the championship standings.
Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski finished second in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team will next race at Richmond International Raceway in the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 on Friday, September 7. Coverage will air live at 7 PM EST on ESPN. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90.
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