Bristol, Tenn. – Sam Hornish, Jr. driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished 13th in Saturday afternoon’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Hornish started the 300-lap event from the 23rd position on the grid based on his time from Saturday morning’s qualifying session when he lapped the high-banked, half-mile track in 15.917 seconds at an average speed of 120.550 miles per hour.
In the opening laps of the race Hornish radioed that the Alliance Truck Parts car was loose on corner entry, tight in the center and loose on corner exit. The driver from Defiance, Ohio had his hands full during the first one-third of the race while running steadily in the top-20, yet losing a lap to the leaders on lap 75. Hornish wrestled his Dodge Challenger around the high banks of Bristol until the first caution was displayed at lap 103. This gave the Penske pit-crew their first opportunity to make adjustments to the car, which included making changes to the track bar, as well as tire pressure adjustments. As Hornish was leaving his pit-box the rear tire changer of the car pitted in front of him ran into the front of the No. 12 Dodge, the crew member was not injured.
When the race resumed on lap 112 Hornish was scored in 17th-place, one lap down to the race leaders. During the next part of the race, Hornish reported that the car was good on entry and a little tight on corner exit. On lap 155 Hornish was working on finding the best way around the track when he spun on the exit of turn 2, bringing out a caution flag.
This gave crew chief Chad Walter and the Alliance Truck Parts crew another chance to address the Dodge’s handling issues, which they did with a wedge and tire pressure adjustment. The action resumed on lap 163 with Hornish being scored in the 18th position, the first car one lap down. On lap 165 the caution was displayed again, giving Hornish the wave around as the Lucky Dog. Hornish brought his Dodge Challenger to the attention of the Penske crew once again and they made minor adjustments to the car.
During the last 100 laps of the race Hornish raced his way from 16th to the 13th position, passing lap traffic and turning laps that were on pace with those of the leaders. However he once again fell one lap down. On lap 262 the caution flag was waved once more and Hornish once received his second Lucky Dog of the afternoon. The green flag waved on lap 272 with Hornish running in the 12th position. The last 28 laps were run without incident and Hornish brought his No. 12 Dodge Challenger to the checkered flag in the 13th position.
With today’s result Sam Hornish. Jr. and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger remains sixth in the NASCAR Nationwide point standings.
‘We’re not exactly thrilled about our finish but for starting where we did, spinning once, getting the lucky dog twice, we did alright,” said Hornish. “It’s tough when you get the lucky dog on the last restart here. You’ve got to start behind all the guys that are a lap down – you’ve got to pass 10 guys just to get to somebody for a position. We had the 33 (Kevin Harvick) right there with us and he got around us while we were trying to get through traffic, it was just one of those days. I feel like the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge team did a good job but we’re just not good enough yet, not where we need to be. We can get the car there throughout the course of the race, but we’ve just got to be better start to finish. We need to work on getting the car to turn a little bit better without being so loose getting off. Obviously not the finish that we wanted today but for issues that we had and the weekend that we had, we’ll take it and move on to California and hope that it gets a little better than this.”
Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski, finished third in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
The next NASCAR Nationwide Series event is at Auto Club Speedway. The Royal Purple 300 will air at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN and it will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.