Avondale, Ariz. – Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished sixth in Saturday afternoon’s Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR).
Hornish started the 200 – mile event from the outside of Row 3, in the sixth position, on the strength a solid qualifying effort earlier in the day. Hornish guided his Dodge Challenger around the Phoenix track in 27.189 seconds at an average speed of 132.406 miles per hour.
The event began with near perfect racing conditions under a clear, sunny sky with a mild breeze and moderate temperatures. The race started without incident and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts car immediately moved into the third position. As the race transitioned into a rhythm, Hornish reported that his Alliance Truck Parts car was “free” into the corners and it was lacking grip on exit. By Lap 10 Hornish had settled into the seventh position and he informed crew chief Chad Walter that the Dodge Challenger was getting better drive off of the corners but still not turning into the corner as well as he would like.
Despite not being completely satisfied with his racecar Hornish was able to run solidly in the top-seven for the first 42 laps of the race. During the first pit-stop his Penske Racing crew made several changes to the car to address the handling issues, which took a little bit more time than a standard pit-stop and resulted in the No. 12 Dodge slipping back into the 10th position.
As the race continued Hornish was plagued with handling issues once again, as his Dodge continued to be loose on entry and tight on the exit of the corner. During the middle segment of the race the winner of the most-recent NNS race at PIR kept his head down and concentrated on making the most of his ill-handling machine.
A late race caution for debris on Lap 162 gave the Alliance Truck Parts car crew the opportunity they needed to use pit-strategy to gain track position. As Hornish brought his car into the pit box Walter called an audible and for fuel and a wedge adjustment only. This call proved to be pivotal in the outcome of the race as it resulted in Hornish gaining five positions in the running order.
Hornish drove smart, yet aggressive, for the waning laps of the event and brought the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge home to a respectable and well-deserved sixth-place finish.
Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski, finished second in the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 on Saturday afternoon.
Following Saturday’s result, Hornish and the No. 12 team are ranked sixth in the NNS driver point standings.
“We had a good finish in the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge today,” said Hornish. “Chad made a great call to only take fuel and make wedge adjustment on the last pit-stop which took us from 11th to sixth. Our Challenger was a handful today and the Penske Racing crew did a great job of working on it throughout the race. We ended with a solid sixth-place and made up ground in the points battle so it was a good day.”
The NASCAR Nationwide Series next event is at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Sam’s Town 300 will air at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and it will also be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.