CHARLOTTE, N.C.– Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger, finished in the ninth position in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event marked the 10th NNS race of the 2012 season and the eighth race for Hornish in the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge.
Hornish began the afternoon on the inside of the third row, in the fifth position on the grid. This marked his second top-five starting position of the season, which he earned by turning a lap of 30.284 seconds or 178.312 mph around the 1.5 mile track.
The No. 12 Dodge Challenger quickly found its way to the front of the field and was scored in third place at the completion of the first lap. Pleased with the car’s handling, Hornish was able to work his way up to the second position by lap 10. While maintaining his presence in the top-10, Hornish began to experience a tight handling condition and was concerned about the front splitter making contact with the track.
Crew chief, Chad Walter, called Hornish down pit road for a green flag stop at lap 52 and the crew went to work – changing all four tires, filling the car with fuel and making a wedge adjustment to address the tight handling condition. Unfortunately, a caution flag flew as the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge was making its way back on to the track and this forced Hornish to start at the tail end of the field in the 25th position. Working his way through traffic, Hornish drove his Dodge into the 12th position and was running lap times equal to those of the leader.
As the History 300 continued, Hornish radioed into Walter that the Penske Dodge’s handling had improved and that he was able to catch the cars in front of him. Working his way back into the top-10, the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge started to experience a slight vibration. The vibration continued but the team was able to address the issue when the caution flag flew again at lap 126. After inspecting the car for anything that may cause a vibration while it was in the pit box and sending Hornish back on the racing surface, the team found a deep, cut-like groove on the right rear tire.
Restarting in the ninth position, Hornish was becoming increasingly concerned with the handling of the car and wanted to return to the original set up. When another caution flew at lap 138, Walter called Hornish down the pit road to adjust the car back to where it started. With the laps continuing to wind down, Hornish was able to make his way back into the top-10.
During the final laps of the History 300, Hornish again began experiencing a tight handling Dodge Challenger and the vibration returned as well. Battling to the end, Hornish brought the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger home ninth in the finishing order.
Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski scored his first NNS victory of the season in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger.
“We had an OK car today. We lost track-position in our Alliance Truck Parts Dodge early in the race. We were a good enough car and more consistent than a lot of people but we were a10th off at the beginning and a 10th off of the best cars at the end. We might be able to gain a couple of positions on a start but then we would lose the positions,” said Hornish. “We need to get better track position to start and which will give us a better opportunity to race in clean air. We need to be smarter about what our car is doing before the race starts so that we don’t have to make so many changes throughout the race which will give us the opportunity to have a better track position and slug it out there at the end.”
The result marked the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge Challenger team’s eighth top-15 result of the season as they continue to gain valuable ground in the championship standings.
With this result Sam Hornish, Jr. and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger maintain the fourth position in the NASCAR Nationwide point standings.
The next NASCAR Nationwide Series event will be on June 2 at Dover International Speedway. The 5 Hour ENERGY 200 will air at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and it will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.