Talladega, Ala. (May 5, 2012) – Sam Hornish, Jr. driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished 12th in Saturday afternoon’s Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Hornish started the 117-lap event from the eighth position on the grid based on owner points after qualifying was cancelled due to rain on Thursday afternoon, which prevented the two scheduled practice sessions and dictated that the grid be set per the rulebook.
When the green flag signaled the beginning of the race at the 2.66 mile Superspeedway the No. 12 Penske Racing NNS team had a plan in place, which consisted of dropping back in the field in order to enhance their chances of avoiding the big wrecks that are inherent at this type of race track. The gambit paid dividends numerous times throughout the afternoon for Hornish as he was able to avoid being involved in at least three incidents that took place further up the running order.
The No. 12 Dodge Challenger spent the first two-thirds of the race in the neighborhood of 30th in the running order. It was at the conclusion of a lap 81 caution period when crew chief, Chad Walter radioed to his driver that it was time to make his way to the front of the field. At the lap 87 restart Hornish was scored in the 21st position and by lap 102 he had worked his Alliance Truck Parts car up to the fifth position.
He was able to maintain a steady presence in the top-10 for the next 10 laps until a series of late race cautions. At lap 117 the race was red flagged after several cars were involved in a major pile-up and an extended period of time to extract one of the competitors from his damaged car.
When the action resumed Hornish was scored in the eighth-position, but he had lost his drafting partner in the earlier melee as Brad Keselowski’s car was damaged as a result of contact. It took two attempts at the green-white-checkered flag finish and the Dodge Challenger had a right front tire go down at the exit of Turn 4 on the final lap. The tire issue caused Hornish to drift up to the wall as he crossed the finish line in the 12th spot.
“At the end of the day, we were trying to get a good finish and I got hit in the rear and got into the 87 (Joe Nemechek). It cut the right front tire; it didn’t cut it down, but it started going flat,” said Hornish. “Coming off four, the tire went flat. The 2 (Elliott Sadler) was pushing me which I appreciate, but at that time I didn’t need it. I was trying to get out from in front of him, but the car wouldn’t turn anymore. Then after the race was over, we got right-reared by the 7 car (Danica Patrick). I don’t know what she had in her head, but she decided to right-rear us, wreck the car after the race was over. That’s really frustrating. It’s not the worst day ever, but not what we wanted. I feel like we may have gone a little too early. We got separated and then Brad got wrecked. “
With today’s result Sam Hornish, Jr. and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger maintains the fourth position in the NASCAR Nationwide point standings.
Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski finished 20th in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
The next NASCAR Nationwide Series event will be on May 11 at Darlington Raceway. The VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 will air at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and it will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.
Sam Hornish Jr. Aaron’s 312 Race Statistics
Laps Led: 1
Points Position: Fourth