NEWTON, Iowa (May 20, 2012) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Detroit Genuine Parts Dodge Challenger, finished in the 12th position after Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway. The event marked the ninth NNS race of the 2012 season for Hornish and his first start in the Detroit Genuine Parts Dodge.
Hornish began the afternoon on the outside of the first row, in the second position on the grid. This marked his first top-five starting position of the season, which he earned by turning a lap of 23.632 seconds or 133.294 mph around the seven-eighths mile track.
The No. 12 Dodge Challenger quickly found its way to the front of the field and took the lead on lap one. Pulling away from the rest of the field, Hornish was able to distance himself from the rest of the field and maintain the lead for the next 30 laps of the 250-lap race. As the competition began to heat up, Hornish radioed into his crew that the car was tight in the center of the turns which they planned to fix by making an air pressure adjustment during the first pit stop.
While maintaining a consistent presence in the top-five, Hornish was able to work on his arch into the entry of turn one which helped the handle of the Dodge Challenger on the exit of turn two. At lap 73 the first yellow flag of the afternoon was displayed, giving the Penske crew their first chance to make adjustments to the No. 12. After changing four tires and filling the tank with fuel, crew chief Chad Walters, also called for a track bar adjustment in order to address the handling issues Hornish was experiencing.
As the green flag waved again at lap 84, Hornish restarted in the sixth position but quickly fell back a few positions, still unhappy with the handling of the car and stuck in traffic. After a string of green flag laps, the crew received a second chance to go back on their previous adjustments when the caution flag flew at lap 115 due to an accident along turns 3 and 4 involving the No. 7 of Danica Patrick. Walter called for all previous air pressure and chassis adjustments to be reversed along with the addition of four scuffed tires to the Detroit Genuine Parts Dodge.
Taking the green flag at lap 120 in the sixth position, Hornish began working on the traffic in front of him to make up the positions he had lost earlier in the race. With the handling of the car improving, the driver of the No. 12 Penske Dodge was able to gain momentum going into the second half the of race. Making a green flag stop at lap 174, the pit crew faced an issue changing the right front tire due to the fender being pushed in resulting in Hornish rejoining the field two laps down.
Luck seemed to be on the team’s side when the yellow flag was quickly displayed at Lap 181 and Hornish was able to get the wave around, gain one lap back and restart at the tail end of the field in the 16th position. Knowing he had to race three other cars for the “lucky dog” position, Hornish put the pedal to the metal and quickly picked up momentum. While the car was still had a tight condition, Hornish was able to turn laps consistent with the times of the cars running in the top five.
As the laps wound down, Hornish’s determination to make it back into the top 10 was evident as he feverishly pursued the cars ahead of him and worked his way back up to the ninth position with 22 laps left in the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250. With ten laps to go, Hornish found himself in a battling Penske Racing teammate, Parker Kligerman for the eighth position. Just as it appeared that Hornish had salvaged a top-10 finish out of a challenging afternoon, the No. 12 Dodge Challenger blew a right front tire while completing the last lap of the race, which resulted in a 12th place finish at Iowa Speedway.
“We corded the right-front tire on the first run. We corded another on the third run of the day and blew a right-front tire on the last lap with only 40 laps on the tire,” said Hornish. “We had worked our way from being two laps down and then got back onto the lead lap. It looked like we were going to bring home an eighth-place finish until the right-front tire blew out on the last lap. It was a frustrating and confusing day for sure. To start up front and lead the first 30 laps was cool. Our car felt great and there wasn’t any sign that we were having tire issues. Something was going wrong in the right-front; we’re just not sure what it was yet.”
With this result Sam Hornish, Jr. and the No. 12 Detroit Genuine Parts Dodge Challenger maintain the fourth position in the NASCAR Nationwide point standings.
The next NASCAR Nationwide Series event will be on May 26 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The History 300 will air at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC and it will be broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.