ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (June 23, 2012) – Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished fifth in Saturday afternoon’s Sargento 200 at Road America. Hornish was the highest finishing Nationwide Series regular and the result marks Hornish’s best-ever stock car finish on a road course.
Hornish started the event from the eighth spot on the grid after he turned a lap of 134.457 seconds around the 4.04 mile road course at an average speed of 108.383 miles per hour during Saturday morning qualifying. The driver of the No. 12 Dodge Challenger came to the pits on lap two for a fuel-only stop, in order to set-up a strategy aimed at ensuring a strong points paying finish. During the pit stop his Penske pit-crew had an issue with the fuel can and the Alliance Truck Parts machine was subsequently assessed a stop-and-go penalty. Hornish would serve the penalty and rejoin the competition in the 38th position.
Driving with determination, Hornish went to work, gaining 20 positions over the next seven laps When the first yellow flag of the race was displayed at lap 11 the No. 12 Dodge Challenger was scored 18th in the running order. When the green flag brought the field back to racing conditions Hornish had advanced to fifth-place as he was able to gain track position due to much of the field pitting while the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge elected to remain on the racing surface.
The Defiance, Ohio would climb his way to fourth over the next few laps. A lap 16 caution flag allowed the Penske Dodge crew the opportunity to bring their machine into the pits for fuel and tires. When the action resumed at lap 18 Hornish was shown running in the 21st position. During the next segment of the race Hornish drove at a spirited pace and by lap 26 he had climbed his way to 10thin the running order.
A lap 30 caution flag allowed the Penske team to once again employ strategy to its advantage and while the majority of the lead cars pitted, Hornish stayed on track. This placed him in the lead at lap 31, though the Alliance Truck Parts machine would lead for just one green flag lap as the yellow flew again at the conclusion lap 32. The laps led earned Hornish a valuable championship point.
Crew chief Chad Walter called his driver into the pits for fuel and tires at lap 34 in order to ensure that the No. 12 Dodge would have adequate fuel to make to the end of the race, as well as enough fuel to make it through potential green-white-checkered finishes that are common to road course circuit finishes.
When the green flag restarted the field at lap 35, the Penske Dodge was running in the 18th position. Once again Hornish forged his way through the field and when yet another yellow caution period occurred at lap 36, he had raced his way to 12th place. At lap 38 the racing picked up with the Alliance Truck Parts car scored in 10th place.
Over the closing laps of the race Hornish drove brilliantly – at times aggressive and at times patient – and when the checkered flag was displayed the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge was scored fifth in the running order.
With the result Hornish and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge maintain fourth in the championship standings just 11 points behind third-place Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
“We had a good car all day and our Alliance Truck Parts crew did a great job all weekend long,” said Hornish. “Chad (Walter) made a great call to run the strategy we did today, which was geared to ensure that we would have a strong points paying result. It worked out pretty good for us as we finished in front of the guys that are ahead of us in the standings and we closed the gap to third-place by a significant margin. Our Dodge Challenger was really fun to drive and it was especially good those few laps that we were able to lead. Towards the end of the race I knew it was going to get wild so I just hung back a bit and let the cars in front of me go at it and that paid off as we were able to gain a couple spots on the last lap. All in all I am happy with day we had and now we just have to keep our heads down and keep working.”
Penske Racing teammate, Jacques Villeneuve finished sixth in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team will next race at Kentucky in the Feed the Children 300 on Friday, June 29. Coverage will air live beginning at 7 pm EST on ESPN2. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.