BROOKLYN, Mich. – Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger, finished sixth in Saturday afternoon’s Alliance Truck Parts 250 at Michigan International Speedway. Hornish led 25 laps early in the event while closing the gap to third-place in the point standings.
Hornish started the 125-lap race from the eleventh position on the grid after he turned a lap of 38.281 seconds around the freshly repaved speedway at an average speed of 188.083 miles per hour during qualifying earlier in the day.
At the beginning of the race Hornish went to work in his Dodge Challenger making his way up to the eighth position within the first five laps. He maintained a steady presence in the top10 for the first 25 laps, when NASCAR called a competition caution to allow the teams to check for tire wear. At lap 27 Hornish brought the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge into the pits and crew chief Chad Walter instructed his crew to fuel the car and change the two right-side tires. This strategy resulted in Hornish gaining nine positions while on pit lane and he assumed the lead of the race at lap 27. The green flag flew at lap 30 and Hornish would lead for 23 laps until his next pit-stop at lap 49. During that stop the team changed four tires and adjusted the chassis to fine-tune the handling of the Penske Dodge while some of the competition took just two tires. This resulted in the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge losing a few positions.
The action picked up once again at lap 57 with Hornish scored in the sixth position. He reported the car was not as good back in traffic and while he could get a run on the cars in front of him, he was not able to complete the pass.
Over the next 40 laps Hornish would run as high as seventh and as low as 10th. At lap 91 the field began to make green-flag pit stops and Hornish was able to lead two more laps while the Penske driver stretched his fuel mileage in hopes of a yellow flag that did not materialize. Hornish brought his Challenger down pit lane for a green flag stop at lap 95 at which time the Penske crew gave him two tires and two cans of fuel. Hornish was scored in the 11th position when he rejoined the action.
At lap 102 a caution flag was displayed and at lap 103 Hornish made the call to bring his Dodge into the pit lane as he felt that an improvement in the handling of his Penske Dodge would be more beneficial than the track position that they would get if they elected to stay out. At lap 107 an air pressure adjustment and four fresh tires Hornish went to work. At lap 112 the yellow flag was displayed for a two-car crash that resulted in a small fire. At lap118 the race was red flagged to clean the racing surface. When the race was restarted at lap 121 Hornish was scored in the 10th position. He made a strong effort to move forward and he was able to maneuver his way up to the sixth position.
Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski finished 10th in the Discount Tire Dodge.
“We had a really good Challenger,” said Hornish. “Our problem was we could never get track position. We got it one time and then we had to take four tires. We thought we were going to be on the right plan and then everybody pitted under green. It was just one of those deals. The Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger was good if we could get clean air, if not we were just a little bit too tight. We freed it up trying to get ourselves a little bit better there at the end. We pushed the 54 (Kurt Busch) up there and just couldn’t hang on it ourselves. One of those days but it’s super tough to pass. I’m pretty interested to see what the Cup race looks like tomorrow. That’ll be interesting because you can get to the person, you can run ‘em down from a straightaway, but it’s really hard to get it (a pass) done, although they have another 250 horsepower. I was wishing that I had another five today.”
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, just 18 points out of third.
The next stop for the No. 12 Penske Dodge is on June 23 at Road America for the Sargento 200 which will air live at 3 p.m. on ESPN. Race coverage will also be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.