DAYTONA, Fla. (July 6, 2012) – Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Wurth Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished 10th in Friday evening’s Subway Jalapeno 250. The result marks his best superspeedway finish of the season.
Hornish qualified for the event in the 17th position after turning a lap of 51.231 seconds around the 2.5 mile superspeedway at an average speed of 175.675 miles per hour during Friday afternoon qualifying. However, due to a post-qualifying engine change the No. 12 Wurth Dodge had to start the race from the back of the field.
The Defiance, Ohio native spent the first part of the race at the back of the pack with a mind to avoid the crashes that are prevalent at Daytona. At lap eight the first caution of the night was displayed and crew chief Chad Walter elected to stay out which resulted in the Wurth Dodge picking up the lead. When the green flag brought the field back up to speed at lap 11 Hornish was scored first with Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski pushing him. The two would break away and Hornish would go on to lead several laps before another tandem pushed its way to the front.
At lap 39 Hornish brought his Dodge to the pits for a scheduled green flag pit stop at which point the Penske Racing crew changed four tires and filled the Dodge Challenger with fuel. Just as Hornish rejoined the action a yellow flag was displayed, this meant that Hornish was now a lap down to the leaders, but he was the first car one lap down and was awarded the “Lucky Dog” award, putting him at the tail end of the lead lap.
During the next segment of the race Hornish would run as low as 30th and as high as 21st. A lap 65 caution flag gave the Penske crew the opportunity to make up track position for their driver which they did as when the action picked up at lap 72 Hornish was scored in the fifth position.
During the final 28 laps of the race there were multiple caution periods, due to a couple of big wrecks and single car crashes. Hornish was running third at lap 96 when the final caution of the night was displayed at lap 97 setting up a green-white-checkered finish. At lap 99 the green flag brought the cars up to speed for the final time of the night with the Wurth Dodge scored seventh. Hornish had been working with Justin Allgaier for the previous 10 laps, but the two were not able to effectively pair up for the last lap and Hornish finished the race in the 10th position.
“It was a strange race, said Hornish. “We were able to miss a lot of the carnage and that helped us a lot. I’m not sure how good our car was, but we got a lot of breaks that helped us get track position. The guys worked their butts off all weekend. We changed a transmission and an engine. We started from the back and were able to claw our Würth Dodge Challenger back up to the front. At the end of the day, we’re looking for wins and we fell short today. We’ll take a 10th-place finish but we always want more. Our car wasn’t good enough to push like we needed to and every time that we got into traffic we just got pulled off the car ahead of us. “It’s just luck. You can never predict where or when all heck is going to break loose. We were just fortunate to stay clean all night, get some track position back and contend at the end of race.”
With the result Hornish and the No. 12 Wurth Dodge securely maintain fourth in the championship standings trailing first place by 35 points.
Penske Racing teammate, Brad Keselowski finished 35th in the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team will next race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the F.W. Webb 200 on Saturday, July 14. Coverage will air live beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPN. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 90.