HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 17, 2012) – Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished fourth in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday evening. The result marks Hornish’s 10th top-five and 22nd top-10 result over the course of the 33 race season.
Hornish began the 200-lap race from the fourth position, based on his lap of 32.604 seconds at 165.624 miles per hour during Saturday morning’s qualifying session. The race began with a fast yet cautious pace as the event ran under green flag until lap 65. Over the opening laps the Defiance, Ohio native methodically worked his way up in the running order. By lap eleven he had made it to the eighth position and at lap 30 he was scored sixth in the running order.
Early in the run Hornish reported that the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge was a little free into and out of the corner while building tight in the center over the course of the run. The Penske Dodge’s first pit-stop of the evening occurred at lap 49 with the No. 12 machine scored in the fourth position. During the stop the Alliance Truck Parts crew changed four tires, made chassis and air pressure adjustments along with adding fuel.
At lap 65 the first caution of the night was displayed with Hornish running fifth. At lap 67 crew chief, Chad Walter called his driver into the pits for a set of tires and fuel and when the green flag restarted the action at lap 70 he was running 10th having lost several positions to cars on differing tire strategies. On the ensuing restart Hornish gained five spots in two laps and would go on to advance all the way to the second position by lap 94 when another yellow flag was displayed. During this caution the Penske team elected to take fuel only in order to keep track position while staying on their fuel strategy.
The Alliance Truck Parts Dodge restarted the race at lap 99 scored second and at lap 100 Hornish would lead his first lap of the event. Over the course of the next 25 laps he would slide back to the eighth position as the cars with fresh rubber made their way past him as his tires began to wear. Hornish reported feeling a vibration at the front of the car at lap 119, then at lap 123 he radioed in that it had become worse. At lap 128 Hornish announced he was coming to the pits as he felt issue at the front of the car needed to be addressed. The Penske pit-crew changed four tires and added fuel. Upon inspecting the tires that came off of the No. 12 machine it was discovered that the right-front tire had a moderate size cut on the inner sidewall.
The unscheduled pit stop resulted in the loss of several positions and one lap. For the next 30 laps Hornish drove his way back on to the lead lap and into the top-five as the lead lap cars began to pit. At lap 154 he was running fourth and needing a caution to stay on the lead lap. At lap 173 late in the stint – the needed caution was displayed. The team gave their driver the final service of the evening at lap 175. Hornish would restart 11th at lap 178 and drive his Alliance Parts Dodge to a fourth-place finish.
Penske Racing teammate Ryan Blaney finished eighth Saturday evening in the No. 22 Dodge Challenger.
“We had one of those nights where we had a really good car,” said Hornish. “We just didn’t have what we needed at the end. We cut a tire under green. That got us out of sequence with the rest of the field. We were able to come back and have a top-five run which is good for the moral of the guys who fought so hard tonight. We wish we could have done better for Dodge, Alliance Truck Parts and Wurth. We are grateful for all of their support and we will work hard to come back stronger next year.”
Following Saturday afternoon’s result, Hornish and the No. 12 Penske Dodge team secure fourth in the final 2012 NNS championship.
The No. 12 Penske Dodge team will next compete at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, February 23, 2013.