Sam Hornish Jr. and the No. 9 Medallion Bank/Lyon Financial team finished 26thin Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Over the course of the 334-lap race, long green-flag runs and green-flag pit stops hindered the No. 9 Ford early, forcing the team as high as three laps down. However, Hornish and Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer fought hard the entire night to get back on the lead lap by the end of the race to finish 26th.
Hornish started the race from the 29th position but immediately began to work through traffic, advancing six spots in the first four laps. He reported early that the No. 9 Ford was tight on the drive off the corner, and Blickensderfer recommended a trackbar adjustment. Hornish was in the 20thposition when a spin in Turn Four brought out the first caution of the night. He brought the No. 9 Ford to pit road for four tires, a wedge adjustment and fuel but was held up leaving pit road after getting blocked into his stall, causing him to restart in the 25th spot.
Hornish bounced in and out of the Top-25 as the No. 9 Ford was tight at the beginning of the run. A trackbar adjustment seemed to help the No. 9 Ford, and Hornish drove back into the Top-20 before making a green-flag pit stop on Lap 81. Blickensderfer called for an air pressure adjustment during the four-tire stop, and Hornish returned to the track in the 26th spot, one lap down. Debris in Turn Two brought out the caution on Lap 110, allowing Blickensderfer to go back on the last air pressure adjustment, which didn’t seem to help the No. 9 Ford over the last run. Hornish restarted 25th on Lap 114.
Hornish gained one spot before another green-flag pit stop on Lap 157. This time, the team made a wedge adjustment to help the handling of the No. 9 Ford during the four-tire stop. Hornish returned to the track 27th, two laps down. He raced to the 25th position when the yellow flag displayed on Lap 173. This time, Hornish stayed out during the caution to take the wave around and gain back one lap. He restarted 24th on Lap 177.
Hornish gained one spot as he battled with what he described a “temperamental” car, before making his way to pit road for a green-flag pit stop on Lap 204 for four tires, a wedge adjustment and fuel. After the stop, Hornish raced into the 23rdposition but fell another lap down to the leaders before a spin in Turn Four brought out the caution on Lap 229. The Medallion Bank/Lyon Financial Ford was too tight in the middle of the turn and on the drive off, and another wedge adjustment was made on the No. 9 Ford during the four-tire stop. Hornish restarted 24thon Lap 235.
A caution on Lap 251 gave Hornish another opportunity to take the wave around and gain a lap back. After the restart he raced into the Lucky Dog spot and got the break the team needed when an accident in Turn Three brought out the caution on Lap 261. After a four-tire stop, Hornish restarted 23rd at the tail end of the line.
Hornish didn’t like the last adjustment to the No. 9 Ford and battled with a tight racecar. The team had two more cautions to make adjustments to the Medallion Bank/Lyon Financial Ford in the final 64 laps. Hornish battled for position in and out of the Top-25, but in the end crossed the finish line in the 26th spot. Hornish gained two spots to 29th in the Championship Point Standings.
“We improved on our race trim from the start of the weekend through final practice,” said Hornish. “We started to gain some positions early in the race, but the long green-flag runs didn’t play in our favor. I had some trouble leaving pit road on one of our green-flag stops which didn’t help us either. For whatever reason, the adjustments that should’ve worked didn’t help as much as we wanted, but we came back from being three laps down and finished on the lead lap. That put us back in the position to compete for spots on the track.”