Cup Series Preview: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
• Sam Hornish Jr. and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be racing their “PRS-824” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at New Hampshire. This is a new chassis in the “Double-Deuce” team’s fleet of Dodge Chargers, but has been utilized once by teammate Brad Keselowski’s Miller Lite Dodge Team. Keselowksi and his Paul Wolfe-led “Blue Deuce” crew raced this car at Richmond in the April 28 Capitol City 400. Keselowski drove from a 16th-place start to a ninth-place finish in that race. The “PRS-807” chassis will serve as the backup. It was in the transporter serving as the backup at Phoenix, Bristol and Martinsville, but has never seen any track time to date.
• Sam Hornish Jr. is looking to make the best of the opportunity to drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge in Sunday’s LENOX Industrial Tools 301. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge, yet at the same time I wish it wasn’t under these circumstances,” said Hornish. “It is a difficult time for AJ and the entire organization. Sometimes it happens like this, though, and we will attempt to find the good in this situation and make the most of the opportunity. I like this type of track as it requires that the driver make compromises – the car may be great at one end of the track and then not so good at the other – so you have to do your best and make it work.”
• In his six career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sam Hornish Jr. is still looking for his first top-five finish, but he has come home with top-10s in a third of the races. He has a 21.5 average start and a 24.5 average finish. He has yet to lead a lap, but has completed 91.8 percent (1,613 of 1,758) of all possible laps and has been running at the finish in five of the six races. “Our best result at Loudon to date was in the first race of 2009,” Hornish said of the June 28, 2009 edition of the LENOX Industrial Tools race. He started back in the 26th position, but charged to the front and was a fixture among the top 10 for most of the race. “We finished eighth, but we had been running third towards the end of the race. We pitted right before it started raining, while some people stayed out. So we lost five spots at the end. It was a good run, though. We had a good car and the crew did their part all day.”
• After both Penske Racing Sprint Cup teams tested at the Milwaukee Mile for two days (July 2-3) in preparation for this weekend’s race, Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon is hoping for the best at New Hampshire. “I’m confident that we learned so many things at Milwaukee that we can apply at Loudon during the course of the weekend, even though AJ was in the car for the test and Sam will be driving for us,” said Gordon. “We’ll hit the ground looking for speed from the very start of practice on Friday. It’s unfortunate for everyone involved that the situation has unfolded like it has, but we’re committed to getting out there and doing the best job we possibly can. The 22 and the 2 Cup teams have worked extremely well together this season and we will definitely be leaning on each other closely this weekend at Loudon. We would love to go and have a really positive weekend at Loudon this week. We want to do it for Shell-Pennzoil, Dodge and for all the great supporters we have at Penske Racing. We’ll be giving the effort everything we have, that’s for sure.”
• Although Sam Hornish Jr. was called into action at the last moment in last Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 and Sunday’s race at New Hampshire marks only his second Cup race working with crew chief Todd Gordon, the two know each other well. “Sam and Brad have enjoyed a great relationship working together over in the Nationwide Series this season and that should help our teams working together this weekend,” said Gordon. “Sam and I spent a good deal of time working together last season when I was crew chief for Brad’s Nationwide team. He spent some time out on the road with us and did some practices for us. Sam actually drove our No. 22 Nationwide car for our team at Iowa last August, so we have some history of racing together. The bottom line is that we’ve all had working relationships that are close enough to help make this weekend’s working together as seamless as possible.”
• #PenskePride- Penske Racing is asking fans to show their Penske Pride through a unique social media contest that will last for the balance of the 2012 season. Through the #PenskePride contest, each race weekend fans will have the opportunity to Tweet @PenskeRacing pictures showing their support for the Penske Racing organization, their favorite Penske Racing driver(s) or teams in unique and creative ways, using the hashtag #PenskePride. The best weekly photo will be named Fan Photo of the Week. At the end of each month, a Fan Photo of the Month will be selected from the weekly winners. The best monthly photos will be voted on by @PenskeRacing followers to be named Fan Photo of the Year. The winner of Photo of the Year will receive the Ultimate Penske Racing Fan Experience including tickets and hot passes to the 2013 NASCAR All-Star Race, autographed items and a tour of the Penske Racing facility by a Penske driver.
• Sam Hornish Jr. will be a special featured guest on today’s (Tuesday) edition of “NASCARNow” on ESPN2. Today’s show begins at 3:00 p.m. ET.
• Sam Hornish Jr. will have a media availability session Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It is set for immediately after he makes his run in Sprint Cup qualifying and will be held behind the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team transporter in the Sprint Cup garage area. Cup qualifying begins at 3:40 p.m. ET.