Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), scored a second-place finish in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Saturday afternoon. The result marks Hornish’s fourth consecutive top-three finish and it vaults him to a tie for second in the championship standings.
Hornish started from the front row, in the second position after he lapped the 2.71-mile road course in 100.905 seconds at an average speed of 96.649 miles per hour in the Friday afternoon’s qualifying session. Hornish wasted little time making his way to the top spot as he led two of the first 10 laps of the event with a mind towards collecting a championship point. The Penske Racing veteran would go on to maintain a solid presence in the top-three until the team’s first pit stop during the first caution flag of the day at lap 18. This bunched the field and prompted many of the lead cars to make their first pit-stops.
During the first stint, Hornish radioed to the Alliance Truck Parts crew that his Dodge Challenger was lacking forward drive and that his brake pedal was long. At lap 20 crew chief Chad Walter called Hornish to the attention of the Penske Dodge crew. During this stop the team gave him four tires, an air pressure adjustment and fuel, while removing tape from the front brake ducts. Hornish would rejoin the action in the 12th position as many competitors were already on alternate fuel strategies.
Over the course of the next 10 laps Hornish made a determined drive towards the front of the field and by lap 32, when the second yellow flag of the race was displayed, he was scored fourth in the running order. At the lap 37 restart Hornish, who was driving conservatively, was shuffled back a few places to sixth in the running order. He would make his way up to the fifth position by lap 44 when the caution was displayed again.
While waiting for the pit lane to open, crew chief Chad Walter asked Hornish how his Alliance Truck Parts Dodge was handling, to which Hornish replied that he was lacking rear grip. At lap 46 Hornish brought his Dodge Challenger to the attention of the Penske crew. During this stop they gave him four tires, fuel, as well as chassis and air pressure adjustments.
When the green flag brought the field back up to speed at lap 48, Hornish was running in the eighth position. Hornish was scored as the fastest car on the track at lap 51 and by lap 57 he had advanced up to the second position. By lap 59 he had built a seven second lead over the third-place competitor as he and leader, Penske Racing teammate Jacques Villeneuve, opened a strong lead over the rest of the field. A lap 59 caution flag would bunch the field and during the lap 63 restart the Penske Dodge was struck from the rear and spun off of the racing circuit.
The Alliance Truck Parts machine incurred significant right-rear damage and would have to pit for repairs at lap 65. Hornish would rejoin the fray scored in the 24th position. At lap 70 another caution flew, which allowed the Penske Dodge to come to the pits for four fresh tires and a splash of fuel as being at the end of the lead lap there was nothing to lose in terms of track position. At lap 72, with Hornish scored 18th the green flag waved, but the field would not complete a full lap before the caution was displayed yet again.
In the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish at lap 76, Hornish was scored eighth in the running order. Once again the caution flag would slow the field and at lap 79 the field attempted yet another green-white-checkered with Hornish scored fifth. Over the next two laps Hornish would drive his way to second-place finishing just behind winner Justin Allgaier.
“We had a very strong Alliance Truck Parts Dodge today,” said Hornish. “Prior to that caution where we got spun out, we were catching the No. 22 (Jacques Villeneuve) and we felt like we had something for them. I felt like we had a winning car today, we just didn’t get the win. All in all, the guys did a great job – another lap and I think I would have had the 31 (Justin Allgaier). To come back from the back of the field – I feel pretty good about it – our Penske Racing crew did an awesome job. I am really thankful to have the opportunity to be here and I am grateful to all of our partners that enable us to be here.”
With the result Hornish and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge team advance to a tie for second in the championship standings trailing first place by just 22 points.
Penske Racing teammate, Jacques Villeneuve finished third in the No. 22 Dodge Challenger.
Penske Racing PR