Sam Hornish, Jr., driver of the Penske Racing No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, finished 30th in Friday evening’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250. The result marks only the second finish outside of the top-fifteen through twenty five races this season for Hornish and with the outcome he slips to fourth in the championship standings.
Hornish qualified for the event in the fourth position after turning a lap of 22.127 seconds, at 122.023 miles per hour, around the .75-mile mile speedway during the Friday afternoon qualifying session. When the green flag waved to start the action Hornish held station in the fourth position as the lead cars spaced themselves out and settled into a long green flag run.
During the first part of the race the 33-year-old driver radioed in that his car was too free into the corners, tight in the center and free on corner exit. Despite this condition he was able to run competitive lap times and maintain the fourth position. At lap 38 the first caution of the evening was displayed and the Alliance Truck Parts machine entered the pits two laps later receiving air pressure and chassis adjustments, as well as four tires and fuel.
As the green waved to restart the race Hornish was once again scored fourth. Over the course of the next long run the Penske Dodge would slide back to the sixth position as Hornish reported that the car did not improve significantly with the changes made during the previous stop. At lap 111 the second caution of the night set-up a lap 112 pit-stop for the No. 12 machine, this time the Penske Racing crew changed four tires, added fuel, and made chassis and air pressure adjustments.
When the green flag restarted the action at lap 117 Hornish was again shown in the fourth position after his Alliance Truck Parts pit-crew picked up two spots for him with fast service in the pit box. Over the ensuing laps the Dodge Challenger would give up a few positions as the driver struggled with a car that was too loose on corner entry and tight in the center of the turns.
Hornish spent the next segment of the race biding his time and doing his best to take care of his car. However a lap 155 incident began with Hornish cutting a left-rear tire and ended with the Penske Dodge hitting the outside wall. In addition, he was then hit by a passing competitor. The multiple impact crash resulted in serious damage to the No. 12 machine and the carnage was sufficient for a red flag while the racing surface was cleared of debris.
The Defiance, Ohio native was able to coax his wounded Dodge back to the pits where the Penske Racing crew worked diligently to make repairs that would allow Hornish to rejoin the field. The car sustained heavy right front and rear end damage that would require prolonged repairs that necessitated the car going behind the wall. After losing numerous laps Hornish was able to run the last few laps of the event to salvage a 30th place finish, 88 laps down.
“It’s just one of those things. I hate it for everyone on this Alliance Truck Parts Dodge. We’d run all but two laps up to this point so far this year so this is a little bit of a hard day for us. We’ll keep our heads-up,” said Hornish. “We try to do everything we can do to not have any issues. We just got caught up in this one, I can’t say it was somebody else’s problem because we were right in the middle of it, but just it seemed unnecessary for that point in the race, to me anyway. It’s not over (championship race) but, you know, it’s not making it any easier.”
With the result Hornish and the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge are now fourth in the championship standings.
Penske Racing PR