FORT WORTH, Texas (April 5, 2008) – Penske Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. and the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental team relied on teamwork and communication to capture a solid 19th place finish in the O’Reilly 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
On Thursday, the Penske Truck Rental team was forced to go to a backup Dodge due to a practice incident and the scheduled evening qualifying session was cancelled due to rain. This combination meant that Hornish Jr. and the Penske Truck Rental Dodge team would be making their first NASCAR Nationwide Series start of the 2008 season in the 43rd starting position.
Hornish Jr. wasted no time working his way up through the field once the 200-lap race began. Reporting that the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge was good on entry and in the middle of the turns, while slightly tight on exit, by lap 15 Hornish Jr. had advanced 18 positions, up to 25th place.
The team’s first pit stop of the day was made under green-flag conditions on lap 50. The Penske Truck Rental team quickly changed four tires, added fuel and made air pressure and wedge adjustments. After the field completed all pit stops, Hornish Jr. emerged in the 24th position.
When the caution flag waved on lap 90 for debris, Hornish Jr. reported that the Penske Truck Rental Dodge was loose on entry and tight in the center of the turns. He came to pit road on lap 94 for four tires, a tank of fuel and a wedge adjustment. Hornish Jr. restarted the race in 22nd place, running one lap down to the leader.
With 75 laps to go in the race, Hornish Jr. was running 20th and consistently posting top-10 lap times.
The second round green flag pit stops began on lap 150 and Hornish Jr. came to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. On lap 155, a caution came out for a spin on the backstretch. With green flag stops still in progress, the Penske Truck Rental team fell an addition lap down and Hornish Jr. restarted the race in 23rd place.
The Penske Truck Rental Dodge was fully dialed in on lap 175, with Hornish Jr. radioing the team that the car was the best it had been all afternoon. Crew chief Matt Gimbel could see the results, telling Hornish Jr. on the radio, “Your lap times are pretty good. There are only two cars running faster than you right now.”
When the checkered flag waved on lap 200, Hornish Jr. finished his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season in 19th-place running two laps down to race winner Kyle Busch.
“Today was a good day overall and a real confidence builder for the Penske Truck Rental team,” said Hornish Jr. “We made our first start in the Nationwide Series this season and, after starting in last place, we came away with a top-20 finish. We had a few problems this weekend but we all have problems. We’ll keep working and learning. In the end, we are proud of what we accomplished this weekend.”
Hornish Jr. and the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge team return to action in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in two weeks when the circuit heads south of the border for the Mexico 200 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico for the first road-course race of the season. The race will be televised live on ESPN beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on MRN Radio at 2:00 p.m. EDT.