BRISTOL, Tenn. (August 22, 2008) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, ran a strong race Friday night in the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway, posting top-10 laps times for most of the race. After starting in the 20th position, Hornish was on his way to a top-10 finish in his Nationwide debut at the challenging .533-mile oval, but ended up 14th due to involvement in an on-track incident on the final lap.
As a full day of track activity began on Friday morning, the No. 12 machine was involved in a single-car accident on the backstretch in the day’s first Nationwide Series practice session. The Penske Truck Rental team was forced to bring out the back up car and the crew worked quickly to prepare the car for final practice and qualifying.
After starting the race in 20th place, Hornish relayed that the Penske Truck Rental machine was good overall but slightly tight-handling from the center of the corner through exit. When the first caution of the night came out on lap 17, Hornish was running in 19th place and the team opted not to pit so early in the race.
When racing action resumed, Hornish noted that the handling on the Penske Truck Rental Dodge was getting progressively tighter. Hornish remained in the 19th spot when the caution flag waved on lap 87, and he was ready to come to pit road for the team’s first pit stop of the night. Hornish came to pit road on lap 88 for four tires, fuel, track bar and air pressure adjustments. He restarted the race in 17th place.
By lap 100, Hornish was posted in 16th place and was running top-five lap times. At the mid-point of the 250-lap race, he had worked his way into the top-15, running in the 14th position.
The handling on the Penske Truck Rental machine remained tight from the center of the corners through exit. With 75 laps to go, Hornish was running in 16th place, one of 18 cars on the lead lap.
When the caution flag waved on lap 186 for an accident in turn three, Hornish was running in 18th place, one lap down to the leaders. He came to pit road on lap 190 for four tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments, restarting the race on lap 192 in the 19th position.
Hornish was the first driver one lap down when the caution came out on lap 206 and was the “lucky dog,” receiving the nod from NASCAR to return to the lead lap. He came to pit road on lap 209 for fuel and a track bar adjustment, restarting the race in the 18th position.
Hornish made his final pit stop of the night under caution on lap 222 for four tires and fuel. The green flag waved with 25 laps to go, and the No. 12 was posted in 15th place.
In the waning laps of the race, Hornish began passing cars in short order, climbing as high as the 11th position. Hornish was on his way to a top-10 finish when, on the last lap, the No. 38 car in front of him blew a right front tire and slammed into the No. 12 machine. Despite substantial damage, Hornish was able to make it to the checkered flag and finished the race in the 14th position.
“The Penske Truck Rental Dodge was pretty good overall,” said Hornish after the race. “We seemed to get progressively tighter as the race went on, but we were really good on that last run and almost had a top-10 finish. We worked hard today and raced hard tonight. I’m proud of this team and our overall effort here at Bristol.”