Joliet, Ill.(September 17, 2011) – Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS), finished fifth Saturday afternoon in the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The event marked the eighth NNS race of 2011 for Hornish and his fifth start in the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge. Saturday’s result was the first top-five of the season for Hornish.
Hornish began the 200-lap race from the seventh position, after posting a qualifying time of 30.87 seconds or 174.950 miles per hour, during Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session. The performance marked the fourth time that the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge started in the top-10 this season. The No. 12 Challenger started the race strong as Hornish was able to maintain his position throughout the first few laps of the race.
Hornish radioed to crew chief, Chad Walter that the car was tight in the middle of the turns and lacked grip corner exit. When the caution flag flew on lap 46 for debris along the backstretch, the Alliance Truck Parts Dodge came down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment hoping to improve the car’s grip. Unfortunately, due to a tire not being properly controlled while on pit road, Hornish was forced to start in the rear of the field in the 20th position.
Upon the restart, Hornish found himself battling with the No. 88 of Aric Almirola and the No. 20 of Joey Logano for a spot within the top-15 as he slowly began making up for positions lost while on pit road. After making contact with the No. 30 of Kasey Kahne, Hornish was worried that there might have been some damage to the right front fender and radioed in for the Alliance Truck Parts crew to check it out upon the completion of their next pit stop. As the laps continued to wind down in the Dollar General 300, Hornish began to improve upon his track position. By the half way mark of the race, he had moved back into the top-10 and had found the grip that the No. 12 was so desperately missing during first half.
While making his way down pit road for the final time of the afternoon on lap 172, the Alliance Truck parts crew changed all four tires and filled the car with fuel. With a lug nut on the left front tire of the car coming loose, Hornish spent longer on pit road then planned and came back out onto the track in the 10th position. Having only 30 laps remaining in the race, Hornish was determined to make up for the spots that were lost and within two laps he had made his way into the seventh position. As he continued to battle with the top 10 contenders, he got held up by the No. 88 for the fourth-place and crossed the finish line in the fifth position, behind Penske Racing teammate and race winner, Brad Keselowski.
“I’m really happy for Penske Racing,” said Hornish. “I knew it was going to be hard to catch Brad (Keselowski) as far out front as he was. Our Alliance Truck Parts Dodge wasn’t great to start, but we were able to make it better all race. We ran into one hiccup early in the race when we had a pit road penalty for the tire violation and that set us back. But after that we got faster and faster all day. We didn’t make an adjustment on that last run that kept us from catching the 88. We just had some problems in the pits. The guys are working really hard giving me good racecars, we just need to make sure we get the whole package put together. We have four more races coming up towards the end of the year, hopefully we’ll get into our flow to get up there and lead some more laps and fight for some wins.”
Hornish will next compete for Penske Racing in the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, October 14 in the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage.