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Sam Hornish, Jr. Seventh In All-Star Race

Sam Hornish Jr, AHS ’98, and Indianapolis 500 winner, captured one of two competition transfer spots in the Sprint Showdown and advanced into the NASCAR All-Star Race at Concord, N.C., Saturday night, May 17.

After a second-place finish in the 40-lap Showdown, Hornish captured seventh place in the 100-lap All-Star Race after starting 23rd in a field of 24 competitors.

In the first of two 20-lap segments in the qualifying race, Hornish was the fastest car on the track and running in the fifth position.

At the beginning of the second segment, Hornish was in third place when the green flag waved, but dropped quickly to eighth in the running order when he spun the tires of his car on the restart. With just 20 laps to recover, he worked his way into second place and was challenging A.J. Allmendinger for the win as the checkered flag waved. Hornish immediately lined up to start the foursegment, million-dollar All-Star Race in the 23rd position.

“I’m super-excited about finishing second right now and being able to transfer into the All- Star Race,” said Hornish after the Showdown. “I think we’ve got a really good car.

“If we can avoid the wrecks out there, and make sure we can make it to the end, I think that we’re going to have a shot at running in the top 10; hopefully, a little bit better than that.”

Riding the momentum of an impressive finish in the Showdown, Hornish and his team were tasked with racing through an impressive All-Star field, which included NASCAR Sprint Cup series race winners, former season champions and previous All-Star Race winners.

Just as racing action got underway, Hornish brushed the wall on lap three, damaging the right rear bumper. On lap 10, he was forced to bring the car to pit road under green flag conditions when the right rear tire went flat. Hornish dropped to last place in the running order and was two laps down to the leader at the end of the first of four 25-lap segments.

During the first caution period, the team changed four tires, added fuel and made repairs to the car. As the only car not on the lead lap, Hornish was the recipient of the “free pass” and was granted one lap back headed into the second segment. During the second segment, Hornish consistently posted top-10 lap times and passed nine cars in 25 laps.

There was a 10-minute period at the halfway point of the race for the teams to make adjustments to their race cars.

His crew changed four tires, added fuel and made additional repairs to the car. Hornish was awarded the “free pass” once again when the caution came out to end the second segment, returning him to the lead lap.

During the third segment of the race, Hornish climbed from the 24th position to 14th place in 25 laps.

All teams were required to make a pit stop headed into the final 25-lap segment of the race. Hornish came to pit road for a splash of fuel only. The move gained the No. 77 team six spots on track.

In the last 25 laps, Hornish was once again dominant on the race track. After slipping several positions, he picked competitors off with ease, ultimately overcoming a two-lap deficit to capture seventh.

“We had a really good car. Once we got out there running, I think we had one that was capable of winning,” said Hornish.

“I was just really happy with the way that the Mobil 1 Dodge handled tonight and the guys did a great job in the pits.

“Tonight is a confidence builder for Sam undoubtedly,” said Chris Carrier, Hornish’s crew chief. “I told the team earlier that tonight could be the shot in the arm that turns our whole season around as long as we perform.

“Momentum is a huge tool. It’s the best or worst tool there is in any competitive sport. Now we’ve got some momentum on our side, and that’s what we’ve been looking for all year.”

Hornish now prepares for the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the 2008 NASCAR season, Sunday, May 25 at Concord, N.C.- Information courtesy Penske Racing

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