© Copyright 2011
But first, these notes of interest:
--Sam Hornish Jr. and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be utilizing the “PRS-820” Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at New Hampshire. This is the same car that Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski drove in the April 14 Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. In that race, the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge started eighth and saw a strong top-five run end because of fuel system issues. Keselowski’s team also utilized this Dodge Charger during a July test session at Michigan. The chassis has been sent back through the Penske Racing shop and updated with the latest components and adorned with the popular and dynamic No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil color scheme prior to its return to action this weekend at New Hampshire. The “807” chassis will serve as the backup this weekend. It was in the 22 team transporter serving as the backup at Phoenix; both Bristol races Martinsville and the second Richmond race, but has never seen any track time to date.
--Sam Hornish Jr. says he “can’t wait” for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “It’ll be great to finally get to a track where we be racing on for the second time this season,” offered Hornish. “After getting called into duty at the very last moment for the race in Daytona, the race at Loudon was my very first race where I was able to practice, qualify and race the car. When I look back to that weekend, I realize just how far we’ve come. It was the real starting point for crew chief Todd Gordon and I to learn each other and get our communications going. When I think how well we have been able to mesh as a team, it’s pretty cool. And I mean not just the driver and crew chief, but with everyone who is part of our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team. We’ve made a lot of progress and I feel like the two Penske Cup teams are working as well together as any of the teams in the garage area.”
--Sam Hornish Jr. looks back on the July 15 LENOX Tools 301 and how much his team has improved entering this weekend’s return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “In the first Loudon race, we really didn’t know what we wanted or needed in the car going into the race,” offered Hornish, who started 24th and finished 22nd. “It was really my first full-blown opportunity back in a Cup car in quite a while. The Nationwide cars and the Cup cars are different and I had not had the opportunity yet to get a good grasp on the transition. During that race, we struggled with the car being really free on entry and that plagued us the whole race. The biggest difference this time around will be the accumulation of what all we have learned since then. In that race, it just didn’t seem like we ever got the right adjustment to make it better. What we had at the beginning of the race was what we had at the end of the race. It’s totally different out there now. The communication we’ve developed since then is like night and day and continues to get even better every race we are together. Saying that I am really looking forward to our return visit to New Hampshire is really an understatement. I can’t wait to have another shot at it there in the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge.”
--With Sam Hornsih Jr. enthralled in a “full court press effort” to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series title, he will be at the Kentucky Speedway through Saturday night’s race focusing solely on the Kentucky 300. He’ll make his way to New Hampshire after that race goes into the record book. “We’ll have Dave Blaney helping us at Loudon from Friday on until Sam gets there,” said Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon. “Dave will be in the car from the first practice on Friday, through Friday afternoon’s qualifying and in both of Saturday’s practices, We are confident that Dave can help us get the car as prepared as possible for Sam to race on Sunday. It’ll be another ‘hop in the car and race’ situation for Sam. This is not anything new to us in that we called in Parker Kligerman to do the exact same thing for us at Michigan when Sam was up in Montreal concentrating on that Nationwide Series race. That weekend turned out really well as he finished second on the road course up there and finished 12th for us at MIS on Sunday. So, yes, it’s another race where Sam’s first time behind the wheel of the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge will be when he buckles in before the start of Sunday’s race.”
--With Dave Blaney qualifying the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge and Sam Hornish Jr. climbing into the driver’s seat for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire, the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge will have to start from the rear of the field for the 300-lap battle. “We know he’ll have to start from the rear in the race and maybe Loudon is not the best place to be in that position, but we’re prepared for it,” offered crew chief Todd Gordon. “Sam has shown the knack to be as patient as any driver out there. He will definitely be called on to utilize those skills there on Sunday as he works his way up through the field. If we need to put a little pit road strategy into the equation in order to get up there, we’ll be prepared to execute in that manner, too. I am very optimistic heading back to Loudon. You have to remember that we came in there for the first race with Sam being a fill-in driver. We didn’t know what cards the future held. It’s not every trip to the table that you sit down with a winning hand. I’ll tell you this – I am certainly proud of the job Sam and our team have done with the cards we were dealt. I am proud of the progress we have made in such a short period of time.”
--Dave Blaney has made 423 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts dating back to 1992. The 49-year-old Hartford, Ohio, native has been a fixture on the Cup circuit since 2000. He is the regular driver of the No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Chevrolet. Tony Raines will be behind the wheel of that car this weekend at NHMS. Blaney has recorded four top-five finishes and 28 top-10s through the years. He has two career poles, winning the pole at Rockingham in 2003 and at New Hampshire in 2007. He has $34,741,883 in career Cup winnings. In 121 NASCAR Nationwide Series races, Blaney has recorded one win, 12 top-five finishes, 31 top-10s and seven poles. He scored top-10 finishes in both of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts to date. Blaney had a stellar career in open-wheel racing before turning his focus to NASCAR. He was the 1983 All-Star Sprint Circuit Rookie-of-the-Year. Blaney claimed the 1984 USAC Silver Crown Championship and was the 1995 World of Outlaws Champion.
--Amy Gordon, wife of Shell-Pennzoil Dodge crew chief Todd Gordon, is entered in “The Better Half Dash” – a charity race pitting women with a stake in stock car racing – at Charlotte Motor Speedway during Bank of America 500 Week in October. The race – pitting wives and girlfriends of NASCAR competitors, along with women working around racing – will benefit Motor Racing Outreach and Speedway Children’s Charities. The Bandolero cars will race on the speedway's frontstretch quarter-mile on Sprint Cup pole night, Oct. 11. “Amy is really looking forward to competing in the race and giving our support to the MRO,” Todd Gordon said. “She will get to practice the next three Tuesday nights on the track in preparing for the race. Amy has been in a race car before, but it was many years back. I let her drive my late model on a three-eighths-mile track back when I was racing in Upstate New York. She turned some respectable lap times out there running by herself. As a matter of fact, she’s going to be wearing one of my old Simpson driving uniforms in the practices. We know our daughters (11-year-old Kali and 7-year-old Ashlyn) are going to get a big kick out of seeing their mom out there racing. Who knows? The girls may see her out there and want to try their hand at it, too. We’re looking at it as a nice family outing that is helping a great cause.”
--In his seven career Sprint Cup starts at NHMS, Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Sam Hornish Jr. is still looking for his first top-five finish, but he has come home with top-10s in a two of the races. He has a 21.9 average start and a 24.1 average finish. He has yet to lead a lap, but has completed 92.9 percent (1,913 of 2,059) of all possible laps and has been running at the finish in six of the seven races. “Our best result at Loudon to date was in the first race of 2009,” Hornish said of the June 28, 2009 edition of the LENOX Industrial Tools race. He started back in the 26th position, but charged to the front and was a fixture among the top 10 for most of the race. “We finished eighth, but we had been running third towards the end of the race. We pitted right before it started raining, while some people stayed out. So we lost five spots at the end. It was a good run, though. We had a good car and the crew did their part all day.”
--New Hampshire Motor Speedway Track Records:
Qualifying – Ryan Newman, 28.165 seconds (135.232 mph), 7/15/11
Race – Jeff Burton, 2 hours, 42 minutes, 35 seconds (117.134 mph), 7/13/97
--2011 Race Numbers:
COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD – Ryan Newman, 28.213 seconds (135.002 mph)
Race – Tony Stewart, 2 hours, 43 minutes, 13 seconds (116.679 mph)
--Shell-Pennzoil is encouraging race fans to make a promise to call 811 before undertaking home digging projects. Fans who make a pledge between now and October 26 will be entered to win a VIP Race Experience at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale as well as Shell gas cards. To make a promise to call 811 before you dig and enter the sweepstakes, visit www.RacetoSouthBeach.com .
--#PenskePride- Penske Racing is asking fans to show their Penske Pride through a unique social media contest that will last for the balance of the 2012 season. Through the #PenskePride contest, each race weekend fans will have the opportunity to Tweet @PenskeRacing pictures showing their support for the Penske Racing organization, their favorite Penske Racing driver(s) or teams in unique and creative ways, using the hashtag #PenskePride. The best weekly photo will be named Fan Photo of the Week. At the end of each month, a Fan Photo of the Month will be selected from the weekly winners. The best monthly photos will be voted on by @PenskeRacing followers to be named Fan Photo of the Year. The winner of Photo of the Year will receive the Ultimate Penske Racing Fan Experience including tickets and hot passes to the 2013 NASCAR All-Star Race, autographed items and a tour of the Penske Racing facility by a Penske driver.
--Follow Sam Hornish Jr. as well as all the Penske Racing drivers on Facebook and Twitter by simply logging on to www.penskeracing.com and click on the respective links. Sam Hornish’s Twitter handle is @SamHornish.
--Follow the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Team on Twitter at http://twitter.com/shellracingus
--You can also follow Penske Racing President Tim Cindric at http://twitter.com/TimCindric , Penske Racing Marketing Vice President Jonathan Gibson at http://twitter.com/jgibson1974 and team spotter Chris Osborne is now active at http://twitter.com/crazyspotter22
-- “Being average is contagious…if you demand more of yourself, you get more.” –Nick Saban
HORNISH "CAN’T WAIT" FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE’S RETURN VISIT
2012 Shell Pennzoil Team Roster
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