SRT Motorsports – Dodge Sam Hornish Open Interview – PhoenixBy Official Release
SRT Motorsports – Sam Hornish Jr. Open Interview
Great Clips 300
Phoenix International Raceway
Sam Hornish Jr. scored his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory one year ago here at Phoenix International Raceway. Hornish led the most laps (61) and edged Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski by .533 seconds for the victory.
Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger) “I always look forward to going back to Phoenix. I’ve got a lot of really good memories of running at Phoenix. I think the biggest thing that I like about Phoenix is it’s kind of all the things that I like in a racetrack. It’s a compromise racetrack where both ends aren’t the same. You’re going to get your car working the best you can in one end and know that you’re going to give up a little bit in the other end. A lot of times I feel like people try too hard to focus on getting their car perfect in both ends and it’s just not going to happen. You’ve got to carry the car a little bit at one end. I like the fact that it’s pretty flat. It used to have very little grip. Those are things that I generally like: low grip, low amount of banking and different corners. Phoenix always suited me fairly well. I won my first IndyCar race there. I believe I ! won the last IndyCar race that they held there as well. I also started my first Nationwide and Cup events there and got my first Cup top 10, my first Nationwide win. When you have those kind of warm and fuzzy and positive feelings going into a racetrack, it’s hard to deny it. With having that kind of run or having good feelings and a lot of really positive things that come out of there, it puts you in a good state mentally and just makes everything go a little bit better. Even if your car is not handling the way that you want it to on your practice days, you know you’ve done it right before and you know you’ve figured it out before so why wouldn’t you be able to do it again. ”
HOW BIG WAS THE NATIONWIDE WIN LAST FALL AT PHOENIX FOR YOU AND YOUR CAREER? HOW SPECIAL WAS THAT VICTORY? “It was real special for me. Crystal (wife) was able to be there; the girls (Addison and Eliza) weren’t. That’s about the only thing that I really look as a negative that day, that the girls weren’t there to enjoy it. It was at a really pivotal time. We were about 90 percent of the way there with all of our sponsorship to be able to come back and run full-time in the Nationwide Series. That win just kind of sealed the deal, you know, as far as being able to go back out there. After the race, Roger (Penske, Chairman, Penske Corporation) gave me a lot of credit for what I’d been doing, the testing that I’d done for the Cup teams and stuff like that. It was beyond just winning at Phoenix. It gave him an outlet to be able to say ‘We really think a lot of Sam and he’s! helped out our Cup program doing testing for us’.
“On the other hand, a couple weeks before that Dan Wheldon had passed away in a race at Las Vegas. I don’t have a whole lot of friends in racing because I’m a shy guy. Basically, I always felt like I didn’t need to have any because then, if anybody got hurt, I didn’t have all that concern from not only somebody I raced with but also a friend. One of my buddies got me a sticker for my visor that I think Jimmie Johnson had made up and we were able to win that weekend and had that on. I look back on those pictures and it’s a reminder of a really good day and it’s also a reminder of a really bad day. I always think about the fact that you know the bad day was obviously a few weeks before that but you know getting the opportunity to go to victory lane and have that is something that I think back on is a fitting or nice way to remember my first stock car points paying win.”
Chad Walter (Crew Chief, No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger) “I feel like Phoenix has been one of the best race tracks for us. Sam really has a lot of confidence when he walks into that racetrack. He had a lot of success there in the open wheel ranks as well. The win last year was something special and something we’re looking to repeat for sure.
“I think our best notes are from the race last fall. We really weren’t as strong of a car as we’d like to have had in the spring. Our teammate Brad Keselowski had a very strong race car in the spring. We’ve got a pretty good folder to look at and we’ve definitely made progress on our short track program during the season albeit our Richmond race didn’t pan out as well as we’d have liked. We ran very well at Loudon and the first Richmond race. We were pretty good at the first Phoenix race, too. We just didn’t quite hit the nail on the head.”
“I think you really have to be strong and stable getting into Turn 1 to be able to turn your car underneath the competition and have good drive off of Turn 4. I’m going to say the front half of the racetrack, from Turn 4 all the way down to Turn 1 and into the middle of Turns 1 and 2. In my opinion there’s several ways to get through 1 and 2 and get yourself set up for 3 but there’s not a whole lot that can be done down there. You really have to drive off of four and get into one better than most of ‘em.”