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Sam Hornish Jr. Puts Ford and Penske Racing in Victory Lane

Sam Hornish Jr. Puts Ford and Penske Racing in Victory Lane

Reclaiming a Penske Racing victory.


SAM HORNISH JR., No. 12 Wurth Ford Mustang (Finished 1st)

VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW “This feels awesome. The car was great. One of the things I said when we did the ride around was what a great crowd we had here. I didn’t know until this morning that this was the Sam’s Town 300. It is kinda cool that I was able to win it. I have to thank all the people at Penke Racing and Roush Yates engines for giving us this opportunity. It is great to get Penske Racing’s first victory back in a Ford. We were so close at Daytona. Man, the car was awesome today. It was a real joy to drive. I gotta thank all the guys on the Penske team for giving me an awesome car to race with. When you have a car that is good you are always worried something bad is going to happen or you will get caught in somebody else’s problem. I am glad that didn’t happen today.”

 

TREVOR BAYNE, No. 6 World Financial Group Ford Mustang (Finished 4th)

“We had a lot of ups and downs today but we fought back every single time. These guys never got down. You couldn’t tell a difference on the radio in their tone of voice. That is what it takes. We have to take bad days, and this should have been a 12th place day after we wrecked, and we finished fourth. We had a chance to win it at the end and didn’t get position on them. I am really proud.”

 

TRAVIS PASTRANA, No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang (Finished 10th)

YOU PASSED A LOT OF CARS OUT THERE TODAY, WHAT WAS YOUR DAY LIKE? “I am figuring if we can be eighth to 12th the first ten races – I had a sit down with Chad (Norris) and he told me I could drive here but not to overdrive the beginning. He said, ‘We are going to play it on the conservative side.’ I told him I wanted it to be more free. If we had gone with what I thought I wanted after practice I probably would have crashed. It is awesome to rely on this Roush Fenway Ford team. I am just excited to have finished a race after last weekend. We learned something even though practice was canceled. Last weekend we had a lot of practice but we have no idea what we would have done for the race. I am really excited for the guys and I know there is a lot I need to work on for next weekend but a top-10 finish here, I will definitely take it.”

 

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang (Finished 37th)

YOU WERE LOOKING AT THE FRONT END, WHAT DID IT TURN OUT TO BE CAUSING THE VIBRATION? “I don’t know. We don’t know or we would have it fixed by now. It is disappointing because the Discount Tire Ford was really fast. It looks like my teammate Sam Hornish is really fast. Something just broke in the mid part of the race and we couldn’t figure it out. It kept getting worse and worse. Something was broke in the front end. It just wasn’t going to run in lap speed and something eventually broke really big going down the straightaway and we needed to get off the track before we got somebody else wrecked or brought out a yellow. It is just really unfortunate.”

 

SAM HORNISH JR. RACE WINNER PRESS CONFERENCE

 

SAM HORNISH JR., No. 12 Wurth Ford Mustang – TALK ABOUT HOW IT FEELS TO WIN HERE AT LAS VEGAS. “It feels great to win here. I didn’t even realize it was the Sam’s Town 300 until this morning at the drivers meeting. I said, ‘That is a pretty good one for me to win. I already have my name on the trophy.’ We had a great car all day long. From about the third lap of practice I knew we had a pretty good piece and made some small adjustments to it throughout practice and a little bit for the race and the car was real good. I think the thing that really set us apart was we were able to put our car just about anywhere we wanted on the track and switch it up from one lap to the next. We took our time with a lot of things and the pit crew did a good job getting all the wheels tight and fuel in the car. When you have as good of a car as you do today you don’t have to win the race on pit road, you just have to make sure you don’t lose it there. Greg made great calls making the car better and the track did change going from being mostly overcast at the beginning of the race to sunny at the end of it. I am real happy with the way that we ran. On about lap 10 I thought we had a pretty good car and just wanted to make sure we took care of it. That is what we did and we felt like we could lead and went and did it. We felt like there was no reason to push it and just kind of ran there. You dream about having cars like this and when you get one to victory lane, because we had a couple last year that were pretty darn good that didn’t get to victory lane, the fact that we did today means a lot to me.”

 

GREG ERWIN, crew chief, No. 12 Ford Mustang – TALK ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS WIN AND HOW THINGS WENT OUT THERE TODAY. “I don’t know if I can really wrap this one up. Coming over to Penske Racing in December like I did and having an opportunity to work with all the people that Roger has assembled over there is kind of amazing. The way they have made me feel so welcome and have done about anything that I have asked there has been somebody there to help me out. There has been no doubt in my mind since the first day I sat down with this fella right here that he has his eye on the ball and is going to do just about anything I ask him to do to put this car in victory lane. I feel so privileged to be a part of this program. Winning out here means a lot and I have been involved with some very good Cup programs out here and just never were able to close the deal. I was going to go back to victory lane and we did it here. I couldn’t feel better and I am so proud of all the guys on that team we have, that number 12 car is quite a mix of new and old people left over. It just means the world and feels great.”

 

SAM HORNISH CONTINUED – HAVE YOU EVER HAD A CAR UNDER YOU THIS GOOD SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE STOCK CAR RANKS? “I feel like the last time I had a car that good was probably the All-Star race in 2008. We had a really good car last year at Charlotte in the Nationwide Series with the Wurth paint scheme and we didn’t get to ever race it. I felt as good about that car in practice as I did this one. We made it about two laps in the race before we got a miscommunication between the spotter and myself and ended up wrecked. We ran top five times with the replacement radiator and a whole bunch of other stuff. It is great to have cars like this. It reminds me of some of my Indy Car days of having good cars and going out there. I think I used more energy celebrating than I did actually driving the car today. It felt good and there was maybe one time I scared myself a little bit and thought we have 90 to go we can take it easy and stretch it out. It is a great feeling to be able to do that. I think one of the things that hopefully is good about this team at this point is that as soon as I found out Greg was going to be over here he sent me a text and we sat down and started talking. I haven’t had anybody that has been as dedicated as what he has. It makes me feel like good things are going to come. It makes me want to work harder and all the guys on the team want to work harder too. It is great for us to all be hungry the way we are and we feel like we have a lot of good opportunities here at Penske Racing. Roger has said many times he wants a third Cup team again and we want to make sure we do things the right way. It is one thing at a time and we want to get our Ford to victory lane first and there is a difference with the Roush Yates – the Penske guys did a great job with engines the last couple of years and had really great reliability but this takes it to the next little thing. They absorbed a lot of people from Penske so there were things brought over that we were doing. It is a great combination and shows what a business man and person that Roger is. A lot of people questioned why you would go somewhere else after the success you had with Dodge but he knew there was a way we could be better and he wanted to jump full on to it and see if we could live up to what we should.”

 

GREG ERWIN CONTINUED – GIVEN THAT SO MUCH OF THIS SERIES IS CONTESTED ON INTERMEDIATE TRACKS HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO PUT SUCH A QUALITY EFFORT TOGETHER TODAY? “We spent so much time in December going through where the 12 cars were last year in terms of setup and chassis configuration and shock packages and geometry and all those things. We looked at, quite honestly, some of the things the 2 and 22 Cup programs were doing. We worked and communicated with those guys really well and tried to take a little of what we saw there that were positives and took some of the things that I kind of feel from history are our gains. We sort of really dug in and got to talk to Sam a little bit and just found out about where his cars needed to be better. We went across the board and just made these little improvements. It comes down to pit crew, the engine which is performing flawlessly. The body is a gain for us and some of the things in geometry is a gain. It doesn’t matter if it is Cup or Nationwide, when you can elevate your game by a couple percent across the board you get days like we had today. I honestly have never been part of a car that could drive from fourth or fifth or sixth to the lead inside a couple of laps the way the car would restart and drive off of two down the backstretch. I knew about halfway through the race we had something special. It was just a matter of holding all the pieces together and keeping the thing pointed straight on the race track. I am proud of him and the guys on the team and thankful to be a part of it.”

 

GREG, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW PENSKE RACING INITIALLY WERE RECRUTING YOU FOR AJ ALLMENDINGER’S CAR AND THEN IRONICALLY HE ENDS UP GOING TO INDY CAR AND YOU HAVE A INDY CAR CHAMP HERE. THE WHOLE THING IS REALLY KIND OF BIZARRE IN A SENSE BUT WITH YOUR BACKGROUND IN ENGINEERING IT SEEMS TO PLAY WELL INTO PENSKE. “I think directionally they have kind of set the ship that way. My relationship with AJ was one that was short lived for me there with my previous employment. The truth of the matter is that you have a guy here that has won arguably one of the biggest races in the world and several championships in a series that is driven predominantly by engineering tactics and technology and things like that. I think I walked into this deal and I understand and can appreciate and see all the things that go on at Penske Racing that in my heart show me that there is a level of perfection there that I don’t think you want to race against. If you really knew and when you can get all the flags pointed in one direction it really lets you know there is some horsepower behind you. As far as this guy is concerned, if you can do some of the things he has done in race cars and had the success he has there is no doubt in my mind he can be a champion in this series. He just needs the pieces of the puzzle to fall together. This sport is all momentum. You guys see it. You cover it every week. You run good and run good and sometimes run good when you shouldn’t and we call that momentum. To get that ball across the goal line today and finish with a win is awesome.”

 

SAM HORNISH JR. CONTINUED – YOU WERE EMOTIONAL IN VICTORY LANE. YOU HAVE HAD SOME STRUGGLES IN THIS SPORT. HOW MUCH IS GETTING BACK TO VICTORY LANE GIVE YOU VINDICATION, JUSTIFICATION, ETC.? “When I won at Phoenix a couple of years ago I had a hard time celebrating because I didn’t feel like celebrating at that time because of the loss of Dan (Wheldon) at the race track. That was something where there were a lot of questions in my mind as far as what I should be doing with the rest of my life and things like that. Also just knowing that it could be anybody and I couldn’t celebrate like I wanted to and I had to basically use my faith to be able to figure out what was the right thing for me. With the troubles we had toward the end of the season last year – not troubles but when it was announced that I wasn’t going to be in the 22 Cup car that was another hit. I got to the last race of the season at Miami and my last crew chief Chad told me, ‘If you ever get some confidence I don’t think they will stop you.’ I have had some pretty hard hits to the ego and I don’t think I am one that had a big ego in the first place but to go through some of the things we have gone through in the past six years – today I remembered the first time I ever came out here to Las Vegas to race. I came back here with a couple year old car and I was able to finish in the top three. That finish allowed the team to get a brand new car to go to Indianapolis and that race at Indy got me in the eyes of a couple people. It is one of those full circle things. Maybe I will take this 13 years later and try to make the best I can of it. It is just wonderful. It is what racing is all about. You have ups and downs and you have to remember a lot of times that it is just a game. It means a heck of a lot to us and we want to win and want to win championships and races and all that good stuff but it is pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things. I love doing it and have had a lot of fun and worked harder than I have in a little while and a lot of that comes from Greg and the motivation. I have said that this is like a giant puzzle we are trying to put together and we have to have multiple pieces to put it together. I feel like that was a good piece and made me want to be better. We have some really good people at Penske Racing with the guys that work on the cars and people like Jeremy Boone and Shawn Powell that work on the strength and mental part. I have worked on that as much as I have driving the race car.”

 

ARE THE FIRST THREE RACES THIS SEASON AND WHAT YOU HAVE OVERCOME IN TRYING TO PUT A CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON TOGETHER? “I think that Greg and I, although I didn’t go to college or through an engineering program, have a lot in common. We have had a couple hits the last few years that have made us hungry for things. One of the things I tried to stress to him that he already knew but was probably good to hear come from my mouth was that we needed to get out of the gate good. At Daytona we got out luckily with only a little damage and I thought we would finish second or first regardless if that happened but that damage kept us from maybe winning that race. We had an awful weekend last weekend but came out of it and the guys did a awesome job getting the car repaired and getting a seventh place finish. This week firing on all eight cylinders we got to victory lane. That is what we needed to do. Yeah it is really early but I would rather be 19 points ahead than 80 behind. Let’s just keep digging and trying to do the best we can. That is what we are here for. We would like to make this kind of a yawner toward the end of the season and have the points already wrapped up.”

 

WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET AND HOW DID YOU APPROACH THE FINAL RESTART? “I was half happy that the yellow came out after that next to last restart because I didn’t feel like I got a good one and Kyle was playing a game with me trying to make me go and I fell into the trap and didn’t have a good restart. The fact that we had an opportunity to try again and I got the proper run on the restart and was able to hold him off was a good thing. I have had races in Indy Car where I have led 160 laps and somehow on the last 40 it fell apart because of yellows and restarts and all that. You never like to see it but you have a car like you do today and you can beat someone as good on restarts as Kyle Busch is and it makes you feel pretty good about your day. That is the cherry on top that we had those two restarts that we were able to hold him off.”

 

CONSIDERING WHERE YOU ARE AT IN YOUR CAREER, WAS IT NERVE WRACKING AT ALL TO KNOW YOU HAD THE BEST CAR AND IF YOU DIDN’T WIN PEOPLE WOULD HAVE BLAMED YOU FOR IT AND NOBODY ELSE? “They probably would have blamed me before they blamed Greg, I can attest to that. People are going entitled to their opinion and some of them are good and some are bad. I felt like I had to go out there and do the best that I can. We had a really good long run car and the fact that we got a short run there at the end could have hurt us. I didn’t even think about that. I just thought about what I had to do to beat the 54 and whoever else was coming knocking on the back door. I feel that as time goes by a lot of people’s opinions will change. One of the toughest parts about this sport is you have to have the right chemistry with the people around you and if you don’t it will never work. You can try, and that was the problem, instead of me going, ‘I am just going to finish 25th today because I can’t win,’ I was like, ‘I will be damned if I don’t put this on my back and try to get us to 15th.’ I got myself in trouble. Now I have a different aspect and outlook on what I need to do to be able to have good days so I am not saying I will never make a mistake again because we all do but I am looking forward to making as few of them as I possibly can.”

 

WHEN YOU MADE THE MOVE ON THE RESTART TO BLAST UNDER THOSE GUYS, HOW MUCH DOES THAT IS INCREASED CONFIDENCE AND HOW MUCH IS YOU FEELING YOU HAD SOMETHING TO PROVE? “That was a necessity today. I want to make moves like that all the time but there are times to make them and times not to. We knew at that point we had a really good car and I told Greg during that yellow that we had an awesome car and if we got clean air we would show them what it was like. I don’t know what happened but I think it was Kyle that was on the outside, I am not exactly sure. Whoever was on the outside with Vickers they both spun their tires a little and I had the perfect restart and was able to pull down and do exactly what we needed to do. I’ve had opportunities to do stuff like that but when you do it for the lead everyone notices it a lot more.”

 

 

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