Sam Hornish, No. 9 BLUE-EMU Ford
Sam Hornish Jr. and the No. 9 BLUE-EMU team raced under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night, bringing in an 18th-place finish in the hometown of BLUE-EMU. While the BLUE-EMU Ford showed speed throughout the weekend, the team wasn’t able to get the breaks they needed to get back on the lead lap after losing a lap halfway through the race.
Hornish started the 500-lap race from the 26th position. By Lap 28, he radioed to Crew Chief Kevin Manion that the No. 9 Blue-Emu Ford needed to turn better. The team got the caution they needed on Lap 53. Hornish reported the car was tight on the bottom of the track. He came to pit road for four tires and fuel and restarted in the 24th position on Lap 58.
Over the next 69 laps, Hornish made his way to into the Top-20. He was in the 20th spot when debris brought out the caution on Lap 124. Hornish reported that the No. 9 BLUE-EMU Ford got freer over the run. Manion called for an air pressure adjustment on the four-tire stop, and Hornish restarted 15th on Lap 133.
Hornish maintained the 15th spot over the next 14 laps when an accident on the frontstretch brought out the caution on Lap 147. This time, Manion called for two right-side tires and fuel. Hornish restarted 17th on Lap 152.
The BLUE-EMU Ford was pinned to the inside lane on the restart and fell back to the 23rd position. When Hornish was finally able to get back on the top lane, he maintained the 23rd spot before going a lap down to the leaders on Lap 207. He radioed to Manion that the No. 9 Ford was tight on just two tires. A caution on Lap 215 allowed Hornish to come to pit road for four tires and fuel. He restarted 24th on Lap 258.
The No. 9 BLUE-EMU Ford raced just outside of the Top-20 until another accident on the frontstretch brought out the yellow flag on Lap 360. Hornish came to pit road for four tires and an air pressure adjustment to help the car rotate better back to throttle. The No. 9 Ford restarted 22nd on Lap 386.
The field saw three more cautions over the next 63 laps. Hornish stayed on the track for the first two cautions, but came to pit road on Lap 431 when NASCAR Officials waved the yellow flag for debris. He reported the BLUE-EMU Ford felt better over the last run, just a tick tight on exit. Hornish said he didn’t want to change anything on the stop as he was comfortable with the handling. Not eligible for the wave-around, he came to pit road for four fresh tires to close out the final 62 laps. He restarted 19th on Lap 438.
In the end, Hornish gained one spot to take the checkered flag in the 18th position, two laps down. With the Top-20 finish, Hornish remains 25th in the Championship Point Standings.
“We had a good BLUE-EMU Ford Fusion,” said Hornish. “Everyone did a good job throughout the weekend to make the car better from where we unloaded. We had to adjust on it a little bit at the beginning of the race, but all-in-all, we had a good car. We didn’t really get the breaks we needed, fell a lap down and just weren’t able to recover. We came into the race knowing we wanted to be patient and race clean to have the car in one piece at the end, and that’s what we did.”
A performance and marketing driven company, Richard Petty Motorsports, co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and successful business entrepreneur Andrew Murstein, is one of the most recognized brands in all of motorsports. With a history of over 200 wins and business partnerships with national and global leaders, today the race operation fields two teams in competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Aric Almirola pilots the famous No. 43 Ford Fusion with primary partners Smithfield Foods, U.S. Air Force, STP, Strike Ten Entertainment and Fresh From Florida, and Sam Hornish, Jr. drives the No. 9 machine with primary partner Twisted Tea. In addition, Dakoda Armstrong wheels the No. 43 WinField Ford Mustang full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The team is headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.