No matter what, you've got to feel just a little bit sorry for Sam Hornish, Jr. He just wanted to stay out of trouble at the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and instead wrecked the points leader Jimmie Johnson on lap three of the race.
Hornish went on to wreck another time during the race, finally putting himself and others out of his misery. But the damage was done and he had cost Johnson over 100 points in the championship chase.
“I got my head down a little bit because I had a really good car," Hornish said. "All we wanted to do is make it so we could race the last three laps like that and not the first three."
“It's just, what do you do?" Hornish continued. "Try to play the game the way you think it should be played and get hit on lap three.
Hornish entered the race with a renewed focus on being patient and staying out of the chase contenders' ways. "One of the things I've been trying to work on the last couple weeks is patience," Hornish said. "I was working on doing what we can to make it to the end."
"Instead, we get run into from behind."
Hornish was referring to getting tapped by the No. 00 of David Reutimann, who slipped up the track to get into Hornish, which started the fiasco of wrecking with points leader Johnson.
"I got hit by the 00 and didn't even have time to correct before I got into Jimmie," Hornish said. "I don't ever want to feel like I've affected the outcome of the championship when I'm not in it."
Hornish said he was trying to just stay out of trouble, especially when he was racing with Mark Martin in front of him and Jimmie Johnson to his outside. He tried to back off a bit, hoping to let the contenders sort it out.
"It's unfortunate, you get somebody behind you that's got a good car and runs into you on lap three," Hornish said of Reutimann. "It's no fun."
Johnson did not think his entanglement with Hornish or the inside wall was very fun either. "I just wish he would have waited a little longer and didn't take me out in the process," Johnson said of Hornish.
"We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
With a yoeman's job by his crew, and assorted crew members from his fellow Hendrick teammates, Johnson was able to re-take the track and log laps. He finished in the 38th position.
Hornish was not so fortunate. After another accident, his car went to the garage, with the driver and team finishing in the 40th spot.
As much as Hornish hated it, his wreck into Johnson did tighten up the championship points battle. While Johnson remains in the lead, he is now just 73 points ahead of Mark Martin going into the final two races of the season.
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