Sam Hornish Jr. Wins The Mid-Ohio Challenge In His Home Stateby Benjamin Sanders August 13, 2017
ALTON, Ohio. – Sam Hornish Jr. took the victory in the Mid-Ohio Challenge on Saturday afternoon at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The native of Defiance, Ohio led a race-high of 61 laps to claim his fifth win in a NASCAR XFINITY Series car.
Hornish Jr.’s Team Penske Ford Mustang was the car to beat all afternoon after sitting on the pole by almost a full-second. The driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang dominated the event. On a couple of late race restarts, Hornish Jr. battled to keep the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet duo of rookie Daniel Hemric and veteran Brendan Gaughan behind him to win for the first time at his home track.
“Man, it’s just super important,” Hornish Jr. said. “I have my family here and a bunch of friends. This is a place that I think I finished second in about three or four other series here, so to finally be able to get the win with the luck that we had for our first two races with me being back at Team Penske this year. I was wondering how today was going to turn out, but man the car has been good ever since we unloaded off the truck and just had a pretty smart, almost flawless day for the most part.”
Hemric finished a career-best second after leading eight laps. Once again, Hemric showed what a quick study he has been in his rookie XFINITY Series season by adapting to yet another new circuit. The driver of the No. 21 Blue Gate Bank Chevrolet spent the entire race on an alternate strategy, which gained him track position at the end of the final two stages, he was the only driver to make the outside line on the restarts work.
Following Hemric in third was Ohio native Matt Tifft, who also scored his career-best finish after a tough start to his rookie campaign. Rounding out the top-five were Australian sports car and Verizon IndyCar Series ace James Davison in fourth and 2011 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Rookie of the Year and current IMSA competitor Andy Lally in fifth.
The remainder of the top-10 consisted of points leader Elliott Sadler, Brendan Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Justin Marks and Dakoda Armstrong.
Throughout the Mid-Ohio Challenge, there were nine lead changes among five drivers. There were also nine cautions for 27 laps.
Sadler, who recovered after being spun at the end of Stage 1 by Poole further strengthens his lead in the standings to 81 points after JR Motorsports teammates, Justin Allgaier and William Byron were involved in a late-race pile-up with on lap 69. The crash brought out an 11-minute, 10-second red flag.
The next race for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is at The Last Great Colosseum, Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 300 on Friday, August 18 at 7:30 p.m. Live coverage will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).
Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images