Hornish Wins Race; Stenhouse Closes In On Title
Sam Hornish Jr., a three-time IndyCar Series champion, won his first NASCAR race on Saturday.
The victory for Hornish, who has also won the Indianapolis 500, came in the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
“I won so much over there (Indy car racing) that I didn’t know how much to appreciate it at the time,” a tearful Hornish said. “I came over here and I wanted the challenge of racing these cars because it was the next step. It was something new, it was something that motivated me again. There was many times where I shook my head and go ‘Why did I do this?’ But I did know that I would always regret not trying it so I’m just really, really excited that we were able to keep going. It ranks right up there. My next goal is I want to run for a championship next year and get the funding to be able to do that and then obviously how to figure out how to win a Spring Cup race.”
Finishing second was Hornish’s teammate at Penske Racing, Brad Keselowski.
The battle for the NNS championship was all but decided in Saturday’s penultimate race as points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished fifth while the only driver capable of depriving him of the championship, Elliott Sadler, crashed late in the race.
The crash occurred near Turn 3 when a tap from Jason Leffler’s Chevrolet spun Sadler. Salder slammed into the wall, collecting Aric Almirola in the process. Morgan Shepherd’s Chevrolet came in late and smashed hard into Leffler.
“I’m sure that the video shows that the 38 (Leffler) just ran right into the back of us,” Sadler said. “Not much respect for guys running for the championship. It’s very frustrating. You work all season long to put yourself in a situation, and it all goes away in a split second.”
Leffler accepted responsibility for the wreck.
“I was racing Aric and just made a mistake,” he said. “It’s all my fault. That’s the last thing I wanted to do to Elliott and his guys.”
Stenhouse, driving for Roush Fenway Racing, heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale 42 points ahead of Sadler. Sadler started the race 17 points behind Stenhouse.
“Yeah, I mean we came out here to race and we were leading laps and running out front,” Stenhouse said. “I was a little cautious on those last restarts just for that fact that I didn’t want to get in trouble. I think we can get a little more aggressive on restarts next week and Homestead is one of my favorite places to go so I am looking forward to it.”
Carl Edwards, Stenhouse’s teammate, finished third Saturday.
Joey Logano was fourth.
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