Category Archives: Xfinity Series

Hornish Jr Claims Victory at Mid-Ohio

(Courtesy: NASCAR Media)

LEXINGTON, OH – AUGUST 12: Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, takes the green flag to start the NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 12, 2017 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Sam Hornish Jr. dominated Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge, but his victory was anything but certain until the waning laps of a caution-filled race. 

Hornish, driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang, earlier had eclipsed his own qualifying record at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and edged series rookie Daniel Hemric by 1.335 seconds when the event ultimately went green for the final time with five circuits remaining in the 75-lap distance. 

The victory was the fifth in the series by Hornish, whose last win came in June of 2016 at Iowa Speedway. 

LEXINGTON, OH – AUGUST 12: Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, poses with the winners sticker after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 12, 2017 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hornish, who led four times for 61 laps, traded the top spot with Hemric’s No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro four times over the race’s third and final stage. He took the point for the last time on Lap 62, on a restart following the seventh caution. 

Veteran Brendan Gaughan advanced to the second after Justin Allgaier and James Davison slipped off the track in Turn 3 at Lap 63, setting up a final restart battle that ended prematurely when Gaughan’s No. 62 RCR Chevrolet Camaro was forced off the track by Hornish shortly after the green flag. 

“I finally got the win (at Mid-Ohio),” said Hornish, who finished second here a year ago. “We had a smart, almost flawless day but I feel bad about the 62. I didn’t want to beat him that way.” 

LEXINGTON, OH – AUGUST 12: Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, practices for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 12, 2017 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Rookie Matt Tifft finish third in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, improving his best NASCAR XFINITY Series finish from a fifth-place at Kentucky Speedway last September. Davison, an international racing star and Indianapolis 500 competitor, took fourth in the No. 20 JGR Toyota, followed by sports car veteran Andy Lally, whose No. 07 Chevrolet Camaro team posted their first top-10 finish in the series. 

Twenty-four of the race’s 40 starters completed all 75 laps. Five drivers, Hornish, Hemric, Blake Koch, Ryan Reed and Elliott Sadler, traded the lead nine times. 

NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader Sadler spotted the field an early spin and a green flag pit stop to change a flat tire, but he ultimately took sixth, ahead of Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Justin Marks and Dakoda Armstrong. 

Koch won the race’s first stage when Hornish elected to pit with three laps left and leader Sadler was spun in Turn 1 by Poole. 

Hornish quickly went back to the front of the field after Stage 1 pit stops, claiming Stage 2 over Hemric and Davison. 

Saturday’s race left the playoff picture unchanged with no bubble drivers able to bump their way into the standings. Sadler holds an 81-point lead over William Byron, who appeared headed for a top 10 until being caught up in a late accident relegating him to a 25th-place finish.

Kyle Busch Takes Home First Xfinity Series Win at Watkins Glen

(Courtesy: NASCARMedia.com)

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 05: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Rowdy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 5, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – With a victory in Saturday’s Zippo 200, Kyle Busch continued to tick items off his bucket list. 

Recovering from a wheel-hop and spin in Turn 1 on Lap 17 of 82 along with a penalty for driving through too many pit boxes, Busch claimed his first NASCAR XFINITY Series win at the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International road course, beating polesitter Joey Logano to the finish line by 1.049 seconds. 

“The cars have really been working for me here and it just feels so good to finally win an XFINITY race here,” said Busch, who won last week at Pocono for the first time in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car. 

“We’ve been so close so many times. One of my favorite runs here was in a Zippo car (in 2008) and being in the Zippo race today that’s kind of ironic – I guess they sponsor it every year — but being with (owner) Eddie D’Hondt and the Zippo car, I remember we were really, really fast and wish we would’ve got that one.” 

In winning for the fourth time this season and the 90th time in his career, Busch grabbed the lead when Brad Keselowski and Logano came to pit road together on Lap 49. 

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 05: Paul Menard, driver of the #2 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 5, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Busch gained time by staying on the track for five more laps, and by the time he exited pit road on lap 55, he was 1.2 seconds ahead of Keselowski and more than 10 seconds ahead of Logano, who had a lengthy pit stop because of a stuck lug nut.

 “Pit road was pretty good for us,” Busch said. “We stayed out long on that one run, and we were able to cycle back up to the lead. It worked two weeks in a row that way. I don’t know how much longer we can do that before they figure it out, but it’s been working for us, so we’ll take it.” 

Busch held the top spot the rest of the way, surviving a restart with three laps left after Casey Mears ran out of fuel and stalled on the track to bring out the fifth and final caution of the afternoon. Busch chose the inside lane for the restart to control the preferred line into Turn 1. 

The restart brought Logano back near the front of the field, and on the next-to-last lap, he passed Keselowski, his Team Penske teammate, for the runner-up spot. 

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 05: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 REV/Fleetwood Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 5, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

“Dang, I wish it was for the win and not for second,” Logano said of the battle with Keselowski. “I had such a good short run car, just in the wrong position to start that last run. I feel like, if I was second, I could have won the race. I just had a really good short-run car. 

“Our long-run speed was off a bit, and that’s when the 18 (Busch) and 22 (Keselowski) would drive by us, and we were a third-place car on the long run, but probably a winning car on the short run. By the time I cleared the 22, the 18 was gone. If we had another four or five laps, (he would have drove off again). I needed a caution.” 

Keselowski ran third, followed by Just Allgaier, Paul Menard and Kevin Harvick. Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, Brendan Gaughan and William Byron completed the top 10. 

Note: Busch has indicated he plans to “retire” from NASCAR XFINITY Series racing when he reaches 100 victories. That will take at least until 2019. According to rules being implemented for the 2018 season, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veterans can compete in only seven XFINITY races during the year. … The victory was the 139th in the series for Joe Gibbs Racing, breaking a tie with Roush Fenway Racing for most in XFINITY history.

Dreams do Come True – Preece Earns First NASCAR Xfinity Series Win at Iowa

(Courtesy: NASCARMedia.com)

NEWTON, IA – JULY 29: Ryan Preece, driver of the #20 MoHawk Northeast Inc. Toyota, leads the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR XFINITY Series US Cellular 250 Presented by American Ethanol at Iowa Speedway on July 29, 2017 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

NEWTON, Iowa — Ryan Preece’s short-lived, but ambitious 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule began three weeks ago at his de facto home track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

It ended Saturday in the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway — as confetti swirled and soared to highlight his first career series triumph in Victory Lane. 

Preece, held off a hard-charging Kyle Benjamin in a green-white checkered finish that came after the third restart in the race’s final 17 pulse-quickening laps. 

“I thought this race would never end, that’s for sure,” an emotional Preece told the NBCSN after finally slowing his fast Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 car to a stop. “But man, nothing’s going to beat today.” 

No one could beat Preece, who ran full-time in 2016, but chose to funnel his 2017 XFINITY Series resources into this two-race stint with JGR. 

NEWTON, IA – JULY 29: Ryan Preece, driver of the #20 MoHawk Northeast Inc. Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series US Cellular 250 Presented by American Ethanol at Iowa Speedway on July 29, 2017 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

That high-stakes gamble clearly paid off — as Preece beamed and raised his arms, his season over, but his future visibly brighter. 

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Preece, who owns 17 career NASCAR Whelan Modified Tour wins, including two this season. “I’ve got to thank everybody.” 

So he did. 

Benjamin settled for second, which also is his best career finish. Veteran Brian Scott took third in his first start of the season. 

“I was very nervous,” said Benjamin, who also runs part-time for JGR. “I wanted to make it happen right there.” 

Preece did just that, from start to finish, with a slight hiccup in between. 

He earned his first career Coors Light Pole Award earlier Saturday, powering to a lap of 24.072 seconds at a top speed of 130.857 mph. That dominance carried over into the first stage, which Preece led in its entirety. 

He dropped to sixth off pit road, however, which allowed Justin Allgaier to surge to the front. Allgaier would narrowly hold off Preece to win the second stage and gain a coveted playoff point, but a later gamble would reap misfortune instead of reward. 

Drivers faced a dilemma when Spencer Gallagher hit the wall, drawing the caution flag with 80 laps to go. Every top contender eventually dove onto pit road. Everyone except Allgaier, that is, whose team hoped another caution would help the decision pay off. 

That didn’t happen, as Allgaier swiftly dropped from first to seventh, then to 15th — and finally,  to a green flag pit stop that came with 25 laps to go. That longed-for caution finally flew shortly after Allgaier returned to the track when Sam Hornish Jr.’s No. 22 Ford hit the wall. 

Allgaier’s second bad break in as many weeks preceded that nerve-fraying — and caution-filled — finish.

 Points leader Elliott Sadler raced near the front most of the day, but ended up 12th. He maintains a 54-point lead over William Byron, who finished ninth. 

Preece clearly wasn’t racing for points. Only a win. 

NEWTON, IA – JULY 29: Ryan Preece, driver of the #20 MoHawk Northeast Inc. Toyota, affixes the winner’s decal to his car in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series US Cellular 250 Presented by American Ethanol at Iowa Speedway on July 29, 2017 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

And he edged Benjamin by a mere .054 seconds — a fitting margin to conclude a sprint-sized season that ended in happy incredulity. 

“I’m so at a loss of words right now,” Preece said. “I don’t know what to say. This is what emotion is, I can tell you that.”