Hornish Jr. edges Hemric to claim first Mid-Ohio victory

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.

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.”

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.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Results Mid-Ohio Challenge

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Lexington, Ohio

Saturday, August 12, 2017

1. (1) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 75.

2. (6) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 75.

3. (5) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 75.

4. (11) James Davison, Toyota, 75.

5. (13) Andy Lally, Chevrolet, 75.

6. (2) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 75.

7. (17) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 75.

8. (10) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 75.

9. (21) Justin Marks, Chevrolet, 75.

10. (28) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 75.

11. (3) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 75.

12. (16) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 75.

13. (18) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 75.

14. (25) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 75.

15. (14) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 75.

16. (34) Anthony Kumpen, Chevrolet, 75.

17. (35) David Starr, Chevrolet, 75.

18. (29) Enrique Baca, Dodge, 75.

19. (30) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 75.

20. (36) Tim Cowen, Ford, 75.

21. (39) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 75.

22. (26) Scott Lagasse Jr., Chevrolet, 75.

23. (40) Cody Ware(i), Dodge, 75.

24. (37) Stephen Young, Chevrolet, 75.

25. (23) William Byron #, Chevrolet, Accident, 67.

26. (7) Ben Kennedy #, Chevrolet, Accident, 67.

27. (15) Dylan Lupton, Toyota, Accident, 67.

28. (12) Regan Smith(i), Toyota, Accident, 67.

29. (22) Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, Accident, 67.

30. (33) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, Accident, 67.

31. (8) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 67.

32. (19) Casey Mears, Ford, Engine, 64.

33. (4) Ryan Reed, Ford, Accident, 57.

34. (32) Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 56.

35. (9) Cole Custer #, Ford, 54.

36. (24) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, Accident, 51.

37. (20) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, Accident, 51.

38. (27) Matt Bell, Chevrolet, Accident, 15.

39. (31) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Transmission, 9.

40. (38) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Handling, 5.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  64.154 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 38 Mins, 23 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.335 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 27 laps.

Lead Changes:  9 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   S. Hornish Jr. 1-17; E. Sadler 18; B. Koch 19-21; R. Reed 22-23; D. Hemric # 24; S. Hornish Jr. 25-42; D. Hemric # 43-45; S. Hornish Jr. 46-57; D. Hemric # 58-61; S. Hornish Jr. 62-75.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  S. Hornish Jr. 4 times for 61 laps; D. Hemric # 3 times for 8 laps; B. Koch 1 time for 3 laps; R. Reed 1 time for 2 laps; E. Sadler 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,48,62,16,4,51,39,21,22,8

Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,21,20,7,07,42,18,2,48,11

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.