Hornish makes the most of Nationwide chance

CHARLOTTE – Not bad for a part-time driver, eh?

Sam Hornish Jr. won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in the No. 54 Toyota on May 18 at Iowa Speedway for Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing. He led 167 laps in the Get to Know Newton 250.

Hornish kept up his excellent record at the 7/8-mile track, where he’d finished second, third and fourth in his previous three races there.

The restart on lap 229 turned into a two-car sprint between Hornish Jr. and Ryan Blaney (Huntersville resident), who led 80 laps. The victory was the third in Hornish Jr.’s Nationwide Series career.

Hornish, 34, said his near misses at Iowa helped him win this time.

“It really hammered into my head exactly what I wanted out of the car and each time I’ve come back it’s been able to get a little bit closer to that, a little bit more of that,” he said.

 

Busch’s truck success continues

CHARLOTTE – Kyle Busch won his second straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race May 16 in the No. 51 Toyota at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The win is Busch’s 38th overall and fourth in his last four starts dating to 2013 (three-for-three this year) in the Truck Series.

He led 130 of the race’s 134 laps. He’s won his past four truck races in Charlotte.

Busch didn’t fare well a night later in the Sprint All-Star Race. He led in the first (of five) segments in the 90-lap race, but ended his night with a crash in the second segment.

 

Wise wins fan vote

CHARLOTTE – Driver Josh Wise, who lives in Cornelius and drives for Huntersville-based Phil Parsons Racing, won entry into the Sprint Cup All-Star Race through fan voting. Nineteen of the 22 slots went to former champions and winners of races in 2013. The next two went to Clint Bowyer and A.J. Allmendinger (Huntersville resident), the top two finishers in the Sprint Showdown.

Wise drives the No. 98 Chevrolet, which includes sponsors digital currency Dogecoin and Reddit.com. That helped generate web-based voting.

“This is kind of a big deal for our sport because it's a lot of young kids and people from around the world," Wise said. “I've had the chance to interact with a lot of them. It's a lot of people who've never watched a NASCAR race. They're tuning in. It's a big deal. About 110 million people regularly use Reddit. A large portion of them knew about this and were a part of it.”

 

RACER RANKINGS

We rank Herald Weekly-area drivers in the racing world:

 

1. Sam Hornish Jr. – He may have lost his ride with Penske Racing last season, but not his touch. Hornish won the Nationwide race in Iowa last week with a strong late performance.

2. Kyle Busch – Won the Camping World Truck Series race last week and is third in the Sprint Cup points race in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota Camry.

3. Matt Kenseth – Finished second in the Sprint All-Star Race, not surprising as he’s been in top 10 in eight points races (of 11) this season. Definitely a championship contender.

4. Ryan Blaney – Had a strong car in the Nationwide race in Iowa, but was edged by Hornish Jr. for the title. Blaney, 20, won the pole, too.

5. Clint Bowyer – Won a Sprint Showdown race on May 16 to earn a spot in the all-star race a day later, where he finished a respectable seventh for Cornelius-based Michael Waltrip Racing.