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Hornish now atop NNS standings after Chicago runner-up

Jul 21, 2013, 9:23 PM EDT

STP 300 Getty Images

Sam Hornish Jr. finally made his move to the top of the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship today at Chicagoland Speedway thanks to an undeniably stout race car that helped him overcome an early problem on pit road.

Hornish, who finished second in the race to Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano, led the first 49 laps of the race but was penalized for speeding in the pits and was sent to 20th place for the Lap 54 restart. After the race, he said a miscommunication between himself and his No. 12 Penske team caused the penalty.

“I knew exactly when I went across the line I was going to be speeding and there were no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Hornish said according to the Associated Press. “They’re like, ‘Oh, I think we’re good.’ I’m like, ‘We’re not good. We’re going to go to the back.’

“We had 150 laps to get it done, we knew we had a good race car. The biggest thing was just maintaining the composure getting back up in the field.”

Hornish quickly made up the ground in the second stint, charging 15 spots to fifth before he made his next stop just after the halfway point of the race. He stayed within the lead pack for the remainder of the day but with 15 laps to go – one lap after the final restart of the day – he was unable to keep Logano from the lead.

“By the time that his car started falling off, it was too late for me to do enough,” Hornish said. “Ran him down, only finished a couple car lengths behind him – but really good day for the Penske organization.”

Indeed, it was. Hornish now holds a seven-point advantage over Regan Smith, who finished 13th after a Lap 129 incident that saw him lose control coming off of Turn 4 and slide into the infield grass.

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