Skip to content

Phoenix could have big impact on Nationwide title race

Nov 6, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT

5-hour ENERGY 200 Getty Images

With three wins at Phoenix International Raceway in his racing career – two in his previous life as an IndyCar driver and one in his current role as a stock car racer – Sam Hornish Jr. (pictured, No. 12) is feeling glad that his battle versus Austin Dillon (pictured, No. 3) for the Nationwide Series championship is coming to PIR this weekend.

“It is always great to comeback to a place that has been good to you,” Hornish said in a statement. “Phoenix definitely has a lot of great memories for me. We’ve won a few races here and they have been the kind of races that have meant more than just a great day at the race track.

“We are engaged in a pretty tight battle for this championship and there really isn’t a place that I would rather race this weekend than at Phoenix.”

But any optimism on Hornish’s part may have to be at least a little tempered, too. He sits second in the NNS standings (down six points to Dillon) with two races to go, and in the last couple of seasons, the penultimate race of the year has had a detrimental impact on the guy that’s been P2 in the table.

In 2011, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (now driving Sprint Cup for Roush Fenway Racing) held a 17-point edge over Elliott Sadler going into Phoenix. Sadler wound up in a multi-car incident in the final stages of the race and finished 27th while Stenhouse logged a sixth-place result to boost his lead to 41 points; Stenhouse would win the title one week later at Homestead-Miami Speedway by a margin of 45 points over Sadler.

Then, in 2012, Stenhouse and Sadler were fighting again for the championship but were tied atop the standings as Phoenix loomed. But with two laps to go in the race, Sadler made contact with Cole Whitt and went rear-first into the wall before getting hit by Brendan Gaughan.

Stenhouse finished third and opened up a lead of 20 points on Sadler, who finished 22nd. At Homestead, Stenhouse would wrap up his second consecutive NNS title with a sixth-place finish.

With one win and three Top-10s in his NNS career at Phoenix, Hornish has had more success there than Dillon. But Dillon has been no slouch, either, with finishes of fourth, sixth and sixth in his last three Phoenix starts.

“It’s a handling race track where it’s very important to work on your car and make sure it’s right for the race,” Dillon said in his own statement. “Phoenix International Raceway is a place where getting off of each corner is very big. Entry is important. You need to be stable but you need to be the first one to the gas.”

Also important for both men will be starting up front. In 18 of the last 23 NNS races at Phoenix, the winner has come from the first two rows.

Latest Posts
  1. NASCAR: Mudsummer Classic at Eldora looks for a solid sequel

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:43 AM EDT

    The CarCash Mudsummer Classic Getty Images

    Eldora Truck race tonight seeks to be as good as the original.

  2. NASCAR: Rudd, Jarrett, Bobby Labonte look back on Brickyard 400 triumphs

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Ricky Rudd Getty Images

    Time has not lessened the significance of winning at Indy for these three NASCAR standouts.

  3. NASCAR: This time at Indy, it’s just stock cars for Kurt Busch

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Outlaw returns to Indianapolis for the first time since his Indy 500-Coke 600 double back in May.

  4. IndyCar: Want Juan Pablo Montoya’s penthouse? It’ll cost you – a lot

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    montoya3 Getty Images

    The Team Penske pilot is putting up his six-bedroom Miami penthouse for a cool $14 million. Better start saving up…

  5. NASCAR: Roush camp looking for speed in Michigan test

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    AAA Texas 500 Getty Images

    Seeking to catch up with their Ford stablemates at Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing’s trio of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have been searching for speed in a two-day test session at Michigan International Speedway.

  6. Indy’s new scoring pylon is quite colorful (PHOTOS)

    Jul 22, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

    The new, 92-foot pylon is made up of four LED panels capable of video animations that relay race info to fans.

  7. MRTI: Cape’s Toronto sweep; Burkett’s latest videos; other odds and ends

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    MazdaRoadToIndy

    Recapping the future stars of IndyCar in action at Toronto this weekend.

  8. Report: Mexican Grand Prix set for 2015 return?

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

    Grand Premio Tecate Getty Images

    A report from Mexico says that Bernie Ecclestone has signed a five-year pact to bring F1 to Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez starting next season.

  9. IndyCar: Hinchcliffe continues to endure home race house of horrors

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    HinchTOR3 Getty Images

    A miserable home weekend in Toronto strikes James Hinchcliffe yet again.

  10. Claire Williams gives vote of confidence for Felipe Massa

    Jul 22, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    Williams’ deputy team principal on Massa: “He is mature enough – and has enough experience in the sport – to realize that sometimes, things don’t go your way.”

  11. Realistically, could Toronto IndyCar shift date to CTMP?

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    CTMPWide Getty Images

    Given politics, dates and dreams, could an IndyCar race at CTMP be possible?

  12. Formula E: Jerome d’Ambrosio confirmed with Dragon Racing

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    JDAFE Getty Images

    Ex-F1 shoe Jerome d’Ambrosio gets signed up for new FE series.

  13. Kyle Larson, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan featured in Cottonelle ads (VIDEO)

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    LarsonCottonelle Getty Images

    Kyle Larson’s got a new house, a new kid on the way and now a new Cottonelle ad he might not be able to live down.

  14. Report: Toto Wolff speaks out against F1′s double points finale

    Jul 22, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT

    Spanish F1 Grand Prix - Practice Getty Images

    Mercedes’ Toto Wolff calls double points “unfair.”

  15. IndyCar: Toronto weekend analysis, musings and observations

    Jul 22, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

    TorontoAnalysis Getty Images

    MST’s Tony DiZinno recaps the weekend in Toronto, that featured a host of surprises.

  16. IndyCar: Gaps grow, but few major changes in points over last month

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:26 AM EDT

    TorontoLeadPts Getty Images

    The stretch of six races in four weekends is over, as is the stretch of doubleheader weekends for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Here’s the points breakdown.

  17. Chase Elliott keeps winning, but he’s not finished capturing checkered flags this season by any stretch

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:38 AM EDT

    Chase Elliott after Saturday's win at Chicagoland Speedway. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

    With the third win of his rookie Nationwide Series career, Chase Elliott continued to make it look easy in this past Saturday night’s EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

  18. NASCAR: Bubba Wallace prepares for Eldora’s “Mudsummer Classic” (VIDEO)

    Jul 21, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT

    (Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Getty Images

    For Wallace and his Truck Series rivals, racing on dirt presents a different set of challenges – and thus requires a different way to train.

  19. NASCAR’s Brian France on RTA’s formation: “We didn’t think it was necessary”

    Jul 21, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    Brian France AP

    In a satellite radio interview, France shared his thoughts on the consortium of NASCAR’s most powerful teams.

  20. IMSA: IndyCar rookie Hawksworth to make sports car debut in Brickyard GP

    Jul 21, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

    Jack Hawksworth AP

    Jack Hawksworth will co-drive the No. 08 Prototype Challenge car for RSR Racing in Friday’s IMSA event on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

More from NASCAR America

Keselowski in championship form

Featured video

Inside scoop with Adrian Sutil
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches