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. Latest edition of the Penske Files: You wanted more bloopers, you’ve got ‘em!

    Aug 21, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT

    penske file bloopers 8-21-2014

    After the popularity of the team’s drivers, the next most popular thing around Team Penske is The Penske Files, especially editions that contain bloopers. Check out the latest edition of TPF bloopers!

  2. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 6:30 p.m. ET — Steve Letarte, Tennessee racing history, Truck race highlights

    Aug 21, 2014, 3:37 PM EDT

    140821-NASCAR-AMERICA

    Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, which airs LIVE at 6:30 pm ET, will cover a lot of ground, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. crew chief (and future NASCAR on NBC analyst) Steve Letarte, breaking down and the history of Bristol Motor Speedway and lots more.

  3. Sochi street circuit approved ahead of Russian GP

    Aug 21, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    A Russian Time GP2 car drives at the newly opened Sochi International Street Circuit in Sochi Reuters

    Russian Grand Prix set to be held in Sochi in six weeks’ time after the track is given a license.

  4. Off The Grid: Budapest – Our favorite city on the F1 calendar (VIDEO)

    Aug 21, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Budapest

    Catch this sneak preview of Off The Grid: Budapest ahead of tomorrow’s premiere.

  5. Spa provides a poignant reminder that F1 must remember its roots

    Aug 21, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice Getty Images

    As impressive as many of F1’s new builds are, we must remember the likes of Spa and Monza when looking to the future of the sport.

  6. Alonso targeting third place in both F1 championships

    Aug 21, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ferrari’s lead driver has high hopes for the second half of the season.

  7. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Belgian GP

    Aug 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Previews Getty Images

    The MST writing team makes its predictions ahead of this weekend’s race at Spa.

  8. After 62 starts, Brad Keselowski finally earns first career Trucks win at Bristol

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hard as it may seem to believe, Brad Keselowski had never won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in his career. That was before Thursday’s UNOH 200 at Bristol, where Keselowski dominated en route to the checkered flag.

  9. Bottas confident Williams is yet to reach its peak

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    Germany F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Finnish driver yet to be confirmed at Williams for 2015, but sees no reason to look elsewhere for a seat.

  10. F1, IndyCar, Red Bull GRC highlight jam-packed motorsports weekend on networks of NBC

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    nbcsports1 (1)

    All your TV times for F1, IndyCar, Red Bull Global Rallycross and more for this weekend’s motorsports action across NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  11. Alexander Rossi to make F1 debut in Belgium, replaces Chilton

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice Getty Images

    Chilton benched whilst his contractual issues are resolved, allowing Rossi to become the first American since Scott Speed in 2007 to race in a grand prix.

  12. Postponed Camping World Trucks race underway at Bristol

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT

    Bristol motor speedway logo

    The rescheduled UNOH 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway is underway Thursday morning.

  13. Lotterer warns not to expect too much from his F1 debut

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Le Mans 24h Race Getty Images

    Three-time Le Mans winner to make his F1 debut with Caterham this weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix.

  14. Sutil: Verstappen is a risky choice for Toro Rosso

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Testing At Silverstone - Day One Getty Images

    Sauber driver is open to the idea of a 17-year-old racing in F1, and hopes to be on the grid with him next season.

  15. Lotterer debut a refreshing tonic for F1, Caterham

    Aug 21, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain - Practice Getty Images

    Compared to F1 hopefuls and/or retreads, seeing a relative outsider in Andre Lotterer make his debut this weekend is a welcome change of pace.

  16. 2014 Belgian Grand Prix Preview

    Aug 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race Getty Images

    After a three-week summer break, what better way to welcome Formula 1 back than with the Belgian Grand Prix?

  17. Rain postpones Bristol Trucks race to Thursday morning

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:11 PM EDT

    bristol rain Getty Images

    Wednesday’s UNOH 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway has been postponed due to heavy rain and lightning. The race has been rescheduled to 10 am ET on Thursday morning, weather permitting.

  18. Start of Trucks race at Bristol under rain delay

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT

    Bristol motor speedway logo

    Heavy rain showers coupled with occasional lightning are delaying Wednesday’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

  19. NASCAR America video: Jimmie Johnson needs to turn things around

    Aug 20, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Camping World RV Sales 301 - Practice Getty Images

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, we looked at the struggles Jimmie Johnson and his team have had over much of the last six weeks.

  20. NASCAR America video: Jeff Burton to replace Tony Stewart at Bristol

    Aug 20, 2014, 7:24 PM EDT

    Burton Michigan 2 2014 AP

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, in the continuing absence of Tony Stewart this weekend at Bristol, it was announced that Jeff Burton will drive in his place for the second week in a row.

Video from NASCAR America

Jimmie Johnson must pick up the pace
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1557)
  2. K. Harvick (1257)
  3. K. Busch (1093)
  4. I. Vences (1084)
  5. T. Stewart (1035)