Hornish looks for turnaround to rough season starting at Michigan


Returning to the Sprint Cup Series this season was a dream come true for Sam Hornish Jr., especially because he would be driving for one of NASCAR’s most legendary names, Hall of Famer Richard Petty.

It would be his first full season back in NASCAR’s premier series since 2010, not counting the 20 races he ran in 2012 after A.J. Allmendinger was released from Team Penske after a failed drug test.

Unfortunately, Hornish’s desired dream season has morphed into more of a nightmare, with few bright spots for the former three-time IndyCar champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner.

In the first 14 Sprint Cup races, Hornish has one top 10, an average starting position of 26.4 and an average finish of 25.8.

He wrecked last weekend at Pocono with 40 laps to go and finished 41st, his first DNF and third finish of 40th or worse this season.

But ever the optimist, Hornish hopes for a big turnaround in this Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

It was at the 2-mile oval, the fastest track in NASCAR, that Hornish – a native of Defiance, Ohio, just more than an hour away – literally grew up at, first as a spectator and later as a race car driver.

“I love going to Michigan, it’s my home track,” Hornish said in a team release. “It’s a fun place, and some of my fondest memories are sitting in the grandstands watching races there with my family when I was growing up.

“Even when I was in the IndyCar Series, if we had an off-weekend, I would go there and watch the NASCAR race.

“I’ve finished second there in three or four different series so the next step is to win a race there.”

A return to MIS, especially in light of his showing in the last three races – 24th at Charlotte, 22nd at Dover and 41st at Pocono – might be just what Hornish needs.

“Michigan is a lot different than the two tracks that lead up to this race,” Hornish said. “Michigan is just so wide. Now, saying that, since they repaved the track it’s not as wide as what it used to be, but I think we’ll see more and more racing grooves this weekend.

“Kansas was repaved just before Michigan and last fall it finally started to widen out and it allowed us to be able to move around more on the track.”

Hornish’s best outings thus far: sixth at Talladega, 12th at Daytona, 16th at Kansas and 19th at Bristol.

One of his biggest weaknesses is qualifying, having started 20th or lower in 11 races.

He also has endured a crew chief change, with Kevin “Bono” Manion taking over for Drew Blickensderfer four races ago after Hornish’s season-best finish at Talladega.

But as he prepares for his eighth career Sprint Cup race at Michigan, Hornish is optimistic it will turn around.

“When you have a weekend like Pocono, you just want to get back out there and race,” he said.

“We’re all working hard and want to see better results. Any time you go to a track you like, it makes you anticipate the race weekend more.”

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NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told Frontstretch.com: “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.