In a race that saw a number of wrecks in the final stage, Sam Hornish avoided all the mayhem and was not to be denied, capturing Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Challenge NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Driving the No. 22 Ford Fusion for Team Penske, Hornish dominated, leading four times for 61 laps — including the final 14 — in the 75-lap event to earn his first career win at Mid-Ohio, which he considers his home track.
It was Hornish’s fifth career Xfinity Series win and his first on a road course. He has three previous runner-up finishes on road courses, including his second-place showing last year at Mid-Ohio.
Hornish won from the pole and had a car that was the class of the field. He was especially strong on restarts and took more of a defensive approach late in the race when there were several multi-car wrecks.
Two wrecks in the final stage stood out: a five-car crash involving Blake Koch, Ryan Reed, Spencer Gallagher and Jeremy Clements, and then a incident that involved 10 cars on Lap 69 that brought out the second red flag of the race.
STAGE WINNERS: Blake Koch (Stage 1), Hornish (Stage 2)
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Hornish was the star of the day, but the rest of the top-five all earned Xfinity career-best finishes: Hemric (2nd), Tifft (3rd), Australian driver Davison (4th in his second career Xfinity event) and sports car racing veteran Andy Lally (5th).
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Matt Bell had a specatular crash on Lap 16, slamming into the Turn 1 tire barrier and then landing on top of it, resulting in a 13 1/2 minute red flag period to make repairs to the barrier and adjacent fence.
NOTABLE: Cole Custer wrecked his primary car in qualifying and had to go to a backup car. He had to be towed to the garage after just one lap to fix a fluid leak, but was able to return, running 54 laps and finishing 35th.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “With the luck we had in our first two races of the year (finished 37th and 34th, both at Iowa), I was wondering how today was going to turn out, but we had an almost flawless day.” – Race winner Sam Hornish Jr.
WHAT’S NEXT: Food City 300; Friday, August 18; 7:30 p.m. ET; Bristol Motor Speedway (on NBCSN).