Sam Hornish Jr.’s experience at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course finally paid off.
Hornish Jr. dominated in his home state to win the Xfinity Mid-Ohio Challenge on Saturday.
“I think I've been second or third here a few times in other series but could never win here,” he said. “To finally punch that ticket means a lot to me.”
Hornish, from Defiance, Ohio, took the lead from rookie Daniel Hemric on lap 62 of 75 after the seventh caution. He beat Hemric by 1.335 seconds for his fifth victory in 117 XFinity races.
Hemric acknowledged that Hornish had a home-course advantage, especially when it came to handling the 13 turns over the 2.258-mile track.
“Sam's been around here a lot,” he said. “I'm proud of how we bounced back and had a chance to win at the end.”
Hornish, who was second in the race last year, led for 61 laps and avoided a 10-car pileup on lap 69 that resulted in the second red flag. There were also nine cautions.
Rookie Matt Tifft, a Hinckley, Ohio, native was third, 2.373 seconds back of Hornish. James Davison and Andy Lally completed the top five.
“We played defense a little bit,” Tifft said. “We kind of let the guys sort themselves out.”
Blake Koch of Kaulig Racing from Akron, Ohio, won the first stage ahead of Brennan Poole. Hornish, who won the pole, easily took the second 20-lap stage by 4.645 seconds over Hemric.
After Hornish lost the lead on a pit stop, he regained it on lap 46 when he went side-by-side with Hemric through turns 5 through 9 before taking the inside position and pulling away.
“It was our race to lose today,” Hornish said. “I had a good battle with Daniel.”
Elliott Sadler, the series points leader, was sixth.
Wallace wins Truck Series race
Darrell Wallace Jr. made the most of his first NASCAR Truck Series race in three years, holding off a late challenge from Christopher Bell to win Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
Wallace took the lead in his No. 99 Chevrolet with about 10 laps remaining in the 100-lap, 200-mile race. He had to contend with Austin Cindric and Bell toward the end, but Wallace was able to edge Bell by 0.18 seconds.
Kyle Busch finished third after winning the first two stages.
Wallace hadn't driven in a Truck race since 2014, when he won four times. He drove full time on the Xfinity Series in 2015 and 2016.