Hornish holds off Busch for Nationwide victory

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm •  Published: March 9, 2013
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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Sam Hornish Jr. didn't know the name of Saturday's race until he went to the drivers' meeting for the Sam's Town 300.

"That's a pretty good one for me to win," he thought to himself. "Already got my name on the trophy."

Hornish survived two restarts in the final 15 laps and held off Kyle Busch to win the Nationwide Series race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Hornish led 114 laps in his second career Nationwide victory, but needed a strong finish to outrun Busch, the hometown driver who won the Nationwide race last week in Phoenix.

Hornish credited the win to his dominant car, all the more impressive since the drivers got almost no practice on the 1.5-mile tri-oval due to Friday's rain.

"You dream about having cars like this," Hornish said. "I think I used more energy celebrating than I did actually driving the car today."

Hornish and Busch both went aggressively after the final restart with seven laps to go, with Busch briefly nudging ahead before Hornish reclaimed the lead with five laps left. Hornish got clear of Busch and finished comfortably in a caution-filled race.

With his third top-10 finish in three races this season, Hornish moved atop the points race and gave owner Roger Penske his first victory at Las Vegas in any NASCAR series — and Penske's first win since moving from Dodge to Ford in the offseason.

Hornish also snapped a 36-race winless streak in his Ford in his 69th Nationwide race overall.

Hornish hadn't won since November 2011 at Phoenix. His crew chief, Greg Erwin, won his first Nationwide race.

Busch dominated last week's race, but his Toyota couldn't catch up to Hornish despite plenty of cagey racing. Hornish had nearly a three-second lead over Busch before the first of the final two cautions.

"Sam was just that much faster than us," said Busch, who finished in the top 10 for just the second time in 10 races in Las Vegas. "He was beating us a little bit everywhere, all the way around the race track. Certainly, when he stepped on the gas, that thing would go forward in a hurry. Us two were the class of the field, but he was the class of everybody."

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