Las Vegas, NV – Sam Hornish Jr. hit the jackpot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hornish not only claimed his second career win in the Nationwide Series but took a 19-point lead in the point standings as well. He entered Saturday's 300-mile race at Las Vegas tied with Justin Allgaier in points.
The Penske Racing driver grabbed the lead from Kyle Busch with 48 laps remaining and then held off Busch after two restarts within the final 15 laps at this 1.5-mile racetrack.
"The guys at Penske Racing gave me an awesome race car," said Hornish, who led 114 of 200 laps. "The car was really good on restarts."
Hornish scored his first win in NASCAR's second-tier series in November 2011 at Phoenix (36 races ago). He is a three-time IndyCar Series champion. He also won the Indianapolis 500 in 2006.
Busch, a Las Vegas native, finished 1.1 seconds behind Hornish. It's the second time he has finished in the runner-up position at his home track, with his first coming in 2007. Busch holds the Nationwide record with 52 career wins, including a victory in last week's race at Phoenix, but he has to win a race here in 10 attempts.
"It stinks, man," Busch said. "We fought real hard all day. The car was good to drive, but it just wasn't fast enough. It felt like at the end there we were getting beat everywhere, just all the way around the racetrack."
After the final restart with seven laps to go, Busch ran side-by-side with Hornish before he beat Hornish to the start/finish line to lead that lap. But Hornish came charging back and took the top spot from Busch on the following lap.
"Kyle put up a heck of a fight and raced me clean, so it was a real fun race," Hornish said.
Busch started the race in 23rd since qualifying was called off due to Friday's inclement weather in the Las Vegas area. The final owner points from last year determined the starting lineup.
Brian Vickers, the pole sitter, finished third, while Trevor Bayne bounced back from an early-race accident with rookie Kyle Larson to place fourth. Bayne and Larson were running first and second, respectively, on lap 88 when the two made contact and spun into the wall.
"It's unfortunate that we had to battle back, but even with damage, it was still a fourth-place race car," Bayne said.
Larson was involved in another multi-car crash in the closing laps, which ended his day with a 32nd-place finish.
Elliott Sadler took the fifth spot, followed by Austin Dillon, Regan Smith and rookie Alex Bowman. Brian Scott and Travis Pastrana completed the top-10.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. placed 14th in his second Nationwide start this season.
Allgaier finished one lap behind in 15th, which put him 19 points behind Hornish. Sadler and Scott also trail Hornish by the same points margin.