Sam Hornish Jr. scored a dominating victory in Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to win his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series race in 69 starts.
Hornish was the class of the field all day, his No. 12 Penske Racing Ford Mustang outdueling the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers to win. Trevor Bayne’s Roush Fenway Racing Ford was fourth, followed by Sadler in a third JGR Toyota.
Vickers started from the pole in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and dominated the early action.
NASCAR waved a competition caution on Lap 37, sending the leaders down pit road. Trevor Bayne took just two tires on his stop and went into the lead. At Lap 50, the order was Bayne, Regan Smith, Vickers, Sam Hornish Jr. and Brad Keselowski.
Bayne surrendered the lead after a Lap 56 caution caused by contact between Mike Wallace and Joe Nemechek. Bayne pitted under yellow, but most of the other leaders didn’t, with Smith assuming the point.
On the ensuing restart, Hornish dove down to the bottom of the track and managed to muscle his way back into the lead.
When Robert Richardson spun on Lap 82, Bayne again used strategy on pit road, this time taking gas only and moving back into the lead. But on the restart, Bayne and second-place Kyle Larson wrecked at the exit of Turn 4 on Lap 87, costing them both any realistic shot at victory.
The mayhem put Vickers back in the lead over Austin Dillon and the surprising 19-year-old Alex Bowman, with Hornish nearby in fourth.
Hornish didn’t stay in fourth long, taking over the lead from Vickers on Lap 94. The track stayed green until Lap 139, when debris from Keselowski’s splitter brought out the yellow for the sixth time.
Under caution, Kyle Busch took the lead over Vickers, Dillon and Hornish. And once the green came out, JGR teammates Busch and Vickers began dicing furiously for the lead.
But it was Hornish who’d been fastest all day, and on Lap 153, he went under Busch and into the lead.
Hornish appeared headed to an easy victory when Scott Lagasse Jr. spun in Turn 1 to bring a caution on Lap 184. At the time, Hornish had a lead of 2.90 seconds over Busch, but the yellow wiped that margin out.
The top seven cars — Hornish, Busch, Vickers, Sadler, Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne and Ty Dillon — stayed out, while the seven lead-lap cars behind them pitted for fuel and tires.
On the restart on Lap 188, Joey Gase went up the hill in Turn 2 after contact with Ryan Sieg. Gase’s car went into Kyle Larson’s car, which wrecked hard.
The green flew again on Lap 194, with Hornish rebuffing a stern challenge from Busch to cruise to a 1.100 second victory.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.