Hornish Jr., Dillon take Nationwide title fight to Kentucky

While the Sprint Cup Series competes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the Nationwide Series is running its last stand- alone race of the season this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Sam Hornish Jr. holds a 17-point lead over Austin Dillon with seven races to go. Regan Smith is 36 points behind Hornish, while Elliott Sadler trails by 44. After Kentucky, the series heads to Dover, Kansas, Charlotte, Texas and Phoenix before the season wraps up at Homestead.

Five of the last seven races will be contested on 1.5-mile racetracks, including Kentucky. Hornish won at Las Vegas in March and finished ninth at Kentucky in June. He's also placed third in the two most recent mile-and-a- half tracks (Atlanta and Chicagoland).

"We have been strong on the intermediate tracks this year," Hornish said. "We still have a little room for improvement in terms of getting the car where we need it to be at the end of the race, so we can go after the win. We have to be smart and yet still have the tempered aggression that it takes to win. The points battle is so close that we have to be mindful of whom we are racing. We've come a long way, but a lot can happen over the next seven races."

Dillon has been superb at Kentucky. He has an average finish of 2.667 in his three Nationwide races here. He won both events last year before finishing sixth earlier this season at this track. Dillon has started on the pole in each of the last three races at Kentucky.

"This battle has been really tight this year, and it's really anyone's championship to win," Dillon said. "I've really enjoyed battling with Sam Hornish, Jr all year, along with the other competitors. I've had some success at Kentucky Speedway in the past, so I hope I can capitalize this weekend and gain some points. Everyone has been so close all year, though, that it's going to take someone making a mistake in order for one of us to gain any points."

There are no Sprint Cup Series regulars scheduled to compete in this race. Five full-time Camping World Truck Series drivers are among the 42 on the entry list -- Dakoda Armstrong, Ryan Blaney, Jeb Burton, Joey Coulter and Matt Crafton.

Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, Sept. 21. Race: Kentucky 300. Site: Kentucky Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 200. Miles: 300. 2012 Winner: Austin Dillon. Television: ESPNEWS. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.