Dillon looking to increase points lead at Charlotte

Concord, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Austin Dillon is atop the Nationwide Series point standings with just four races to go.

Dillon's sixth-place finish coupled with a 17th-place run for Sam Hornish Jr. in last weekend's race at Kansas allowed Dillon to reclaim the points lead. He holds an eight-point advantage over Hornish, who had been on top of the standings for the past seven weeks.

"We're sitting here in a great position with four races to go," Dillon said. "I'm happy with the progress that we've made since the beginning of the year."

Dillon grabbed the points lead for the first time this season in July at Indianapolis. The Richard Childress Racing driver kept the top spot after the following races at Iowa and Watkins Glen but fell to fourth in the rankings when he finished 21st in the Aug. 17 inaugural event at Mid-Ohio.

The final four races for Nationwide begins Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After Charlotte, the series will take a two-week break before running at Texas (Nov. 2), Phoenix (Nov. 9) and Homestead (Nov. 16).

Dillon has yet to win a Nationwide race this year. In the 32-year history of NASCAR's second-tier series, no driver has won the championship without scoring at least one victory for the season. Larry Pearson (1986), David Green (1994) and Clint Bowyer (2008) had one win during their title seasons.

"We've been close to taking home a win multiple times this year," Dillon said. "At Michigan with all the Cup guys there, we led the most laps but had a flat left-rear tire. In both races at Iowa, I felt like we had the dominant car, leading so many laps, but coming down to the last caution, something happened and it didn't go our way.

"It's been tough. We feel like we should've had a few wins this year. There's still four left, and we've got some good tracks coming up. Hopefully, we can knock down a few."

Dillon has won seven poles this season, including a series-record four in a row during the spring (Charlotte, Dover, Iowa and Michigan). He started first in the most recent race at Kansas.

Hornish has finished 17th in the past two races. The Penske Racing driver held a 15-point lead over Dillon prior to Dover. Hornish has placed no better than ninth in his six Nationwide starts at Charlotte. He finished 12th here earlier this year.

"We've been either first or second (in points) for all but two races this season," Hornish said. "Looking at it, we have had fast cars and a solid team all year long. We are aware of what we need to do, and we know what we are capable of doing. This series is highly competitive right now. I think most of us have known that this championship would come down the wire. We are happy that we are in contention, and we will continue to do our best."

Hornish has one victory this season, which came in March at Las Vegas.

Forty-six drivers are on the entry list for the Dollar General 300. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano are those Sprint Cup Series regulars competing in this race. Busch claimed his record seventh Nationwide win at Charlotte in May.

Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Friday, Oct. 11. Race: Dollar General 300. Site: Charlotte Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 200. Miles: 300. 2012 Winner: Joey Logano. Television: ESPN2. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.