Dillon, Hornish Jr. resume Nationwide title fight in Texas
Fort Worth, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - After having the past two weekends off, the Nationwide Series is set to run its final three races of the season, beginning with Saturday's 300-mile event at Texas Motor Speedway.
The series competed 21 consecutive weeks, with its most recent race on Oct. 11 at Charlotte. Points leader Austin Dillon finished second there and remained eight points ahead of Sam Hornish Jr., who placed third after leading the most laps.
Dillon has been impressive in his first three Nationwide races at Texas, finishing no worse than sixth. The Richard Childress Racing driver had a third-place run here in April. He's also competed in four Camping World Truck Series events at this track, finishing second in the fall 2011 race.
"I really enjoy Texas, and it's one of my favorite tracks," Dillon said. "I've had some success and led a lot of laps there in the Truck Series. I finished third in Nationwide there earlier this year. I've had some good cars there."
Hornish has just two top-10 finishes in seven Nationwide races at Texas -- a pair of seventh-place runs. He has competed in seven Sprint Cup Series races as well as 13 IndyCar Series events at this track. The Penske Racing driver led 29 laps but finished 34th in the spring Nationwide race here. He was involved in an accident with Jeremy Clements in the late going.
"For us, Texas is the perfect place to have a great finish and make up a few points towards the Nationwide Series title," Hornish said.
Dillon, 23, is attempting to become the third youngest champion in NASCAR's second-tier series, behind Brian Vickers (20) and Rob Moroso (21). He's also trying to become the third driver to win a title in both Nationwide and trucks. Greg Biffle and Johnny Benson are those drivers who have accomplished that feat. Dillon, though, has yet to make it into victory lane in a Nationwide race this season.
"I'm trying to win a race," he said. "I haven't won a race this year and feel like we need to."
After Texas, Nationwide heads to Phoenix and then concludes its season at Homestead. Hornish's first win in the series came at Phoenix two years ago. His second victory occurred in March at Las Vegas, which is a 1.5-mile racetrack similar to Texas.
"When I race against Austin, we give each other room, and we race each other hard," Hornish said. "I feel like getting to the end of the year, we're going to run hard for the championship. We're going to race each other with respect and have a good time doing it. We're going to see how the points stack up at the end of it."
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are those Sprint Cup regulars scheduled to compete in this race.
Busch has the most Nationwide wins at Texas with six, including a victory here in the spring. Hamlin is substituting for Brian Vickers in Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 20 car. Vickers is out for the rest of this season while taking blood- thinning medication to treat a blood clot. Stenhouse, the 2011 and '12 Nationwide champion, is expected to make his first start in the series this season.
Forty teams are on the entry list for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.
Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, Nov. 2 Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. Site: Texas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 3:30 p.m. ET. Laps: 200. Miles: 300. 2012 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: ESPN2. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
11/01 11:18:00 ET