Joe Gibbs Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. came home second in Saturday’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200 Nationwide Series race at Michigan International Speedway, beaten to the checkered flag by Richard Childress Racing driver Paul Menard. His JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Elliott Sadler finished fourth and 17th, respectively.
Hornish Jr., who started the race from the 13th position, led three laps in the No. 20 SunEnergy1 Toyota Camry. He overcame an early-race mishap, spinning in Turn 4 on Lap Two but missing the wall and other drivers.
“Lap two I went down in the corner and didn’t want to dive bomb down underneath the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and went to the outside and as soon as I got clean air on the nose it just pinned the nose of the car and the backend came around,” explained Hornish Jr. “I thought, ‘Well, that didn’t really start off the way that we wanted to.’ Everybody that works on this Sun Energy 1 Camry did a great job for us. We had good pit stops and went up and down throughout the day, but we had a good car. We just needed long runs and we got that streak there of three or four yellows and 10 laps if that in between them and that hurt us as far as track position.”
“Real proud to have the opportunity to come out here and run,” he continued. “I feel really blessed to come out here and get to race at my home track. I think this is now my third second-place finish at MIS in three different series. I haven’t figured out how to win here yet, but we didn’t give up and we kept working hard. Even when it looked like we were going to finish third there we got a bonus at the end.”
Busch, who started from the pole after a track-record run in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota, failed to lead a lap in the race.
“We just got too far behind there on track position there late for the final pit stop,” said Busch. “Then we ran too many caution laps and didn’t have any yellows thereafter to try to get the field bunched back up. We just fought hard and ran as hard as we could there to get ourselves back up towards somewhere closer to the front and that was all she had. I would get stuck back there about eight lengths back of anybody in front of you just getting tight or getting loose or whatever it might be – just not having the downforce that you would have if you were running by yourself. That was sort of a struggle, but another top-five for this Monster Energy Camry.”
Late-race problems left Sadler, who started 12th in the No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota, down a lap to the leaders in 17th place.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, while former JGR driver Brian Scott finished fifth.
The Nationwide Series gets back on track next weekend at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Keep up with the action at joegibbsracing.com.
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