Las Vegas is certainly a gambling town but you didn’t find a betting line with Sam Hornish Jr. in the top five for Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS). However, upon further inspection, what better name to choose as a winner of the Sam’s Town 300; after all, Sam made Las Vegas his town for a day with an impressive victory that placed Hornish all alone in first place in the Nationwide standings.
Days leading up to the race were surprisingly cloudy, cool and rainy in the southern Nevada desert that doesn’t see a lot of the wet stuff normally. There may not have been any sun but ‘Sudden Sam’ clearly provided all the brilliance along with an excellent Penske Racing prepared #12 Ford Mustang. Even late cautions near the end of the race couldn’t stop Hornish from supplying a domination of the field (led 114 of 200 laps) that left no question as to who was the fastest driver on the blazingly fast LVMS track.
Hornish’s teammate and reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski appeared to be one of the cars to beat early on but problems with his front splitter ended any chance of winning. Runner-up Kyle Busch worked his way up from starting mid-pack and was among the front-runners most of the day. Brian Vickers started on the pole, was a serious contender the entire race and finished third, hardly ever falling out of the top five. Fourth place Trevor Bayne was another contender early on but got entangled with young Kyle Larson then fell behind but fought back to get a solid finish. Larson received the brunt of the collision and ended up with a fiery wreck but went unscathed. It was the second time this year that Larson had a serious wreck after losing half his car to the catch fence at Daytona two weeks ago. Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five.
But the most solid driver on this day was Sam Hornish Jr. who sits on top of the standings and right now, appears an early favorite for title contention this year in the Nationwide series. In fact, in three races to date this season, Hornish has finished second, seventh and now first. He leads Sadler, Justin Allgaier and Brian Scott by 19 points heading into Bristol next week.
Sam Hornish doesn’t always show a lot of emotion but was certainly pumped up after a dominating win. Said Hornish afterwards, “You dream about having cars like this. I think I used more energy celebrating than I did actually driving the car today.”
Destiny was on Sam’s side with this race as he stated after noticing the name of the event. “That's a pretty good one for me to win,” he thought to himself. “Already got my name on the trophy.” And atop the standings.