Dom­i­nant per­for­mance leads Sam Hor­nish Jr. to vic­tory

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By CHRIS KNIGHT

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

— Sam Hor­nish Jr., who hadn’t been in a car in 210 days, gave him­self the per­fect Fa­ther’s Day pre­sent on Sun­day – a dom­i­nant vic­tory in the sixth an­nual NASCAR XFIN­ITY Se­ries Amer­i­can Ethanol E15 250 pre­sented by Eno­gen at Iowa Speed­way.

Hor­nish, who last com­peted in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries race last Novem­ber at Home­stead-Mi­ami Speed­way, re­ceived a call Mon­day from Joe Gibbs Rac­ing to sub­sti­tute for in­jured driver Matt Tifft. He made the most of the op­por­tu­nity, picking up his

NEW­TON, IOWA

fourth ca­reer XFIN­ITY Se­ries win and sec­ond at Iowa. Over­all, it was JGR’s ninth tri­umph in 14 races this sea­son.

“I don’t know, it doesn’t get much bet­ter than that,” said an emo­tional Hor­nish in Vic­tory Lane. “Just gotta thank Toy­ota, every­one from Joe Gibbs Rac­ing for get­ting me out here and giv­ing me this op­por­tu­nity. Got my wife and kids here, it’s the first time the kids got to be here for one of dad’s wins.

“I can’t tell you what this means to me. I worked so hard to try to get a win when I had my kids here. Gotta thank God. He makes things hap­pen. I was so ner­vous on Fri­day get­ting into the car think­ing I’m go­ing to make a mis­take, and man, to go out there and win the way that we did. Just can’t say any­thing more about it.”

Ty Dil­lon at­tempted to make a charge on Hor­nish on a Lap 224 restart, but set­tled for sec­ond, fin­ish­ing ahead of Brad Ke­selowski.

“I don’t know, I guess we just needed to be a lit­tle bit bet­ter,” Dil­lon said. “The No. 18 (Hor­nish) was so dom­i­nant on the bot­tom (groove). I thought, ob­vi­ously, we were the best car on the top (groove).

“Just needed a lit­tle bit more speed. I’m proud of my guys. We were kind of a mid-pack car and did what we needed to do to put our­selves in po­si­tion – some­thing we talked about all week – and we did a great job.”

Hor­nish took the lead from last week’s XFIN­ITY Se­ries win­ner Daniel Suarez on Lap 24, set­ting the tone that the Joe Gibbs Rac­ing cars were go­ing to be hard to beat.

The two drivers swapped the lead on pit road on two oc­ca­sions be­fore sev­eral com­peti­tors elected to use vary­ing pit strate­gies fol­low­ing the event’s third cau­tion on Lap 126. Hor­nish restarted sixth, but only took 13 laps to get back to the race lead, passing Suarez on Lap 139 and never re­lin­quish­ing.

Cham­pi­onship con­tender Erik Jones, who scored his fifth pole of 2016, had to drop to the rear be­fore the race for an un­ap­proved body mod­i­fi­ca­tion. Jones, how­ever, was never a fac­tor as he bat­tled fuel pres­sure is­sues, fin­ish- ing 27th.

The NASCAR XFIN­ITY Se­ries takes a week off be­fore re­turn­ing to Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way on July 1 for the run­ning of the Sub­way Fire­cracker 250.

GETTY IM­AGES FOR NASCAR

Sam Hor­nish Jr. cel­e­brates in Vic­tory Lane af­ter win­ning the NASCAR XFIN­ITY Se­ries Amer­i­can Ethanol E15 250 pre­sented by Eno­gen at Iowa Speed­way on Sun­day in New­ton, Iowa.

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