The usual composed Hornish got emotional in Victory Circle and again in the post-race media conference. “I’m super-excited.”
An estimated 40,000 fans watched the race, aired live on ESPN.
It was the thirty-second NNS start for Hornish, who came to NASCAR after a very successful career in open wheel racing. His first-ever NNS race was the November PIR race in 2006. And Hornish equates a couple other ‘firsts’ at PIR – his first IRL win, and his first Cup race.
Hornish was twenty-fifth in the standings, going into the race, as he’s running a partial NNS season due to lack of sponsorship. PIR was his twelfth of 33 races this season, but hopes to be back full-time next season. Team owner, ROGER PENSKE, was watching from atop the grand stands, with all the spotters. While Penske never spots, he always watches from on high.
Penske was thirty-third in the Owner Points for Hornish’s car, meaning Hornish had to make the field on time. He qualified fifth.
Penske thanked Hornish “for hanging in there.” Crew Chief CHARLES WALTER said “We beat the pants off them (the NNS regulars.)
Making it a 1-2 finish for Penske Racing, BRAD KESELOWSKI/No.22 Discount Tire Dodge was runner-up, with a Margin of Victory – 0.0553 seconds. The last time Team Penske finished 1-2 in NNS was March 2010 with JUSTIN ALLGAIER and Keselowski at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was Keselowski’s fifth top-ten finish at PIR, and his twentieth NNS top ten this season.
Third was CARL EDWARDS/No.60 World Financial Group Ford.
JOEY LOGANO/No.18 Game Stop/Call of Duty MW3 Toyota was fourth, followed by points leader RICKY STENHOUSE Jr/No.6 Ford Drive one. Ford. Stenhouse started eleventh, but led 73 laps before finishing fifth.
RYAN TRUEX/No.20 Martin Truex Jr Foundation Toyota was the top Rookie, finishing eighth. He’s running a partial season and is still in hopes of landing a ride for the season’s finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Stenhouse retains the points lead, with ELLIOT SADLER/No.2 OneMain Chevrolet forty-one points behind, a gap he can’t make up with just one race remaining.
Sadler and Pole Sitter ARIC ALMIROLA/No.88 Suave MEN/Fry’s Food Stores Chevrolet, fourth in the standings, were running well until they were involved in a late-race crash triggered by JASON LEFFLER/No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet. Almirola led 66 laps.
Sadler and Almirola were the crash victims, and Leffler took responsibility for the entire incident. Leffler took full responsibility for the accident. “I didn’t mean to do it, I feel badly for Sadler. It’s all my fault. It was the last thing I wanted to do to Elliot.”
The crash started after Sadler had gone low to pass Almirola and Leffler and get out of their way. However, Leffler then rear-ended Sadler which started a chain reaction which caught out Almirola, and MORGAN SHEPHERD/No.89 Victory in Jesus Racing Chevrolet Shepherd said this car was his car for Homestead next weekend.
Sadler was bitterly disappointed after being cleared by the infield medical center.
That crash brought out the Red Flag, which lasted eleven minutes and 27 seconds. The race was restarted under caution.
There were seven cautions for 44 laps, and thirteen cars DNF due to accidents. Five retired due to mechanical issues. No drivers were injured.
Fifteen of the 24 finishers were on the lead lap.
Technical inspection was completed by 6pm local time and there were no issues.
Driver Points: Stenhouse-1179; Sadler-1138; JUSTIN ALLGAIER/No31 Brandt Chevrolet-1074; Almirola-1059; REED SORENSON/No.82 Foametix/Bullet Liner Dodge; Leffler-996; KENNY WALLACE/No.09 TOYOTA Toyota; MICHAEL ANNETT/No.62 Oakley/Pilot Travel Centers/Flying J Toyota; BRIAN SCOTT/No.11 Shore Lodge Toyota; and STEVE WALLACE/No.66 5-Hour Energy Dodge.
Joe Gibbs Racing is the top team owner, for No.18, which has a rotating driver lineup of JGR drivers – KYLE BUSCH, DENNY HAMLIN and Logano.