Nationwide Series championship contenders, Sam Hornish and Austin Dillon are locked in the closest points battle among NASCAR’s three national series that are closing out their season’s this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
A mere eight points separate the two drivers with Dillon on top. Round one, however, for the weekend goes to Hornish. In first practice on Friday, Hornish was fourth fastest, laying down a lap of 167.848 MPH. Dillon only managed a lap of 166.590 MPH, which placed him 14th on the final sheet.
There was, however, a small bit of drama during the session. Hornish brushed the wall slightly in his No. 12 Penske Racing Ford Mustang. On Thursday, Hornish talked about the pressure he is under trying to win his first NASCAR championship, “It’s not the way we would have liked to come into the race. We feel like we’ve had a good year at Penske Racing. We’ve been strong a lot of races this year. Capitalizing on the days we were strong is one of the things we need to continue to work on. At the end of the day we feel real proud to be in the position that we are and to have the opportunity to win the championship. There’s a lot of things that need to happen. We’d like to go out there and lead the most laps, win the race, do all that good stuff. If Austin finishes third, that’s all for not. We’ll try to be smart, figuring out the best way to do this. One of the things that gives me confidence going into this weekend is our performance on the mile-and-a-half’s this weekend and the fact we got to come here and test. It’s a big gamble to look at Miami and say that we need to be the best that we can possibly be when we get there, but we had a feeling that we were going to need to be strong here. Saving that test day for here hopefully will be a real good thing for us.”
Dillon who has won a Camping World Truck Series championship is confident heading to the final weekend of the year, “God blessed us with a good season. We were consistent. That paid off for us at the end of the year. Love coming to the mile-and-a-half’s. We were strong there all year long. Homestead was a place where we led a lot of laps last year. I’m glad this is the last race of the year. Feel like we need to approach it with a win. We don’t have any wins this year. To finish off the year with a win in the championship would be great.”
The Nationwide Series championship is providing us with the perfect ending to a fantastic season. Two drivers in a tight battle, one with a racing resume’ that demands respect, the other – a young gun driver who is already writing his own impressive resume’. Additionally, we have a classic Chevy vs. Ford battle and a manufacturer’s championship that currently has the two only two points apart.
What more could we ask for?