Sam Hornish Jr. Dominates the American Ethanol E15 250by Kyle Pokrefky June 19, 2016 0 comments
NEWTON, Ia. — Sam Hornish Jr. capitalized on a one-off start for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Sunday, going to victory lane at Iowa Speedway in the American Ethanol E15 250.
Piloting the No. 18 Toyota Toyota in a last-second replacement start for the injured Matt Tifft, Hornish Jr. took his fourth career series victory and his second at Iowa in dominant fashion – leading 183 of the race’s 250 laps.
Sunday’s Father’s Day victory proved to be extra special for the father of three as it was the first time he was able to fully celebrate being in victory lane with each of his children.
“Hats off to everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing for such great equipment,” Hornish Jr. said. “Chris [Gayle, crew chief] put such a great setup underneath the car. I feel Iowa’s always been a special place for me with the fact that this is the first opportunity to bring the kids to get them to victory lane, which is something that’s prolonged my racing career in some ways.
“I’ve always wanted the opportunity to have them to experience that, so now we’ve got that. Last year was frustrating in a lot of ways and I took the beginning of this season and enjoyed it with the wife and kids. I knew something good would happen.”
Breaking up a potential Joe Gibbs Racing one-two finish were Ty Dillon and Brad Keselowski, who finished in the respective second and third positions.
It was Hornish Jr’s teammate, Daniel Suarez, that proved to be the former Verizon IndyCar Series champion’s toughest competition of the day.
Suarez, last week’s winner at Michigan International Speedway, spent 62 laps of the race in the lead during the first half of the race but felt his setup start to slip as the race progressed.
“The car was really fast today in the first half of the race on the short run,” Suarez said. “On the longer run, we were missing a little bit. We just felt like we needed to work on it for the long run and for the second half of the race we ended up killing the short run and we still didn’t have the long run. It’ll happen. We gambled there a little bit and we lost, so that’s part of it.”
The driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota will remain the points leader heading into a one-week break for the series. Suarez’s lead exiting Iowa stands at 21 points over JR Motorsports’s Elliott Sadler.
Completing the top-10 of the finishing order behind the top-four drivers were Alex Bowman, Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Brennan Poole, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ben Kennedy.
Other notable finishers were Ryan Reed in 11th, Brandon Jones in 12th, Brendan Gaughan in 15th and Erik Jones in 27th.
Erik Jones, the pole-sitter for Sunday’s race, encountered fuel pressure issues shortly before the first caution of the day on Lap 40. Jones’s No. 20 Freightliner Toyota spent several laps behind the wall prior to the midpoint of the race to swap out a fuel cell in the car.
Sunday’s 250-lap race featured six cautions for a total of 33 laps and 10 lead changes amongst four leaders.
The first caution of the day was for a competition caution on Lap 42 that was to check the racing surface in Turns 1 and 2 after considerable amounts of liquid were put down there in the Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday night.
The second caution was for Ryan Preece meeting with the wall on Lap 98 while the third caution was for a Derrike Cope tire failure in Turn 3 on Lap 124.
A Blake Koch solo spin brought out the caution on Lap 135 while a J.J. Yeley spin on the frontstretch occurred on Lap 199. Shortly after that, Drew Herring received a nudge from JGL Racing teammate Dakoda Armstrong to go for a spin off of Turn 4 on Lap 219 for the final caution of the day.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series will next be in action in two weeks at Daytona International Speedway for July 1st’s Subway Firecracker 250.
Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images