Photo- Getty Images
“Sin City” belonged to Sam Hornish Jr. Saturday afternoon in the Nationwide Series race when Hornish Jr. dominated and held off Las Vegas native Kyle Busch on a late restart to take the win. Hornish Jr. proved he had a fast car all day and he was rewarded with his first trip to victory lane at Las Vegas. Hornish Jr. is off one heck of start to the 2013 season and this win emphasizes that Hornish Jr. is here to compete for the championship this season. Hornish Jr. was hot from the get-go and he got to the front quickly and he stayed there throughout most of the race.
After qualifying was rained out on Friday, the field was set by last year’s owner’s points and that meant Brian Vickers had the pole for the race. Receiving the pole assisted Vickers by allowing him to lead some laps early in the race. The first yellow flag of the day flew on lap 3 when Eric McClure had an engine issue. Hornish Jr.’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, was the first one to take the lead from Vickers and hold on to it for a period of time when he did so on lap 23. The competition caution came out on lap 36 and all of the leaders came down pit road. Championship-contender Trevor Bayne won the race off of pit road and he acquired the lead.
Lap 55 featured the third caution of the day when Mike Wallace got into Joe Nemechek and Nemechek got into the turn 2 wall and he then spun around on the backstretch. On the ensuing restart, Brian Vickers was out front and he couldn’t hold the lead for long since Sam Hornish Jr. went three-wide on the restart as the cars headed for turn one. Hornish Jr. was able to clear Vickers and he then went on to battle Regan Smith for the top spot. By lap 61, Hornish Jr. had sole possession of the lead for the first time of the afternoon.
When Robert Richardson Jr. brought out the fourth caution, Trevor Bayne’s crew played some pit strategy and Bayne was the new leader on the restart. Bayne was battling Kyle Larson for the lead as the cars were heading into turn 4 and when Bayne slid up the banking, he got into Larson and both of the drivers made contact with the wall. Bayne managed to escape with the least amount of damage but, Larson had heavy damage to the right side of his car. Both drivers were able to continue in the race.
Hornish Jr. was able to re-gain the lead with 47 laps to go and he held onto that lead for just about all of the remaining laps. The caution that shook everything up came out with 18 laps to go when Scott Lagasse Jr. spun in turn 2. Hornish Jr. led on the restart but, he faced a stiff battle from Kyle Busch on his inside. The battle lasted for just about half of a lap before the eighth and final caution of the day came out. When Ryan Sieg in the No.51 car got into Joey Gase, Gase went up the track and slammed into Kyle Larson and they both hit the backstretch wall with a hard impact. The incident occurred on the entry to the backstretch and both cars suffered a lot of damage. Despite the firm impact, both drivers were okay.
That incident set up an exciting restart with just about 7 laps remaining in the race. Hornish Jr. and Busch were lined up side-by-side on the restart and they battled that way for a few laps before Hornish Jr. was able to clear Busch and take off. Hornish Jr. cruised for the final few laps in route to his first win at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hornish Jr. had a tough 2012 and this win meant a lot to he and his team. They both bounced back real well for 2013 and under the new direction of Greg Erwin, they were able to succeed. Hornish Jr. is off to a torrid start to the season and this win just proves how well prepared Hornish Jr. is for 2013. Leading the points is not always the best thing when we’re just three races into the season but, it does show how dominant Hornish Jr. has been and how great he could continue to be throughout the season. This may be the first win for Hornish Jr. this season but, it certainly won’t be his last.