It was quite a championship battle between Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish, Jr. in the NASCAR Nationwide Series 200-lap Ford Ecoboost 300 Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was also the closest title match in all of NASCAR’s top series.
Hornish, Jr., who drove the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Ford for Penske Racing, started on the pole and led the first part of the race and became the points leader and held that points lead for nearly the entire race. Dillon and Hornish switched places in the points after a late race caution (and rather lengthy caution) where Dillon would stay ahead of Hornish to claim the championship.
Dillon came into the race with a six point lead over Hornish.
Dillon had to fight for the championship win as he had a rough time dialing in the No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing and was running outside the top ten for a majority of the race. Dillon’s crew chief, Danny Stockman, and the crew did their best to tune it to Dillon’s liking and he was able to get into the top ten. He fell to 12th by the end of the race, but that’s all he would need in order to lift the Nationwide Series trophy.
Hornish was in the top ten all race long and finished in the eighth spot, just three championship points behind Dillon. Regan Smith rounded out the top three in the points standings.
Brad Keselowski was the race winner after starting 11th on the last restart of the race and charging to the top spot in two laps. Keselowski drove the No. 48 Discount Tire Ford as Penske Racing’s third entry in the race. This was his seventh win of the season in this series.
Ten cautions littered the race with the biggest wreck on lap 184, collecting Regan Smith, Jeremy Clements and Mike Wallace. Smith and Clements’ cars caught fire on the front stretch which created a 12-lap clean-up. This had NASCAR fans, drivers and other officials burning up Twitter wondering when the red flag would fly due to the time it took to clean-up the track after the accident. The race stayed under the yellow flag and the laps counted down until six laps remained in the contest.
There were 19 lead changes in the race. Kyle Larson led the most laps in the race and finished in the runner-up spot. Larson also captured the Sunoco 2013 Rookie of the Year title. Kyle Busch was third, followed by Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Joey Jogano, Parker Kligerman, Hornish, Cole Whitt, and Nelson Piquet Jr. in the top ten.
Penske Racing’s No. 22 Ford Mustang won the owner’s championship and Ford took home the manufacturer’s title.
That’s it for the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season. Teams will return to competition for the first points race of 2014 on Feb. 22 for the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway.