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Nationwide: Hornish clinches first series win

Former IndyCar and Indy 500 champion Sam Hornish Jr. finally found his way to victory lane in a NASCAR race in the Nationwide Series Wypall 200 in Phoenix.
It seems a very long time ago that we saw Sam Hornish Jr. in unbeatable form in an IndyCar, on his way to two series championships and victory in the biggest motor race in the US, the Indianapolis 500. But at long last he was back in victory lane again on Saturday, and for the first time in a national-level NASCAR event.

"Every 10 years, I guess, I get to come to victory lane here for the first time in a different kind of car, so it's pretty special," he said. "I'm just so happy!"

It's taken Hornish 142 attempts to make it, but when it happened on Saturday on the one-mile oval Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. it evetually proved remarkably easy for Hornish, who led with ease for the entire last 60 laps of the 200-lap race. Most importantly, he kept himself clear of a number of accidents that beset the field on the newly repaved and reconfigured track that's been giving all the Cup and Nationwide Series drivers headaches trying to get on top of it throughout the weekend.

The wrecks started very early: eight cars were involved in an accident in turns 3 and 4 of the very first lap, with Danica Patrick spinning and Brian Scott, Ron Hornaday, Johnny Chapman, Reed Sorenson, Tim Andrews, Jeff Green and Matt Frahm all getting involved. Half of them were unable to continue, and the race also lost another four cars before lap 15 with a variety of issues including a problem with brakes for Scott Speed on lap 6.

Reed Sorenson was the next to exit the race on lap 34, when a tyre going down sent him into a hard smack against the wall at turn 2. That resulted in a major blaze under the hood of the car on the right front, and Sorenson made a swift exit from the #82.

Up to this point, polesitter Aric Almirola had been comfortably in the lead, but during the next green flag stint he was challenged by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who finally took over at the front on lap 67. He'd opened a comfortable lead over Almirola and third-placed Carl Edwards by the time the third caution came out on lap 83 for DJ Kennington slamming the wall, after a problem with his own front right tyre.

Stenhouse kept the lead at the restart and was still in front on lap 129 when a violent wreck involving Derrike Cope and Mike Bliss brought out the fourth yellow. Stenhouse won the battle off pit road ahead of Hornish, with Keselowski and Joey Logano now up in third and fourth positions while Elliott Sadler had made up eight positions into fifth with a two-tyre gamble in his bid to stay in touch with Stenhouse in the Nationwide title race.

Hornish was simply too good at the restart and powered around Stenhouse on the outside - an interesting indicator, given the Cup drivers' concerns about the reported lack of a second groove at the newly repaved raceway this weekend. Hornish would stay in the lead from then until the end of the race and the chequered flag, but it wasn't an end to the cautions.

First there was a fifth caution on lap 143, when contact from Steve Wallace's Toyota sent James Buescher's Chevrolet spinning into the frontstretch wall. Then on lap 161, Morgan Shepherd spun between turns 3 and 4 and collected Robert Richardson Jr.




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Morgan Shepherd races away as Danica Patrick spins in front of Brian Scott and Ricky Carmichael during the first caution in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Wypall 200 on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]
Elliott Sadler is towed back to the garage after the final caution of the day ended his run in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Wypall 200 on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Sam Hornish Jr. leads Brad Keselowski to a Penske Racing 1-2 finish on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 1, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, signs the Coors Light Pole Award backdrop after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 1, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 1, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 1, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his eighth Phoenix win with his crew Sunday, March 13, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. He won by a hundredth of a second, closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup History. This was Harvick`s 500th consecutive series start, a feat accomplished only by 14 others throughout the history of NASCAR.  (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to his eighth Phoenix win with Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS who finished in sixth place Sunday, March 13, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Harvick won by a hundredth of a second, closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup History. This was his 500th consecutive series start, a feat accomplished only by 14 others throughout the history of NASCAR. (Photo by Andrew Coppley for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, takes the chequered flag for his eighth Phoenix win Sunday, March 13, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. He won by a hundredth of a second, closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup History. This was Harvick`s 500th consecutive series start, a feat accomplished only by 14 others throughout the history of NASCAR. (Photo by Andrew Coppley for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, celebrates his eighth Phoenix win Sunday, March 13, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. He won by a hundredth of a second, closest finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup History. This was Harvick`s 500th consecutive series start, a feat accomplished only by 14 others throughout the history of NASCAR. (Photo by Gregg Ellman for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy / Haas Automation Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, beats Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, to the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 13, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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