It was a back and forth battle between Sam Hornish, Jr. and Ryan Blaney for the top spot for the entire Get to Know Newton 250 in the Nationwide Series race Sunday afternoon.
Blaney had the pole position for the race – his first in the Nationwide Series for Team Penske with whom he runs a part-time schedule. He and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Sam Hornish, Jr. traded the lead several times during the race with Hornish leading a good portion of the race and Blaney contributing his share.
Hornish, Jr. was quick to get the lead on the first lap, but lapped traffic created a battle with Blaney by lap 19. Blaney couldn’t quite make his charge stick to swipe the lead, but he would get by Hornish, Jr. on lap 91. The lead would change back to Hornish, Jr. on the restart after the third caution of the day on lap 143. Blaney would start closing the gap on lap 200 and the pair would go side-by-side for several laps for the lead by lap 206. Blaney prevailed two laps later.
A caution for debris on lap 214 would shake up the order after the last round of pit stops in the race. Michael McDowell’s team opted for a two-tire stop which put him to the point. That didn’t last long as Blaney roared to the front on the restart lap. Another caution for an accident involving Mike Bliss on lap 222 would set up the last restart on the day. Both Hornish, Jr. and Blaney had been good on restarts and Hornish, Jr. happened to make it count when needed the most. Hornish, Jr. quickly found clean air and that’s where he stayed and claimed the win.
In all, Hornish Jr. led 167 laps and Blaney led 80 laps.
After a whirlwind few days with race practice, a race and a high school graduation, Rookie Chase Elliott put forth a good effort in coming home in fourth. He had to fight for that finish as slow pit stops put him a little behind in the order. He battled back from tenth and ninth place on restarts to overcome those pit stops. He leads the points standings with Elliott Sadler and Regan Smith two points behind him.
Regan Smith had his work cut out for him for most of the race with several battles for position and even a meeting with the outside wall. There wasn’t much damage on the JR Motorsports No. 7 and he was able to prove he was a contender in the race after all with a top three finish.
The top ten: Sam Hornish, Jr., Ryan Blaney, Regan Smith, Chase Elliott, Elliott Sadler, Brian Scott, Michael McDowell, Ty Dillon, Trevor Bayne, and Landon Cassill.
The next NASCAR Nationwide Series race will be Saturday, May 24 at 2:45 p.m. ET for the History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Performance Racing Network (goprn.com) will have radio coverage and the race will be televised on ABC.