Sam Hornish Jr. hasn’t necessarily performed terribly in four NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at Dover International Speedway, the site of Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 200 Benefiting Living Beyond Breast Cancer. The issue is he hasn’t shined at the one-mile concrete oval either.
In four starts, he’s finished in the top 10 once – this past June when he placed seventh. Last season he scored 13th- and 18th-place finishes. His first series race at the track came in May 2008, resulting in a 23rd-place showing. He’s never led a lap in Dover, and although he’s been running at the end of all four races, he’s only finished on the lead lap once – earlier this summer. His average finishing position is 15.3.
While that shouldn’t be much cause for concern, his closest competitor in the points standings, Austin Dillon, has a better track record in Dover and is slowly cutting into Hornish’s lead. After the Kentucky 300 at Kentucky Speedway, Dillon was able to shave three points off of Hornish’s lead, which now stands at 15. Dillon finished second in the race to Ryan Blaney, while Hornish finished a strong fourth.
In three starts at Dover, Dillon has never finished outside the top 10. In the June race this year, he led 43 laps including the first 35 circuits after starting on the pole. He finished the race eighth. In the two races last season, Dillon placed sixth and 10th. His average finishing position is 8.0.
After 27 races in 2013, Hornish has put together an impressive stat line: one win, 13 top fives, 21 top 10s and three poles. Although Dillon is winless this year, his credentials are also noteworthy: 10 top fives, 17 top 10s and six poles, including a series-record four consecutive.
The only driver in the top five that has a NASCAR Nationwide victory at Dover is Brian Vickers, who is fifth in the standings (-60). The victory was one of three that came in 2003 on his way to the championship. Regan Smith (third place, -45) and Elliott Sadler (fourth place, -54) round out the top five.