Close competition is a must in NASCAR and this season bodes one of the closest points races in recent years. Only two points separate NASCAR Nationwide Series standings leader Sam Hornish Jr. and second-place Regan Smith, and the remaining top five are all within nine points of the standings lead after the first six races of the season.
In comparison to the past two seasons, the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series season is ripe for anyone’s taking. After six races last season, only two drivers in the standings were within 50 points of the leader. In 2011, there were just seven drivers within 50 points of the lead. In 2013, after six races, the entire top 10 in the standings are within 40 points of the leader, and all of the top 15 are still within 100 points.
This season’s championship standout is the series standings leader Hornish, driving for Penske Racing. He is the only series championship contender this season to win a race (Las Vegas), and he leads the series in season-to-date Driver Rating (108.0) and all series contenders in top fives (four) to boot. His season-to-date average finish is 8.3.
Hornish has not been flawless. His points lead dwindled this past weekend with a 34th-place finish in Texas, opening the door for JR Motorsports’ Smith in second, and Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon in third – each making significant gains in points. Hornish also has Turner Scott Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and RCR’s Brian Scott just nine points back and closing.
Bonus points are crucial to the success of championship racing; through six races Hornish has accumulated the most in the series with seven.
The close competition continues when the NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to action at Richmond International Raceway on April 26 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN News.