Hornish bests Kyle Busch to win NNS at Vegas

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NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Sam Hornish Jr. survived two late restarts and pulled away from Kyle Busch to claim today’s Sam’s Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – his first NNS victory since November of 2011.

Hornish had a solid gap on Busch before a Turn 2 spin for Scott Lagasse Jr. brought out the caution flag with 18 laps remaining. The subsequent restart with 13 laps left was short-lived, as Kyle Larson and Joey Gase wrecked coming out of Turn 2 to put the race under yellow again.

With six laps left, the green flag flew once more and after a brief battle, Hornish got by Busch on the outside for what would be the winning pass. The 2006 Indianapolis 500 champion led 114 laps en route to his second career Nationwide win.

“I just enjoyed having a car that was this good,” Hornish said to ESPN in Victory Lane. “The way the car was handling was just perfect, and I could take my time.

“Dreams are made of how cars [run like that]. Kyle put up a heck of a fight and raced me clean, so it was a real fun race.”

NASCAR Nationwide Series – Sam’s Town 300

Top 10 Finishers

1. Sam Hornish Jr., led 114 laps.

2. Kyle Busch, led 13 laps.

3. Brian Vickers, led 27 laps.

4. Trevor Bayne, led 21 laps.

5. Elliott Sadler

6. Austin Dillon, led one lap.

7. Regan Smith, led four laps.

8. Alex Bowman

9. Brian Scott

10. Travis Pastrana

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”