Austin Dillon now holds the lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway following the second wave of pit stops, which took place under green conditions just after the halfway point. Elliott Sadler had been leading until a slow second stop for fuel cost him the lead when the cycle played out.
Pole sitter Sam Hornish Jr. led the first 49 laps of the race, but was penalized for speeding on pit road during his first stop of the afternoon. He was pushed back to 20th on the subsequent restart at Lap 53, but charged back into the Top 5 before he returned to the pits for service.
He has retained fifth position behind Dillon, Sadler, Brian Vickers in third and Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano in fourth.
Hornish is looking to leapfrog Regan Smith in the championship standings this afternoon at the 1.5-mile oval in Joliet, Illinois. Smith, who started 13th this afternoon, is up to 10th on the track.
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”