NNS: Hornish overcomes early spin, finishes 2nd at Michigan

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Sam Hornish Jr. found himself in an early hole during today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

On Lap 2, the former Indianapolis 500 winner spun out after trying to set up a passing attempt on Dale Earnhardt Jr., knocking him to the back of the field.

“It was way too early in the race,” Hornish recalled to ESPN. “I had a big run on the 88 [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] going down the straightaway and instead of dive-bombing him on Lap 1, I thought, ‘I’ll just go up there and try to get a run on him coming off of [Turn] 4.’

“As soon as my nose got in clear air, it pinned the nose and the car came around. I had to throttle it up to keep it from backing up the hill, and I got really lucky that no one hit me – and I started over.”

But there was still plenty of time to climb out of that hole, and Hornish did just that by surging all the way to second place behind Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 250 winner Paul Menard.

“We had a bunch of ups-and-downs today, and I felt like we had the car really good and that we were going to come to the front,” he said. “And then we had some short runs where the car just wouldn’t go…But the long runs is where were able to shine and be able to make up time.

“Maybe another 10-15 laps, and I would have maybe had something for Paul.”

Hornish quickly charged toward the front after his spin on Lap 2. Taking the subsequent restart in 35th, he pushed himself back into the Top 10 before the first round of pit stops.

In mid-race, Hornish slid to the 15th-20th range as a string of cautions broke out. But when it counted, he went forward again and was in the Top 5 for the final restart of the day with 37 laps to go.

Then with 15 laps left, Hornish followed Menard past Earnhardt to take third position. That appeared to be where he’d stay until leader Joey Logano suffered a flat tire with five laps to go, effectively giving Menard the win and Hornish the runner-up.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”