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.