NASCAR: Sam Hornish Jr. wins Nationwide pole at Mid-Ohio

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The locals that come out for today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will see one of their own on the pole position.

Defiance, Ohio native Sam Hornish Jr. bagged the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 pole this morning with a final-round qualifying lap of 84.787 seconds in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Fellow ex-IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani held the provisional pole early on in the final round with an 85.092-second lap that was eclipsed by Hornish.

With less than 2 minutes to go, Tagliani went out again in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford but on his final flyer lap, a wheel hop caused him to lose control and spin out going into Turn 4 – ensuring that Hornish would win the pole on home ground.

“I was pretty happy with the [lap],” Hornish told ESPN. “We only did one lap in the first session, trying to save our tires a little bit, and felt like we were pretty close. Then we almost ended up getting bumped out there at the end [of Round 1]. It’s an interesting qualifying format for sure. To be able to go out there and put in two solid laps in the Monster Energy car felt pretty good.

“Everybody that works on this car did a great job overnight getting the engine changed, making sure that everything was put back together properly. The car handled really good this morning, and hopefully, it will continue that way into the race.”

Hornish is making his seventh Nationwide start of the year in the No. 54 car, and he really wants to bring home a trophy from a track where he watched many races while growing up.

“I remember coming here as a kid, having the opportunity – this is one of the places where I’ve seen more races probably from outside the fence then I have from the race car,” he said. “So, I always think about the memories I have from actually being here as a fan more so than a driver.”

Hornish and Tagliani will start from the front row, while a pair of Richard Childress Racing drivers in Brian Scott and Ty Dillon will go off from Row 2. The third row features Chris Buescher and Justin Marks, followed by Road America winner Brendan Gaughan and Regan Smith.

Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott will start ninth on the inside of Row 5 alongside Kenny Habul. Today’s green flag for the 90-lap event is expected around 2:45 p.m. ET.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT MID-OHIO – Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200
Qualifying Results

1. 54-Sam Hornish Jr.
2. 22-Alex Tagliani
3. 2-Brian Scott
4. 3-Ty Dillon
5. 60-Chris Buescher
6. 31-Justin Marks
7. 62-Brendan Gaughan
8. 7-Regan Smith
9. 9-Chase Elliott
10. 20-Kenny Habul
11. 99-James Buescher
12. 42-Dylan Kwasniewski
13. 11-Elliott Sadler
14. 6-Trevor Bayne
15. 01-Ryan Ellis
16. 87-Stanton Barrett
17. 14-Jeff Green
18. 40-Matt Dibenedetto
19. 51-Jeremy Clements
20. 19-Mike Bliss
21. 43-Dakoda Armstrong
22. 44-Carlos Contreras
23. 39-Ryan Sieg
24. 28-J.J. Yeley
25. 93-Tomy Drissi
26. 23-Cody Ware
27. 4-Jeffrey Earnhardt
28. 16-Ryan Reed
29. 17-Tanner Berryhill
30. 86-Tim Cowen
31. 55-Timmy Hill
32. 52-Joey Gase
33. 46-Josh Reaume
34. 74-Bobby Reuse
35. 70-Derrike Cope
36. 10-Blake Koch
37. 15-Carl Long
38. 79-John Jackson
39. 74-Roger Reuse

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.