Hornish on pole for NNS at Homestead; Dillon starting 11th


Down eight points to Austin Dillon in the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, Sam Hornish Jr. will have at least the early edge in today’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway after winning the pole for the Ford Ecoboost 300.

Hornish, a three-time IndyCar Series champion that’s gunning for his first stock car title this afternoon, was one of the last drivers to qualify but was able to out-hustle Blake Koch for the top spot on the grid with a lap at 165.843 mph in the No. 12 Penske Racing Ford.

The former Indy 500 winner was particularly enthused about being able to claim the No. 1 stall coming out of pit road, which could prove big for him in terms of track position throughout today’s race.

“We don’t have to worry about somebody blocking us in,” Hornish told Fox Sports. “Usually, being able to be the pole sitter means you get that great stall and you just can get that launch out [of pit road] and gain yourself a couple of positions if you need it – or hopefully, as our case will be tonight, keep our lead under pit stops.”

Meanwhile, Dillon will have to make up a bit of ground after qualifying 11th, squeezing a lap at 163.825 mph out of his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Dillon can clinch the title with a finish of third or better (or fourth with one lap led, or fifth with the most laps led).

Hornish will have some backup toward the front of the grid, as Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano will start third and fourth in today’s NNS event.

But Logano also has his own championship priority today, as he’ll be driving the No. 22 Penske Ford that’s battling the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch for the NNS owner’s title. The No. 22 holds a slim, four-point edge on the No. 54, and the No. 22 can only guarantee a clinch of that title with a victory today.

Busch will start on the outside of Row 3 alongside JGR teammate and Sprint Cup title contender Matt Kenseth. Young guns Brad Sweet and Kyle Larson make up Row 4, while Trevor Bayne and Dillon’s RCR teammate, Brian Scott, go off from Row 5.

The Ford Ecoboost 300 is set to take the green flag around 4:30 p.m. ET.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”