A pair of part-timers, Sam Hornish Jr. (pictured) and Justin Marks, led today’s practice sessions for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Hornish, the former Indianapolis 500 champion that’s making his seventh NNS start of the year in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, led the way in first practice with a lap of 95.245 mph around the tough Mid-Ohio circuit. Regan Smith was second-quickest behind him at 94.609 mph in his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
Roush Fenway Racing rookie Chris Buescher was third-quickest, followed by fourth-place Alex Tagliani in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford that won this race last year with A.J. Allmendinger. Richard Childress Racing’s Brian Scott completed the Top 5.
But in Practice 2, Marks was able to put down a last-minute lap of 95.187 mph to knock Chris Buescher (95.182) from the top spot. Marks is making his second start of the season for Turner Scott Motorsports after finishing 24th earlier this year at Road America due to an ill-fated fuel gamble.
Hornish’s lap of 94.798 mph in this session was good enough for P3, while Smith fell in behind Hornish again in fourth. Road America winner Brendan Gaughan was fifth.
Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott was 11th in Practice 1, and then ninth in Practice 2. Elliott leads Smith by 12 points going into Saturday’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 (2:45 p.m. ET), which will be preceded by qualifying that morning (9:40 a.m. ET).