|Photo Credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirts and Scuffs|
It was a windy afternoon when Austin Dillon led the field to green at Kentucky Speedway, but it didn’t take long for then-points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to overtake the top spot. Stenhouse held onto the lead until the competition caution came out on Lap 30. After being serviced on pit road, Stenhouse received damage as he exited his pit stall and Eric McClure entered his. The No. 6 team was able to make repairs, but that incident started a downward spiral for Stenhouse Jr.. On Lap 50, Stenhouse made contact with the wall, forcing even more extensive repairs and miring the No. 6 three laps down for the remainder of the event.
The beneficiary of Stenhouse’s misfortune was Elliott Sadler. Sadler entered the race second in points and appeared to have one of the strongest cars in the field. The No. 2 led 93 laps en route to a fifth-place finish. Although Sadler experienced woes of his own, losing power steering in the closing laps, he exits Kentucky with a four-point advantage over Stenhouse.
Sam Hornish Jr. finished strong, earning his first top five at a 1.5 mile track this season. In his six prior mile-and-a-halfers this season, Hornish finished top 10. The team worked to improve the car throughout the course of the day, but in the end he had nothing for race winner Austin Dillon. Hornish finished second and is now fourth in the points.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Drew Herring rebounded from an early incident to finish fourth, earning his best career finish in only a handful of races. Barely making it to the track from Loudon, Kurt Busch started the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota from the back after the car was qualified by Matt Crafton. Busch was an early favorite based on how quickly he navigated traffic, but a seized-up rear end gear ended his day early.
Johanna Long, who tested with Austin Dillon earlier in the week, finished 12th while Danica Patrick and new crew chief Ryan Pemberton pitted just as a caution came out and went down a lap early, eventually finishing 14th.
At the end of the day it was Austin Dillon in victory lane completing the Kentucky sweep for 2012. Dillon told reporters that his team is “built up of hard workers who are striving to win championships.”
The final results:
- Hornish Jr.
- Stenhouse Jr.
- M. Wallace
- Lagasse Jr.
- Ku. Busch