Super sub Sam Hornish Jr. wins XFINITY race at Iowa Speedway
Sam Hornish Jr. jumped at the chance to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in Sunday's American Ethanol E15 250.
And why not? Hornish hadn't raced in 210 days and was working as a substitute teacher in his native Ohio when the call came to sub for regular driver Matt Tifft, who had to miss the race because of a back injury.
All Hornish did on Father's Day was lead 183 laps of 250 laps in the No. 18 JGR Toyota to go to Victory Lane in the XFINITY race at Iowa Speedway.
Ty Dillon came in second, with Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman rounding out the top five.
Hornish got the call to sub for Tifft just last Monday, and admitted he was nervous when he climbed into the car for practice for the first time on Friday. But it didn't show on Sunday.
“I was so nervous on Friday, getting into the car and thinking I’m going to make a mistake,” an emotional Hornish told FOX Sports in Victory Lane as he was greetedby his wife and three children. “Man, to go out there and win they way we did, I just can’t say anything more about it.”
Hornish picked up his first win in two years, which also came at Iowa's 0.875-mile oval.
Hornish was briefly pushed by Dillon and Brad Keselowski on a restart with 27 laps to go. But Hornish, who mostly hugged the inside lane of the track all day, held on to the outside groove for his fourth career XFINITY Series win.
Pole sitter Erik Jones had issues with the No. 20 JGR car all afternoon after being one of five cars, including Keselowski's No. 22 Team Penske Ford, that had to start from the rear of the field for what NASCAR called "unapproved modifications" to the car that were discovered during pre-race inspection. He finished 27th.
Hornish, meanwhile, said the victory capped off a terrific Father's Day for himself.
“Getting the opportunity to race was a good Father’s Day present," said Hornish, who lost his full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ride at Richard Petty Motorsports after last season. "I didn’t even ask my wife. I just said yes and then I called her and said, ‘Honey, I might have screwed up here.'
"I said, ‘What do you think?’ She was more excited about it than I was, so I know I’ve got good backers behind me. So thank you and this is just an unbelievable day.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.