By the time Sam Hornish took the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Wypall 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, more than one-half of the starting grid had been involved in crashes.
And it all began on the very first lap when Danica Patrick’s chance at a win in her second Nationwide start since leaving the IZOD IndyCar Series went up in smoke. The No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was caught up in a melee started by Brian Scott that ended up involving eight cars.
She managed to limp back top pit road and came back out, only to finish 21st, four laps down.
In terms of the NNS championship, the most costly crash was with 25 laps to go when the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Incorporated Chevrolet of Elliott Sadler was punted into the wall by Jason Lefler in the No. 38 Chevrolet.
Sadler was in second place, 17 points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr., going into the race. Now with one race left his chances are all but over for a first Nationwide championship.
Although Hornish has a pair of wins at Phoenix in the IndyCar Series, where he was a two-time champion, Saturday’s was his first NASCAR win.
He’s only running part-time this season in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge after losing his Sprint Cup ride to Brad Keselowski last season.
Keselowski, meanwhile, made it a 1-2 Penske sweep, finishing second in the No. 22 Dodge.
The lone Canadian in the race, D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas, finished 33rd after blowing a tire in Turn 2 on Lap 83. Kennington had started 34th in the No. 80 McDonald Motorsports Dodge.