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Hornish hits wall in opening practice

November 15, 2013, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com

Larson tops first practice at Homestead

MORE: Practice results

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – NASCAR Nationwide Series championship contender Sam Hornish Jr. made his quest for a first NASCAR title more dramatic than he would like after hitting the wall in opening practice Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Hornish, who trails Austin Dillon by eight points entering Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 season finale, says he was turning in a fast lap in the No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Ford when the car bottomed out between Turns 3 and 4 of the 1.5-mile oval.

There was mostly cosmetic damage to the right rear quarter panel and after basic repairs Hornish returned to practice. And he still turned in the fourth fastest lap of the session.

Points leader Dillon was 14th fastest in the No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet and could clinch his first Nationwide title with a third-place finish on Saturday.

Rookie Kyle Larson set the fastest time in practice with a lap of 168.908 mph in the No. 32 Target Chevrolet. Matt Kenseth (No. 18 GameStop Toyota) and Hornish’s teammate Joey Logano (No. 22 Hertz Ford) were second and third quickest.

Logano is trying to win the owner’s title for Penske and holds a slim 4-point edge over the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota driven this weekend by Kyle Busch, who was fifth quickest in practice.

"If you look at lap times we’re pretty decent," said Hornish, noting the cool and overcast conditions are drastically different from normal at this time of year in South Florida.

"Basically I went through (turns) three and four running a high line and just hit the bumps and it bottomed my car out and shot me into the wall. During testing we were running a 33-second lap and I was running probably a 32-second lap at the time.

"I knew the amount I hit it, it wouldn’t be optimal, but I knew it wouldn’t mean we’d need a back-up car or bend it up too bad.

"This will not be easy. But we’ve got speed in the car though and that’s a positive."

There is one more practice session, scheduled for 3:10 p.m. ET on Friday. Qualifying is set for Saturday.

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