Dillon's car suffers minor damage in final practice
November 15, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Rival Sam Hornish Jr. also had some trouble in the first practice
MORE: Practice results
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Austin Dillon continued on after minor damage to the front splitter of his car after hitting a piece of debris early in Friday afternoon's final practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Dillon, who leads Sam Hornish Jr. by eight points in the series standings heading into Saturday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 300, brought his No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro into the garage, where the Richard Childress Racing crew went to work on making repairs, just under the front bumper. After some hasty work, Dillon was back on the track after a 10-minute delay.
Earlier in the day, Hornish had his own share of trouble, scraping the right-rear fender of the No. 12 Penske Racing Ford against the outside wall in turns 3 and 4 on the 1.5-mile track.
Hornish was fourth-fastest in Friday's opening Nationwide practice and 10th in the final practice. Dillon was 14th-best in the early session and 17th-fastest in final practice. Rookie Kyle Larson set the fastest lap in the first session.
Regan Smith, the defending race winner at Homestead-Miami, topped the final practice leaderboard in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at 167.380 mph. He was followed by Cole Whitt, Justin Allgaier, Brad Sweet and Blake Koch in the top five.
The 70-minute session was stopped three times. It was first halted so clean-up crews could pick up the stray piece of metal that Dillon struck on the backstretch. Another stoppage occurred approximately 15 minutes later after Sweet scratched the wall with the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevy.
Just 10 minutes later, Kyle Busch slid into the infield grass when he overshot the pit-access lane. Busch is trying to overcome a four-point deficit for the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team in the Nationwide Series team owner points to the leading No. 22 Penske Racing Ford team, which is deploying Sprint Cup regular Joey Logano this weekend.
Busch continued after his team cleared his grille of grass and inspected for any damage. he wound up 11th on the speed chart to Logano's ninth.
Hornish assessed his chances at his first championship after the early miscue.
"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 thewall. 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."
Travis Pastrana, who announced Monday that he would not return to NASCAR racing next season, was 15th-fastest in the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in final practice. Teammate Trevor Bayne, who announced a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis one day later, was eighth-fastest in the final session.
Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 2).