Ohioan Sam Hornish Jr. wins Xfinity Mid-Ohio race

LEXINGTON, Ohio -- Sam Hornish Jr.'s experience at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course finally paid off.

Hornish dominated in his home state to win the Xfinity Mid-Ohio Challenge on Saturday.

"I think I've been second or third here a few times in other series but could never win here,'' he said. "To finally punch that ticket means a lot to me.''

Hornish, from Defiance, Ohio, took the lead from rookie Daniel Hemric on Lap 62 of 75 after the seventh caution. He beat Hemric by 1.335 seconds for his fifth victory in 117 Xfinity races.

Hemric acknowledged that Hornish had a home-course advantage, especially when it came to handling the 13 turns on the 2.258-mile track.

"Sam's been around here a lot,'' he said. "I'm proud of how we bounced back and had a chance to win at the end.''

Hornish, who was second in the race last year, led for 61 laps and avoided a 10-car pileup on lap 69 that resulted in the second red flag. There were also nine cautions.

Rookie Matt Tifft, a Hinckley, Ohio, native was third, 2.373 seconds back of Hornish. James Davison and Andy Lally completed the top five.

"We played defense a little bit,'' Tifft said. "We kind of let the guys sort themselves out.''

Blake Koch of Kaulig Racing from Akron, Ohio, won the first stage ahead of Brennan Poole. Hornish, who won the pole, easily took the second 20-lap stage by 4.645 seconds over Hemric.

After Hornish lost the lead on a pit stop, he regained it on lap 46 when he went side-by-side with Hemric on turns 5 through 9 before taking the inside position and pulling away.

"It was our race to lose today,'' Hornish said. "I had a good battle with Daniel.''

Elliott Sadler, the series points leader, was sixth.