By Stephanie Adair – In just one race, the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings have shifted again. Austin Dillon has now claimed the top spot after finishing sixth at Kansas Speedway last weekend. He leads Sam Hornish Jr. by eight points in the championship standings. With four races left in the season, it looks to become another exciting battle for the series championship.
Dillon has made an impressive surge, as of late, posting in the top six the last four races. Hornish Jr., on the other hand, has faced adversity finishing 17th in the last two races. This could spell trouble for the Penske Racing driver.
Heading into Charlotte Motor Speedway, both are fairly equal in stats. It should be interesting to see which one prevails over the other when they cross the finish line. At Texas Motor Speedway, Dillon has the advantage. The 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion has three top 10s in three starts there with a 4.7 average finish. In comparison, Hornish Jr. has only two top 10s in seven starts and a 17.9 average finish.
Dillon’s strength doesn’t stop in Texas. He is exceptionally stout at both Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead Miami Speedway as well. At both tracks, he has finished in the top 10 at least 75% of the time. Dillon proves to be a formidable opponent, despite Hornish being highly competitive this season. Both drivers will be vying for their first Nationwide Series title.
One misfortune could sink championship hopes for either driver. With competition as close as this, a team needs to be above par to win it all. Every position and every point will count. What would be most useful is a win. Hornish has secured one at Las Vegas Motor Speedway while Dillon has yet to visit Victory Lane this season. If the championship comes down to a tie, the greatest number of victories would be the deciding factor.
With such a narrow points margin separating the two drivers, no one may know whose name will be engraved on the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series trophy until the checkered flag flies at Homestead. However, if either one has the upper-hand in this battle, it would arguably be Dillon.
Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist.