Hornaday seeks end to dry spell
July 21, 1999
By Dave Rodman, NASCAR Online
Ron Hornaday is winding down the current chapter of his storied career in the NASCAR
Craftsman Truck Series, and quite frankly, the two-time and defending series champion from
Palmdale, Calif., is disgusted with the current state of affairs.
Hornaday, in the process of falling 218 points behind archrival Jack Sprague in the
standings, has not won in the last 11 races -- the longest winless drought in his
five-year career in the trucks. Worse yet, he has only one top-5 finish in the same
stretch of races.
"This team is fighting to turn it around, but we can't catch a break," said
Hornaday, who has wrecked strong trucks in his last two outings. "We will not give up
and we will turn it around."
Even though his experience is minimal at Michigan Speedway, the site of Saturday's
goracing.com 200, the 16th race of the 25-race season, he's looking for any little
advantage he can get in the NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet.
Hornaday will scratch and claw for every hundredth of a second he can find in some two
hours of practice on Thursday, leading into Friday's Bud Pole Qualifying session that will
set the field for the race.
Hornaday's last victory came in the circuit's 100th race, at Evergreen Speedway on April
10. At that point, Hornaday had won two of the first three races this season, but since
then, he has fallen to sixth in the standings heading into the 200-mile test on the
two-mile speedway with 18-degree banked corners.
Hornaday is nowhere near daunted by the series' first visit to its longest oval venue in
"This place is awesome," Hornaday said. "It is a smooth surface with only a
couple of bumps coming off of Turn 4. It is really fast. A lot of people say that is just
like California (Speedway), but it's not. The banking here is steeper, so you can drive
into the corners deeper than at Fontana."
Michigan would be a good place to start a turnaround, as it's in the manufacturers' back
yard, so to speak. Hornaday also is one of a small handful of drivers in the series who
has any experience on the track. A few years back, Hornaday attempted to qualify for a
NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Michigan in the Racing for Kids Chevrolet owned by Dale
Earnhardt. Hornaday brushed the wall in Turn 3 during qualifying and failed to make the
"We had a pretty good car," said Hornaday, who will move to the NASCAR Busch
Series Grand National Division in 2000 with DEI in a NAPA-sponsored car, said.
"Michael Waltrip practiced the car some to help us setup wise because I hadn't been
there before. I kept telling Michael that it was loose.
"He said it was perfect, but I was half-a-second faster than him in practice. So we
didn't change anything and I drove it into three and she broke loose. I came back in and
said, 'I told you it was loose,'"
Hornaday's transporter will unload truck No. 10. It has yet to be named and is the newest
superspeedway truck in the DEI fleet. It is the same truck the team took to Texas Motor
Speedway on June 11. During that event the truck was the fastest during the race and
nearly led the most laps before running out of fuel. Although Hornaday is in charge of
naming the trucks, the team has nicknamed it "Thirsty," for obvious reasons.
Hornaday knows that might be a factor, but it doesn't hurt his confidence any,
particularly in his engine builder Ron Hutter.
"In the Winston Cup races here it always comes down to fuel mileage, and I think it
will for the trucks as well," he said. "It is such a wide track, so you have
plenty of room to pass. When you have cautions here they are usually because something
broke, not because of contact with another vehicle. If you don't have a bunch of cautions,
then it's all green flag racing and the draft can either help your fuel mileage or hurt
"You have to have a great motor here. If you don't have the motor, you better hope
everyone runs out of gas, because you don't have a chance. These Ron Hutter motors are
awesome and I'll put my horsepower up against anyone."
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