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Truck racer adding to total

Posted: June 4, 2009 9:17 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Every time Ron Hornaday Jr. wins a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, he adds to his own record for career wins. He has 40 Truck Series wins in his career, the most recent coming at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in North Carolina on May 15.

He figures he should have at least two more wins this year. Who knows how many more he would have won if he didn’t leave the Truck Series for a chance to race Cup cars and in what was the Busch Series from 2000 to 2004.

The former Saugus Speedway champ has become the standard for quality in the Truck Series. At 50 years old – he turns 51 on June 20 – Hornaday is still contending for championships and always a threat to win races.

Hornaday said he had a winning truck at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He said he thought he should have won the rain-delayed, rain-shortened race at Kansas Speedway. Even though he wasn’t able to bring home a winning truck in those races, he has finished well enough to be in the lead in the Truck Series standings.

“We’ve given two away,” said Hornaday, who drives the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc. “One with the rain delay that would be the last one. We probably had the fastest truck there and that didn’t matter. Wherever we came out of the pits we could pass them and we were pretty good. (Mike) Skinner thought he had the best truck and it would have come down to the end and probably beating and banging, who knows. We had a pretty good truck. The next one was Atlanta I guess. We come out and some of those guys didn’t put tires on. We had the air pressure pretty low and we just didn’t get a good start and we had to finish in seventh or eighth.”

As the Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the eighth race of the season tonight, Hornaday has a 27-point lead over Skinner in the Truck Series standings. While Hornaday has won more races than any other driver in the Truck Series, he is tied with Jack Sprague for the most Truck Series championships. Each has three, and Hornaday would like nothing more than to break that tie.

As good as his truck and team were at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, it took a beating in the Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway in Delaware last week. He started on the pole, but blew a tire early in the race and finished 26th. Despite the poor result, Hornaday was able to hold on to the lead in the Truck Series standings.

The best race of the season for Hornaday was followed by one of his worst. The funny thing is Hornaday said his truck that won the Lowe’s race wasn’t the best truck on the track that night.

“I had a third-place truck all night,” Hornaday said after the race. “We were as fast as the No. 6 (Colin Braun) but I caught him and he ran the line I did. If he had stayed in the half-way groove I would have passed him but he’s got a great spotter. He told him where I was running at and he came down on me, and it was too late in the run because I was overdriving my truck getting in the corner, where when he pulled down I just made the truck air tight for a couple of laps and I lost my front tires. We were just as fast as everybody else but air played a bunch tonight on these tires.”

The truck Hornaday drove at Dover won the pole and led the first 12 laps of the race. But the tires on his truck wore out quickly and he blew the right-front tire on lap 86. It took him out of contention for the win, but not out of contention for the championship.

Rick Ren, Hornaday’s crew chief, said he’s been happy with the consistency his driver has shown in the first seven races of the season. Hornaday has six top-10 finishes and four top-fives. His worst finish came at Dover.

“Our trucks have been good and the guys have been good,” Ren said. “We’ve done a lot of work on the chassis dyno, a lot of work in the wind tunnel. We’ve been going to the seven post. We’re just trying to move our program, the whole KHI program up one more notch because if you sit on your hands all winter somebody else is going to drive right by you so you’ve got to keep working. We’ve been fast so that’s where we want to leave it.”

Tim Haddock can be reached by e-mail at tim@haddockinthepaddock.com. Go to www.haddockinthepaddock.com for video interviews of drivers from Toyota Speedway at Irwindale and previews of the NHRA races from Route 66 Raceway in Illinois, Firestone Indy Lights race at Texas Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.

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