On a perfect Kentucky night to quote Speed TV's Michael Waltrip. Ron Hornaday Jr. had to earn the win in Saturday nights Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway.
Hornaday won his third consecutive race, held off Mike Skinner winning by 0.136 seconds for his 43rd career win and fourth of the season.
It was his second win at Kentucky, he now has for the second time in his storied career that he's won three in a row and the stellar work of Horn's pit crew making all the right adjustments benefited him with this win.
The big news prior to the race start. Kevin Harvick Inc. prior to the start of qualifying during inspection, Hornaday's No. 33 had it's rear end housing confiscated due to not being of specifications and we'll know Tuesday what the penalty will be.
According to Speed's Ray Dunlap, it was offset, outside the provisions of NASCAR's rulebook.
Hornaday in the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet, won the pole and it was his fourth of the year and Brian Scott in the No. 16 Albertson's Toyota starts on in the outside pole position.
Ricky Carmichael in the No. 4 Monster Energy Drink Chevrolet starts third, Brian Ickler in the No. 51 Red Top Auto Auction Toyota starts fourth and Todd Bodine in the No. 30 Copart Toyota starts fifth.
The pit window tonight is 55 to 65 laps, 36 trucks started the race and at race start it was 68*.
On the Lap 1 start, Hornaday would take the green flag but run side by side with Scott and coming back to the strip Horn would be leading by a nose width.
On Lap 2, Hornaday and Scott battled back and forth into the lead, but coming back to the stripe Scott would be leading.
On Lap 3, they are still be battling side by side, with Scott lead the lap by a nose.
On Lap 4, both Scott and Hornaday are still battling side by side, both at different times of each of the first four laps have swapped the lead.
On Lap 5, Scott would pull away from Hornaday by a couple of truck lengths. Timothy Peters in the No. 17 Strutmasters.com Toyota started ninth and has worked his way up to third.
By Lap 8, Scott would have a lead of 0.477 seconds on Hornaday and close to 2 seconds on Peters in third.
After 10 Laps, the top five was; Scott leading, Hornaday in second, Peters in third, Stacy Compton in the No. 60 SafeAuto Insurance Toyota in fourth and Carmichael in fifth.
On Lap 12, Scott would be leading Hornaday by 0.712 seconds, and has a 2.5 seconds lead on Peters in third.
By Lap 21, Scott lead was 0.706 seconds over Hornaday in second, but Horn had reeled him in and lost ground due to getting around a lapped truck that made him slow down.
By Lap 26, Scott widened his lead to 0.966 seconds over Hornaday in second and Peters in third is 2.9 seconds back.
On Lap 27, the best racing on the track is Carmichael and Bodine battling for sixth and seventh.
On Lap 28, Scott still leads Hornaday by 0.377 seconds, but Horn has adjusted his line and continues to reel in the leader.
After 30 Laps, the top five was; Scott leading, Hornaday second, Compton third, Peters fourth and Ickler fifth.
The first caution came out on Lap 35, for Scott who seconds after losing the lead to Hornaday blew a right front tire, bounced off of the wall and had contact with Compton.
David Starr in the No. 24 Zachry Toyota would be the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner under the first caution.
On Lap 36, everyone pits making the first of two stops, either taking tires or fuel first and sure someone will gamble making one stop.
On Lap 37, everyone but Chad McCumbee in the No. 07 Tiwi Chevrolet makes a second stop and he's the new leader.
After pit stops the top five was; McCumbee leading, Hornaday second, Tayler Malsam in the No. 81 One-Eighty Toyota is third, Bodine fourth and Peters fifth.
On the Lap 41 restart, McCumbee takes the green, but Hornaday coming out of turn two takes the lead and hangs onto it back to the stripe.
Scott restarted 20th, on the lead lap after his crew made repairs on pit road under the caution.
On Lap 44, Hornaday leading, McCumbee second and Malsam third are all together racing each other for positions.
Malsam would pass McCumbee for second and Bodine would also get by for third.
By Lap 46, Hornaday leading, Malsam in second and Bodine in third are all together racing for positions.
On Lap 47, Malsam would make the pass of Hornaday for the lead on the high side. Hornaday and Bodine were side by side battling for second and third.
On Lap 48, Peter would passed both Hornaday and Bodine for second, dropping them back to third and fourth respectively.
By lap 50, Malsam would lead by 0.933 seconds over Peters in second and Bodine takes third passing Hornaday.
After 52 Laps, the top five was; Malsam leading, Peters second, Bodine third, Hornaday fourth and Ickler fifth.
The second caution flag comes out on Lap 54, for J.J. Yeley in the No. 73 County Building Centers Chevrolet who got loose, spins and gets into the wall.
Jame Buescher in the No. 10 MaxxForce Diesel Ford was the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner under the caution.
On the Lap 57 restart, Malsam takes the green, doesn't get going, Bodine third gets up on the high side right in front of Hornaday, passes both Peters and Malsam takes the lead.
On Lap 59, Bodine leads, with Hornaday hot on his heels in second and they put some distance on Malsam in third.
On Lap 62, Bodine leads by 0.697 seconds over Hornaday seconds and NASCAR warns Bodine as he was close to jumping the start.
After 66 Laps, the top five was; Bodine leading, Hornaday second, Malsam third, Peters fourth and Mike Skinner in No. 5 Exide Batteries Toyota was fifth.
By Lap 67, Bodine would lead by 1.983 seconds over Hornaday in second and Scott running in 18th place.
On Lap 73, Malsam takes second, passes Hornaday on the high side and drops him to third and is close to close to three seconds behind.
By Lap 75, Bodine leads by 2.744 seconds over Malsam in second, then Peters would pass Hornaday for third.
After 76 Laps, the top five was; Bodine leading, Malsam second, Peters third, Hornaday fourth and Skinner fifth.
On Lap 79, Bodine leads by 2.134 seconds over Malsam in second, Scott has made it back to 15th, he's about 14 seconds behind the leader and is battling for each position he picks up.
By Lap 81, Bodine leads by 2.108 seconds over Malsam, but the rookie continues to catch to reel in and catch the leader.
After 85 Laps, the top five was; Bodine leads, Malsam second, Peters third, Hornaday fourth and Skinner fifth.
On Lap 88, Bodine leads by 1.632 seconds on Malsam in second and Scott now running in 14th place.
By Lap 93, Bodine still leads by 1.382 seconds over Malsam in second, but the rookie continues to chip away at Bodine's lead.
After 94 Laps, the top five was; Bodine leads, Malsam second, Peters third, Hornaday fourth and Skinner fifth.
By Lap 97, Bodine still leads, but it's shrunk to 1.091 seconds over Malsam in second and the rookie continues to reel the leader in.
On Lap 99, green flag pit stops start with Malsam coming to pit road with McCumbee making a fuel and adjustment stops.
By Lap 100, Hornaday, Colin Braun in the No. 6 Con-Way Freight Ford and T.J. Bell in No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota all make fuel stops and adjustments.
Terry Cook in the No. 25 Cajun Industries Toyota would slow, but missed pit road.
On Lap 101, Bodine makes his stop for fuel, makes no adjustments.
Cook makes it to pit road for his stop, he lets his crew know that he broke his brake petal off trying to slow coming to pit road.
On Lap 102, Ickler comes in for his pit stop, leaving only seven trucks on the lead lap and everyone else is a lap down.
Only Matt Crafton in the No. 88 Menard's/Ideal Chevrolet, Brian Scott, Dennis Setzer in the No. 8 Malcolmson Chevrolet, Todd Bodine, Tayler Malsam, Timothy Peters and Stacy Compton are the only drivers on the lead lap.
On Lap 105, Crafton leads by 11 seconds over Scott in second, Hornaday is running in 10th, Skinner in 11th and both are a lap down.
After 107 Laps, the top five was; Crafton leads, Scott second, Setzer third, Bodine fourth and Malsam fifth.
Now Crafton, Scott and aSetzer will need a caution since they'll have to make green flag stops in 11 laps with out one.
The third caution comes out on Lap 112, for Norm Benning in the No. 57 Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet stalled on the track and need help getting to pit road.
Crafton leading would make a mistake, he was on pit road when the caution came out and could have stopped made his stop without penalty, but drove down pit road allowing eight drivers to get back on the lead lap.
Plus he was penalized for speeding leaving pit road and have to start on the tail end of the longest line. Terry Cook would win the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner.
On Lap 114, the leaders make there first of two stops, most having stopped for fuel prior to the caution will just stop for tires.
After pit stops the top five was; Aric Almirola in the No. 15 RedTop Auto Auction Toyota, Ickler second, Bodine third, Peters fourth and Malsam fifth.
On the Lap 116 restart, Almirola takes the green on Carmichael's bumper who started on the tail end of the lead lap and Almirola passes him quickly gets a cushion as Bodine and Ickler battle for second.
On Lap 118, Almirola continues to lead, has McCumbee in front of him and a cushion on Ickler in second with the lapped truck of Carmichael between them.
On Lap 119, Malsam passes Ickler on the high side for second and starts after the leader Almirola.
On Lap 120, Malsam second, Ickler third and Peters fourth are all nose to tail racing each other for position.
On Lap 121, Bodine in fifth, would pass Peters to take fourth and Hornaday has caught up to them running in sixth.
The fourth caution comes out on Lap 122, for Bell who started smoking and blows up his engine.
McCumbee battles his way back on the lead lap and Carmichael is the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner.
After 124 Laps, the top five was; Almirola leads, Malsam second, Ickler third, Bodine fourth and Peters fifth.
On the Lap 126 restart, Almirola takes the green, he goes up high to block Malsam who hasn't hit taken the green, has Ickler besides him and will get black flagged for jumping the start.
On Lap 128, Almirola leads by less than a truck length, Malsam in second is right their and he has Hornaday on his bumper.
The fifth caution comes out on Lap 130, for fluid still on the track probably from when Bell blow up or one of the other trucks is leaking fluid on the track.
On the Lap 132 restart, Almirola takes the green pulls away from Malsam, who gets passed by Hornaday for second.
Coming off of turn four, Hornaday would pass Almirola coming back to the stripe takes the lead.
The sixth caution comes out on Lap 133, for Cook who gets loose spins tries to save it but gets in the wall, having contact with both Scott and Ickler.
Scott didn't seem to get damaged at all, looks like he was inside of Cook, but stops before he gets into the wall a second time.
While both Cook and Ickler had sufficient damage as they make it to pit road, both go behind the wall for repairs.
Under the caution, the top five was; Hornaday leading, Almirola second, Malsam third, Bodine fourth and Skinner fifth.
On the Lap 137 restart, Hornaday takes the green, he blocks the top side pulling away dropping back toward the low side. Bodine would pass both Almirola and Malsam for second.
On Lap 139, Hornaday leads with Bodine in second hot on his heels trying to catch him.
The action with 10 laps to go was exciting you had three and four wide action. At one point Almirola bounces off of the wall getting minor damage and Peters has his truck sideways, but safes it from wrecking.
The seventh caution comes out on Lap 143, for Malsam who loses it after cutting his left rear tire and also losing his right front.
Under caution, Hornaday leading talks to his crew chief Rick Ren that his fuel light keeps fluctuating on and off. Ren would tell him to turn it off down the straight aways.
Bodine also has problems with his truck smoking, and lets his crew know that he has a vibration in the engine.
On the Lap 145 restart, Hornaday takes the green, Bodine drops to the bottom lets the leaders by as his truck gives out.
On Lap 146, Hornaday has a couple of truck length lead on Skinner in second and Crafton in third is right on his heels.
On Lap 147, Hornaday would lead by 1/2 second on Skinner now and Crafton in third with fresher tires has no advantage with catching either the leader or Skinner.
With two to go, Hornaday still has the lead Skinner is right their, but just can't get up to him to try to make a pass.
Hornaday takes the white flag with Skinner hot on his heals, but Hornaday races around most of the lap in the middle groove and not till turn four does he drop to the bottom.
Skinner in second, can't mount any charge to try to make a pass heading back to the checkers.
Hornaday takes the checkers, earns a hard fought win with a top five truck at best and his pit crew played a role with making all the right adjustments on his truck that worked enabling him to challenge for the win.
It was Hornaday's fourth win of 2009, he takes the checkers salutes the fans and heads to victory lane. Thanking all his sponsors, Ren, the crew, the Harvick's and Lindy.
Mike Skinner finishes second, doesn't lead a lap tonight, but ran a great race a smart one after starting 19th and probably qualifying better would have helped him in the closing laps.
Matt Crafton finished third, led nine laps, rebound from his speeding penalty to earn a hard fought fifth top five of the season.
Timothy Peters finished fourth, he ran a great race and has been just on fire since driving for Red Horse racing and seems to be excelling in top notch equipment. Compared to what he started the season with.
Aric Almirola finishes fifth, has another great run for Billy Ballew, ran a smart race and led 19 laps.
Brian Scott arguably ran the best race of anyone at Kentucky, led 29 laps before losing a right front, his crew showed why they are one of the best on pit road and he earned a hard fought sixth place finish.
Seventh through 10th are as follows; Ricky Carmichael, James Buescher, David Starr and Dennis Setzer.
Regarding the confiscated rear housing from Hornaday's truck, Rick Ren made the following comments post race.
"We buy it from a manufacturer in good faith," Ren said.
"The housing was not built to order. We measure it, but not the part that is illegal per the rule book. We brought it to the race track, we're responsible and we'll be penalized. It slipped through so many cracks. We're talking about a quarter of a inch, and the discrepancy didn't make any difference as far as performance."
"It's in black and white in the rulebook, but it was built wrong. I don't want people to think we're cheating."
The points for now; Hornaday leads Crafton by 96 points in second and Skinner in third by 154 points. Of course this will change on Tuesday when NASCAR hands down the penalty to the KHI No. 33 team.
The next race is; July 24: the AAA Insurance 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park on Speed at 7:30PM the Set-Up Show hosted by Krista Voda and a 8:00PM Race Time.
Source for this article are my racing notes, any mistakes are my own, the quotes from Rick Ren come from nascar.com and used truckseries.com lap summary for a resource only.
Photo credit: sports.yahoo.com