As Good As He Once Was: Ron Hornaday Wins Historic Fifth Race In a Row
On the wall in the Kevin Harvick, Motorsports shop in Kernersville, NC, there is a saying: "I hate to lose more than I love to win."
For driver Ron Hornaday, it's been more than a month since he's lost. And he's loving every minute of it.
After a slight delay due to the rain, the Toyota Tundra 200 got under way under the lights in Nashville, TN.
It was pole sitter Timothy Peters who jumped out to an early lead, but Hornaday and his drive for five in a row wasted no time in passing second place truck Colin Braun. The No. 6 truck of Braun seemed to be struggling, falling five positions in the first six laps.
Just a lap before the competition caution came out on lap 35, Ron Hornaday used the lap truck of Stacy Compton to take the lead from Peters, who had built over a second lead over the field.
Hornaday retained his lead after pit stops were completed, while Mike Skinner and Travis Kvapil were among the trucks to gamble and take just two right side tires.
Lap 42 saw the trucks go back to green, and Hornaday jumped out to a substantial lead. A lap later, the No. 51 of Kvapil got loose and nearly hit the wall, but saved the truck and kept on racing.
Two laps after the green flag, J.R. Fitzpatrick, driving the KHI No. 4 Chevrolet normally piloted by Ricky Carmichael, brought out the second caution of the night after slamming into the wall.
The pace truck once again pealed off the track at lap 50, with "the king of restarts" once again jumping out to a commanding lead. A battle between Todd Bodine and the pole sitter ensued.
Lap 51 saw Tommy Joe Martins and Mario Gosselin, who had just been the lucky dog, tangled and brought out the night's third caution. Blake Feese, piloting the No. 15 Toyota, also received damage but continued on track. The incident started when Martins tagged Feese, and then collected Gosselin. Both he and the No. 22 of Feese went behind the wall.
Along with the competition caution, NASCAR gave each team two extra sets of right side tires. Under the caution, Taylor Malsam and Stacy Compton took the opportunity to get off sequence fuel wise, hoping for a long green flag run.
The green flag once again came out on lap 58. Peters in the runner up position was the one to capitalize on the restart, steadily gaining on leader Hornaday.
While things remained relatively quiet up front, with Hornaday getting out to a second lead, the real racing occurred further back in the pack, with T.J. Bell and Matt Crafton making it interesting, and sometimes three wide, in their quest to gain positions. Skinner, who took three tires during the lap 37 pit stops, struggled back in 13th, saying his truck drove "like a dump truck."
By the time the trucks reached halfway, the '07 Truck champ pulled out to more than a two second lead over Peters as the field began to spread out. A few laps later, on lap 84, a debris caution caused the pace car to take the lead for the fourth time, but rain was also coming down, throwing a wrench in the crew chiefs strategies.
Despite the rain drops, all of the leaders came down pit road; Peters took two tires and took the lead from Hornaday, who came out fifth when both pit stops were said and down. Brian Scott, who won on another concrete track (Dover), came off pit road in second.
On lap 90 the green came out, and wasting no time, Hornaday, Peters, and Scott made it three wide for second, third and fourth. Hornaday would the lead once again not much longer, when he, leader Jason White, and Brian Scott again made it three wide.
With Brian Scott running behind in second, Hornaday began pulling out to a substantial lead as the rain began coming down harder. The leader radioed to NASCAR asking for a caution, but was told "we're thinking about it."
"Thinking about it?" Hornaday replied. "They're going to wait until somebody wrecks!"
With less than 50 laps to go, the fifth caution of the night came out due to—what else?— rain. However, NASCAR determined there wasn't enough water on track to bring the trucks down pit road and threw the green flag on lap 106.
Not allowing Hornaday to get away, Scott stayed on the bumper of the No. 33 while Crafton and Bodine began a hard battle for fourth, remaining side by side for two laps before Bodine cleared Crafton to keep his spot.
Terry Cook and T.J. Bell then made it three wide with Crafton for fifth, as the desperation to gain spots before the rain became heavier set in.
Hornaday began pulling away from Scott three laps into the green flag run, building a nearly second lead ahead of the No. 16, who then had pole-sitter Peters to contend with.
With 30 laps to go, Hornaday stretched his lead to over a second while the battle between Scott and Peters began to heat up as the lap count went down. Bodine in the No. 30 Toyota also made his presence known as he began gaining on the second and third place trucks.
On lap 135 the No. 6 Conway Ford of Colin Braun really began to show life, passing Crafton for fifth. Hornaday, meanwhile, pulled out to a 2.2 second lead over second place Scott.
Rick Crawford, who hasn't finished in the top 10 since the June race in Texas, reported a problem with his right front tire, telling his crew he "hoped to nurse this thing home" with just twelve laps to go.
With five laps to go, fourth place Todd Bodine also reported a right rear tire problem. However, a caution came out with two laps to go meaning Hornaday's lead would be erased and a green—white checkered would decide the winner.
The caution was for Terry Cook, who lost a right rear tire and made contact with the wall. Bodine, who's tire was indeed down, came down pit road. He would end up finished 13th.
With two laps of racing, Hornaday jumped out to a substantial lead thanks to Scott bobbling on the restart.
"I don't know what to say," an emotional Hornaday said. "Five... can you believe that?"
"(I was) real concerned," he said about the green white checkered. "First, Rick said 'save fuel' and I was like 'how do I save fuel? The throttle's sticking!' I didn't think I could get more grey hair."
He then wished his son a happy birthday.
With his win, Hornaday becomes the first driver in NASCAR to win five races in a row since Bobby Allison and Richard Petty did it in 1971. This was also his first win at Nashville, and extended his points lead to the biggest lead after fourteen races. He leads Crafton by 216 points.
Crew chief Rick Ren made some history of his own, becoming the winningest crew chief in Truck Series history.
"It's not much better than this! I don't even know what to say," he said after thanking team owners Kevin and Delana Harvick.
Broken wrist and all, Brian Scott came home second.
"You know, we took a run at it, we just weren't good enough," Scott said. "But I'm really proud of my guys. I'm really happy about second, that was a good run. But man, everyone wants that Les Paul guitar."
"Ron, he's a legend and he's the man. Congratulations to him."
The Camping World Truck Series has a couple weeks off before heading to Bristol Motor Speedway, where they'll be racing on Wednesday, August 19th.
This article also appears on FanZoneSports.net.
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