Kevin Harvick Inc.'s Ron Hornaday Jr. achieved another first in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with an ESPY nomination in the Best Driver category.
For me as a fan, it's totally awesome to see happen, just look at what Hornaday did in 2009, and it's so richly deserved.
Perhaps fellow competitor David Starr said it the best. "With all the various motorsports and drivers that could have been selected, it's great for our series that a driver is included."
It's huge. The ESPN ESPY awards are the sporting world's Oscars, and this gives the series exposure to a huge nationwide audience. One that might just add new fans to the series' ever-growing fanbase and higher ratings for Speed TV.
"I was really shocked when I got the call," said Hornaday.
"This is a pretty cool thing. I am really honored to be nominated with drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dario Franchitti, and Tony Schumacher. All these guys are great drivers and I am honored that they would even consider me."
Hornaday's a 52 years young legend, that just goes against the norm, and like fine wine, just gets better with age.
He's a second-generation driver from southern California who followed in his Dad's (Ron Sr.) footsteps, racing on the local short tracks all the way to NASCAR.
Horn's raced in all three of NASCAR's top-tier series, and raced for some of NASCAR's best owners: Dale Earnhardt Sr., Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, and Kevin and Delana Harvick.
He raced for his idol, A.J. Foyt in the Sprint Cup, but it was in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that he found a happy home and holds just about every record in the series.
Throughout his career, Hornaday and his wife Lindy have always helped young racers from NASCAR at the local short track that come over asking him for advice, be it working on their cars to pointers on racing a certain track. It doesn't matter. His house is always open and available to them, and it was one of those relationships that led to his current ride.
Back in 2004, it looked like Horn's career was over, but Kevin Harvick never forgot how he had let him live with them: sleeping on a couch and treated like he was family.
Harvick paid his friend back by offering Horn a ride in trucks with his KHI team, and the rest is history.
Here are some amazing statistical numbers that Horn compiled in 2009 on his way to his fourth title and another first achievement for the series.
Horn started the season by finishing no worse than seventh in the first six races and even picked up his first win of the season at Charlotte. In 23 races of 25, he qualified sixth or better, picked up four pole awards, and started seven times from the front row.
Horn, in a five-race stretch from mid-June at Milwaukee till early August at Nashville, won five consecutive races. He equaled a mark NASCAR hasn't seen happen in 38 years, putting his name with Richard Petty and Bobby Allison, who did it in 1971.
What made it impressive was that he picked up his first wins at Kentucky and Nashville, repeated at Memphis, and broke in a brand-new chassis twice during the streak.
Point-wise over that stretch, Horn went from a 27-point deficit to a 216 point advantage, and it was just "taking care of business" over the remaining races. Horn would also achieve another first in the series, being named the Third Quarter Driver of the Year.
Over the 25 race season he compiled six wins, 15 top-fives, 20 top-10 finishes, four poles, and led 1,091 laps en route to his fourth title.
In his 13 year career in the series, Horn has compiled 259 races, 45 wins, 127 top-fives, 184 top-10 finishes, 25 poles, led 8,971 laps, has an average start of 8.3, an average finish of 8.8, and logged 43,354 miles in the series.
"He has set the bar so high for all of us in the sport and deserves to be recognized for his great accomplishments, especially after last season," said Carmichael.
I've been busy on ESPN voting for Horn, even have the ballot link set-up on my computer as a shortcut and it would be awesome to see him win the ESPY.
Anyone can vote, but you have to register with ESPN first, and then can you vote for each of the fan voting categories in just a couple of minutes.
ESPN will hold the ESPY awards on Wednesday July 14th, at 9PM and it will be televised on ESPN for the first-time since 2003.
Photo Credit: kevinharvickinc.com