The two-time Craftsman Truck series champion, Ron Hornaday commented about his 2001 season in Winston Cup and his uncertainty on his future after A.J. Foyt Racing released him from the No. 14 Cup car.
Hornaday's success began in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest series and then to the Craftsman Trucks where in 1996 and 1998, he won the championship. His 25 victories in CTS make him the all-time series leader.
This is not the first time that Hornaday has faced this dilemma. At the end of the 2000 Busch season, Rookie driver Hornaday was again left without a ride. Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) Busch team decided to abolish the program after finishing 5th in the overall points.
In his only season in Busch, Hornaday had two victories and 18 top-tens. He also won the rookie-of-the-year honors by edging out Kevin Harvick. At that time the then 43-year-old was able to quickly secure a ride with A.J. Foyt for the 2001 Winston Cup team.
Prior to entering his Winston Cup season, Hornaday commented:
"I'm going to do the same thing I did to get here," Hornaday said. "That's to go fast and win races. Being a rookie just means I have to learn the cars and the engines and the tracks. If that means taking a bump from behind from Earnhardt, then so be it. I'll take it and dish right back."
The 2001 racing season was a rough one for the Winston Cup rookie driver as he failed to qualify for four races and only had one top-ten finish (9th at Las Vegas).
Prior to the final race at New Hampshire, Hornaday said car owner A.J. Foyt called him and said that the sponsor, Conseco Financial Services, wanted to make a change to the No. 14 Pontiac for 2002.
Hornaday accepted with grace the situation with DEI; however, he is not pleased with the fact that he is now out of a ride for 2002 and unable to actively pursue looking. Hornaday is still under contract with Foyt Racing.
Comments on the current situation and contract:
"Right now I'm still under contract with A.J. Foyt Racing," Hornaday said. "We've basically struggled all year. Now, I'm struggling to find something for next year but I'm still contracted to A.J.
"A.J. hasn't told me I'm fired or I could go look for another job, either. I would like to sit down and talk to him about it and see where were at. All he said is that they, Conseco, wanted to make a change.
"I understand he's bitter because we missed some shows. Heck, I'm used to winning and not making races is something I don't like doing either.
Comments on the 2001 season:
"It was just one of those years," Hornaday said. "It was a rookie team and third year of ownership for A.J. as an owner and I was the fourth driver during that time.
"Towards the end of the year we were down to about eight employees and using some of the Busch guys from Larry's (Foyt) team to fill our crew at the race track.
"Philippe Lopez left early in the year as my crew chief and he was one of the key elements for my going over there. It takes time for a team to gel. We missed some races we shouldn't have and we also had some good runs.
"Maybe he doesn't understand how competitive I am. You don't want to bad-mouth anybody, but I think A.J. needs to know what is really going on at that shop."