Hornaday to make his 100th start at Daytona
* Hornaday hits milestone
Ron Hornaday will make his 100th NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) start at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, July 4th. Hornaday began his NBS career back in 1998, when he drove the No. 59 Chevrolet in four races. Since that time, Hornaday has spent a full season, a partial season, and a here-and-there season in the NASCAR Busch Series. In fact 2003 is only Hornaday's second full season in the series- a fact that goes largely unnoticed. Because of his many NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) wins and the two NCTS championships, Hornaday seems to have "raced forever."
* Can he win his 100th race, again?
There is history for Hornaday when it comes to a 100th race. Hornaday was one of the original drivers in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series back 1995. But when the series rolled into Monroe, Wash. in 1999 for its 100th series race, Hornaday had a shot at a big bonus. He joined a group of five other drivers, who had made every start in the series history. As a special bonus, Craftsman put up a $100,000 prize, if one of the five drivers won the race. In typical Hornaday fashion, he dominated the race and took home the $100,000. He then turned and shared the entire paycheck with his No. 16 truck team. In the end, Hornaday netted about $1,100 of that bonus, after taxes.
* Pay attention to the decals
To commemorate his 100th start, Hornaday's ACDelco Monte Carlo will carry a special decal on the car, to signify the milestone. The team will also have a banner with the same 100th start logo in its garage stall and on pit road.
No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday on his 100th start in the NASCAR Busch Series
You will make your 100th NBS start at Daytona International Speedway. How significant is that milestone to you?
"Right now it is more of a cool thing than a milestone to me. A lot of drivers have more starts than that, including some of the young guns. 100 starts means that you have started to establish yourself as a regular in the series. But what is more important to me is the fact that we have been a factor in the previous 99 races. I didn't come to this series to just be one of the guys out there every Saturday. I want to be a factor in every race and I think I've been successful at that."
Looking back at your 100th NCTS start, which series has been more difficult?
"I don't think that is a fair question. Both series are tough. The competition back in the truck days with Skinner, Sprague, Ruttman, Bliss, Compton and Biffle, was as good as it was in any series. But the big difference is the depth of competition. There weren't as many good trucks back then as there are good Busch cars. The races were shorter as well, so you could really charge right from the start. There wasn't much saving of equipment."
"The Busch cars are different. They are "aero dependant". The races are longer, so you need to save your car for late in the race. It's just completely different racing. I don't think it is necessarily better racing than what we had in the trucks, but it is more competitive across all the teams. We won 25 races in our first 100 truck starts. It really wasn't as easy as it might look. What it was a tribute to how strong that No. 16 team was."
You started on the pole and won your 100th NCTS race. What are chances of repeating that feat Friday night in Daytona Beach, Fla.?
"Well anytime to show up at Daytona with a Chevrolet prepared by Richard Childress Racing, you have a shot at winning the pole and the race. I know that the guys in the shop have really worked hard on the body of this car and the motor room has been putting in extra hours to find us more speed. We were a lot better at Talladega than we were at Daytona in February. If we can make another jump in performance this time, we have a great shot at the win."
"Racing at Daytona is all about the car. The driver just has to make the right decision in the draft and hang on. The real heroes are the guys in the (fabrication) shop and the engine guys. They make it all happen and I think we have the best in the business on this ACDelco team. If we win this 100th start, it will be a tribute to the talent of this team and RCR."
Ron Hornaday and the ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo are fourth in the NASCAR Busch Series point's standings. Hornaday is 88 points out of first place.