RON HORNADAY AND RICK REN (Note: some answers have been edited for clarity and brevity) MODERATOR: Good afternoon everyone. We're pleased to have with us today Ron Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick,...
RON HORNADAY AND RICK REN
(Note: some answers have been edited for clarity and brevity)
MODERATOR: Good afternoon everyone. We're pleased to have with us today Ron Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick, Inc., and his crew chief, Rick Ren. They are getting ready to go to Bristol the day after tomorrow and we are thankful that they are taking a few minutes to be with us on the teleconference today.
Ron, let me ask you first, your previous championships went right down to the wire with very close championship races and this is another year that's looking like the same kind of scenario. What do you look forward to and what do you anticipate for the rest of the season as we get started on what is comparable to our "Chase."
RON HORNADAY: I wish we could see into the future. The way the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is and with what NASCAR has done with the rules, it's going to come right down to the wire again. Mike Skinner is tough and hTravis) Kvapil is really running strong right now, so we're just going to have to depend on Rick Ren and all of the guys at Kevin Harvick, Incorporated to make sure they cross their T's and dot their I's. When we unload we have to have a fast truck and make the right decisions. We've been unfortunate this year that we've been doing that so it's been pretty exciting so far and we've just got to keep trying to put ourselves in position to win and if we do that, the points will fall where they fall.
MODERATOR: Good luck with that for the rest of the season. Rick, you were one of the teams that tested at Bristol last month. Tell us what you found. What's new or different or the same about Bristol and the new surface.
RICK REN: Well the only thing that really looked the same is when you pulled in and looked at it from setting the race truck up. It drives quite a bit different. It does get better with rubber. The more rubber we lay down, the better the track got which is kind of similar to the past. The banking is quite different where they put a little bit of the "progressive," as you would call it, into the corner has changed the way the race truck sees the corner when it hits the corner. It drives quite a bit tighter than it did with the old surface.
Q: Ron, you've had a chance for a year now to work with a boy from down here on the Gulf Coast -- Mobile's Cale Gale. How has his progression been with you guys and what do you look forward from him for next year?
RON HORNADAY: Well he's actually going to be running one of our Camping World trucks at Bristol this weekend. The kid's got a lot of talent. I appreciate working with him. He's a kid that asks questions. He's not one of those kids who thinks he knows it all. He has a lot of respect for his elders and the guys he races with. He's learning each week and every time we go out he gets faster and faster, so I think he's progressed. Sometimes I think we held him back on some of the trucks we gave him or some of the cars, so right now he's got a chance to go up there and test with one of our trucks and they're taking another one back there and Wally Rogers is actually going to go up there with him this weekend so he's got a good opportunity to run well this weekend.
Q: Wednesday night at Bristol -- there's a lot of talk about side-by-side racing with the new surface. Do you see that happening as soon as Wednesday night?
RON HORNADAY: We're going to know more tomorrow. We have an open test tomorrow. When I first got up there, there was a lot of dust on the track and right away I went to the high side because of the higher banking. It definitely drives different like Rick Ren said earlier. You have to get out of the gas a lot sooner and you have to let the truck roll a lot farther than you ever have. Usually you clip the banking getting in the corner and off the corner. Now, the way they've surfaced it down there, there's nothing down there. So, it looks like you'll be running the middle of the track to the top, so whoever's got their truck to run on the bottom is going to do real good and so it should be two-wide racing.
Q: I was wondering if both of you can address that the group at KHI has at Bristol. Ron, you've won. Rick, you've won. Rick Carelli who is now the General Manager -- just talk about the history of you three guys in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and your success at Bristol and how that may play into Wednesday's race.
RICK REN: Well, it's kind of good to have a bunch of guys who can put their heads together. Ron is good there, I've had a pretty good career there, Rick Carelli has been there and he's our spotter, so you've got eyes from the infield, eyes on the race track and eyes above looking. If you put all that together and we sit down and talk, we usually come up with pretty good ideas, so I think we have a really good package with the three of us even though we're the "elder statesmen," you might say, in the Truck Series, but I think it works pretty well.
RON HORNADAY: And you have to take into consideration Carelli and I and Rick Ren have all won in Chevrolets there and we have another Chevrolet going back this week.
Q: This weekend, as we did in Nashville, Craftsman is posting an $8,000 bonus for the leader of lap 80 in honor of the 80th anniversary of the brand. Ron, you're not going to be paying much attention to that while you're in the truck I imagine, but Rick, does that make a difference in how you manage the race, manage the pit stops, and is that a strategy factor for you?
RICK REN: It's a note on the pit box. It was on my mind at Nashville but we were not in a position to be in the hunt to lead that lap at that time, but hopefully we are this week. We won't know until we get into the race, but it is a note, it is a factor. $8,000 is a lot of money. If it doesn't alter our shot at winning the race, yes, we would like to lead the 80th lap. But if it comes down to pit strategy, that will not be a factor.
RON HORNADAY: I was fortunate enough to win the 100th race when Craftsman put up $100,000. Anyone who wants to give free money away, we'll take it, but we're in it for the points and the glory right now.
Q: Ron, you guys have had a very successful season. You're second in points, but the Chevrolets don't look like they're doing too well this year. What do you think puts your group ahead of all the rest?
RON HORNADAY: Kevin Harvick, Incorporated. When they hired Rick Ren. He's the one who helped get everything going and put the right people in the right places where our hands were tied in the past a little bit. Our sponsor, Camping World, came on board and gave us the funds and everything we needed to do that with. Wally Rogers and all of the guys started up here on a small budget and put a lot of good trucks and a lot of good people in place. With Rick coming up here, he's kind of watched what I've done and brought some notes of what he's used before, it's working a little bit so we're just going to say that we've started off to a great year. Last year with cutting a tire at Daytona and then breaking a carburetor shaft, I mean, that's what we've got to do. Rick Ren really gets on the guys and talks about being prepared and getting ready so that when we unload we have the best test session there, we have the best practice, we qualify good and we race good and that's what it takes. He's been crossing T's and dotting I's and that's what we need to do to try and win a championship.
Q: A month ago you guys were a long way away from having a title shot. Now you've got Hornaday within striking distance. What do you need to do to move to the top spot?
RON HORNADAY: What do you want to hear? We've already got a rivalry going, a small one, so we can't start too much right now. It's going to take someone messing up. If Skinner and I go out there beating and banging, you've got Kvapil there and if those two start doing that, you've got me there. Right now it's Mike Skinner's to lose and we're going to be there knocking at his door and we're going to do everything we have to do to give him the pressure so he does mess up.
Q: How important is qualifying at Bristol, whether it's the old surface or the new surface? Or will the new surface change how important it is to be up front when you qualify?
RICK REN: As far as old Bristol, it was all about qualifying. The new Bristol is yet to see, but you still have to go by your notes. That race track was always very hard to pass. Pit road was always -- pit selection is huge, so basically we don't know what's going to unfold until we run this race. Right now going in there, qualifying is important because of track position and pit selection, so I can't see that it's going to be different than in the past, but we'll let you know when the checkered flag falls.
Q: I happen to know that both of you guys live on Lake Norman here in Mooresville, about four or five miles apart by water. Who has the faster boat?
RICK REN: We both have the same brand. Mine's outboard, his is inboard. We haven't run them side by side yet. I'm thinking the inboard would have a little advantage over me.
MODERATOR: Ron and Rick, thank you very much for giving us your time this afternoon and best of luck this week at Bristol.
RON HORNADAY: Thank you very much. We have to thank Craftsman and everything they do for us so we can have a great series to run in. It's an honor to go out there and try to run for our third championship. I just have to thank Rick Ren and everybody at KHI who is really working hard on these Chevy Silverados.