The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) got its start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) in the spring of 1995 and after a repave and slight reconfiguration in the fall of 2011; it was a fresh start all over again. The newly revamped one-mile oval proved a challenge for the 36-truck field as they experienced eight caution periods and one red flag in just 150 laps. Ron Hornaday survived the first four incidents before being collected in the fifth caution of the night. Although he did have to make a trip behind the wall to repair major damage, the Joe Denette Motorsports (JDM) crew got the No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet back out for the final stages of the event and rallied for a 22nd-place finish.
In the first of two NCWTS Thursday afternoon practice sessions, Hornaday reported the No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet was 'wicked loose on entry,' but good both through and off the corners. Crew chief Doug Howe opted to make some major changes to the front end of Hornaday's Silverado. The No. 9 truck ended the session 23rd on the charts with a time of 28.816 (124.931 mph).
The second and final NCWTS practice session of the evening was slowed multiple times by rain. However, rain isn't the only thing that brought out the yellow flag in the session. Throughout both sessions, many trucks made contact with the outside walls of the tricky D-shaped oval as they attempted to find their limits. These struggles eventually became foreshadowing for the 150-lap, Friday night event.
Once the rain cleared and Hornaday was able to make a solid run he put the No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet 15th on the board. Hornaday told the JDM crew it was a little free through the center and off the corners. A few quick adjustments sent Hornaday to 10th on the charts before another rain delay. In his next run Hornaday moved up to the 9th position, saying he was happy with the handling of his machine. At the end of the session Hornaday was scored 19th with a time of 27.106 (132.812 mph).
Hornaday was the 20th qualifier in the Lucas Oil 150 time trials on Friday afternoon. With a fast lap of 26.973 (133.467 mph) Hornaday immediately shot to the top of the charts and only complained that his No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet was a little tight. Hornaday's quick lap secured his starting spot on the outside of the fifth row, in the 10th position.
After making his eighth top-10 start of the year, Hornaday reported that his No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet was loose in the early stages of the Lucas Oil 150 and fell back to the 17th position by lap 10. As the laps continued on, Hornaday found that his No. 9 machine tightened up at the end of a run and worked his way up to 14th by lap 30.
When the first caution of the event waved at lap 37 of 150 for an accident in turn four, Doug Howe called Hornaday, who was scored 14th on the leaderboard, to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The No. 3 machine of Austin Dillon opted for two tires on the stop and Hornaday would restart from the 15th position at lap 41. As three more consecutive cautions followed, Hornaday stayed out of trouble and eventually made his way up to 9th for a lap 64 restart.
Unfortunately that was as high on the leaderboard as Hornaday was able to climb in the No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet. Hornaday was collected in an accident between NCWTS regulars Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Johnny Sauter at lap 66 where he sustained heavy front-end damage and minor right-rear damage. Hornaday was forced behind the wall for repairs.
Being the well-rounded racing veteran that he is, Hornaday wasted no time in exiting his No. 9 Chevy and helping the JDM crew make the necessary repairs to get him back out on the track. After a complete team effort in the garage, Hornaday rejoined the field with 47 laps remaining in the 150-lap Lucas Oil 150.
When he returned, the Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet was scored 25th, 38 laps down to the race-leader. Hornaday survived three more caution periods and a green-white-checkered-flag finish to bring the No. 9 Silverado home in the 22nd position.
Brian Scott captured his first NCWTS victory of the season in the Lucas Oil 150 over rookie Kyle Larson, Joey Coulter, Timothy Peters and Ryan Blaney.
Ron Hornaday Quotes: "The guys worked really hard this weekend getting this truck dialed-in and we laid down a good lap for qualifying. I wasn't happy with the air pressures at the beginning of that first run because I was too loose but towards the end of the run they would tighten up and we were pretty decent. Unfortunately, we just got caught up in the 13 and 30's mess. The 30 got the 13 sideways and then I was sideways trying to miss it and the 32 clipped us in the nose. I'm proud of my guys for working so hard and getting us back out so quickly. Because of it, we were able to gain a few more positions. It's an understatement to say the kind of year we have had, but nice to see that no one has given up."
joe Denette Motorsports