BUSCH: Dover II: Ron Hornaday preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 21, 2004) - ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday comes into this Saturday's MBNA 200 at Dover International Speedway with a great amount of confidence. Now if he could only get that darn monkey off his...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 21, 2004) - ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday comes into this Saturday's MBNA 200 at Dover International Speedway with a great amount of confidence. Now if he could only get that darn monkey off his back.

Over the last six races, Hornaday feels like he just can't catch a break. After nearly winning the race at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 24, and moving up to third in points, the ACDelco team has been in a tailspin. His average finish since New Hampshire is 22nd and he has tumbled down to sixth in points. "We just haven't been very good when we have unloaded lately," said Hornaday. "We tried a lot of new (research and development) things with the cars and they haven't worked. Our plan is to get back to basics."

If there was ever a good track to get back to what works, it is Dover International Speedway. In the spring race, Hornaday posted his second straight top-five qualifying run at the one-mile concrete track. He was fast in practice and ran in the fifth position during the race, until he got bumped into the turn one wall on lap 14, ending his day. But it was the lingering anger and frustration from that race that propelled Hornaday and his ACDelco team to a great summer run, which included one win (Milwaukee), three top-fives and six straight top-10 finishes. "We left Dover feeling like we needed to show everyone that we weren't going to be pushed around," said Hornaday. "You could see the pride in the guys. It was really awesome."

But somewhere along the line things changed again for the ACDelco team. Hornaday ran poorly at tracks he dominated in the past. It started at Pikes Peak International Raceway where Hornaday unloaded very poorly and finished 11th. It was Hornaday's first time to finish outside the top-10 at that track. He again struggled off the truck and then got caught up in a turn four crash at Indianapolis Raceway Park and finished 35th. And so on and so on. The monkey had climbed on board and has yet to jump off. "I feel like we have this monkey on our back and whatever we do, we can't shake it off," said Hornaday. "The plan is to get back to basics and not over think the car. We are coming back to Dover with the same setup and I think if we can unload strong, we will race strong."

Points of Interest...

* Dover Track Stat...ACDelco driver Ron Hornaday has posted top-10 qualifying efforts in four straight races at Dover International Speedway. In his last two races at the track, Hornaday has back-to-back fifth place starting positions.

* Last race at Dover....The spring race at Dover did not go the way Hornaday and the rest of his RCR team expected. After qualifying fifth, Hornaday felt it was his best chance ever to get a win at "The Monster Mile." However, those expectations were quickly erased when Greg Biffle got into the back of the ACDelco Monte Carlo on lap 14 sending Hornaday into the wall. After rain forced the race to be red flagged until Monday morning, Hornaday's crew patched the "blue deuce" back together and Hornaday finished the race 29th.

* You have to first finish...At Richmond International Raceway Speedway two weeks ago; Hornaday extended his NASCAR Busch Series record for consecutive races without a DNF. The ACDelco Chevrolet has been running at the end of 65 straight races. The last DNF for Hornaday was an engine failure at Kansas Speedway in 2002.

* What ya' Haulin'...The ACDelco transporter will unload chassis No. 019 at Dover International Speedway. It last saw action at California Speedway on September 4, 2004. Hornaday finished 29th in that event after breaking a front suspension part while running in the top-10. The crew was able to fix the problem but lost several laps in the process.

* Green-White-Hornaday...Ron Hornaday scored seven of his NASCAR Truck Series record 26 wins via green-white-checkered (G-W-C) finishes. He has the most wins of any driver in NASCAR under this finishing format. He won 70% of all G-W-C finishes he was involved in.

No. 2 ACDelco driver Ron Hornaday on Dover International Speedway...

You had a great car (chassis No. 027) at Dover in June. What are your thoughts on chassis No. 019 this weekend?

"I talked to Butch (Hylton, crew chief) at the shop this week and he says that this car is better than the one we raced at Dover in the spring. This is the California car we raced a few weeks ago and honestly, it was the best car I had driven in a while. If we can get it to handle and feel the way it did out in Fontana, CA., than I think we could have a great day."

Looking back at the spring race and the crash...What was the most frustrating thing you recall?

"I think the fact that we got turned on lap 14. It was so early in the race and I had been working Johnny Sauter for fourth for about five laps. I kept thinking about sticking my nose under him in turn one, but didn't because it was just too early in the race to do something like that. But Greg (Biffle) watched that battle and saw that I was being cautious. He had caught us, because Johnny was holding me up. So he stuck his nose under me when we were already to the corner. It was really late (on the frontstrech) for something like that at Dover. After seeing the replay, I think he realized he had screwed up and he got on the brakes hard. That pushed him up the track and right into me. There was nothing I could do to save it. We hit pretty hard. What bothered me is that he doesn't usually make those mistakes. He's a talented NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver. I just didn't expect that from him on lap 14. It was easily the best car I had ever had at Dover."

ACDelco crew chief Butch Hylton on Dover International Speedway...

What are your thoughts about racing at Dover this weekend?

"I hope the weekend is better than the first one we had there this year. I think we found a setup at Dover that Ron likes and I will be interested to see if it will change a lot for this race. If we can stay out of trouble, I think we can look forward to a top-five finish."

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Johnny Sauter