Hornaday Earns ARCA Atlanta Checkers Hampton, Georgia, 11-20-99, by Don Radebaugh â€“ Two-time NASCAR Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, in preparation for the NASCAR Busch Series in 2000, earned precious seat-time Saturday afternoon at the ...
Hornaday Earns ARCA Atlanta Checkers
Hampton, Georgia, 11-20-99, by Don Radebaugh – Two-time NASCAR Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, in preparation for the NASCAR Busch Series in 2000, earned precious seat-time Saturday afternoon at the Atlanta Motor Speedway as well as a convincing victory in the ARCA Georgia Boot 400.
Making his first ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series start, Hornaday, in the Dale Earnhardt-owned NAPA Chevrolet, finished 4.366 seconds ahead of polesitter Derrick Gilchrist who, in his first ARCA start, finished second in Andy Petree’s Oakwood Homes Chevrolet. Former ARCA champion Frank Kimmel rolled home third in Larry Clements Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet while ’99 Kendall Indiana Late Model Series champion Brian Ross, in his fourth ARCA start, hustled his Damon’s-Biomet Chevrolet from the 18th starting position to fourth in the final running order recording his career-best ARCA finish. USAC open-wheel champion Jason Leffler, also in his first ARCA start, completed the top five in Joe Gibb’s MBNA Pontiac.
Hornaday, who led three times for 94 laps, took the lead for good on lap 101 of the 162 lap contest and steadily drove away from the field to become the 13th different winner in ARCA competition this year as well as the eighth first-time winner after 21 events. “Dale Earnhardt Incorporated built this car for Steve Park,” explained Hornaday after the race. “We tested it 25 laps. I’ve got to give credit to the guys in the shop and my crew here at the track. You’re only as good as your team. The NAPA team was great today. You can test all you want but it’s not the same as when you ride side-by-side and three-wide coming off turn four. It’s a lot of fun to come here having never been here before and win. You’ve got to respect this track. I’ll tell you what, I respect it, and it’s a thrill to win here.”
David Keith, in the Mayfield-Kranefuss Kmart Ford, was strongest from the start and led commandingly for 32 laps before the Mooresville, North Carolina driver, because of a cut right-rear tire, hit the wall off turn two. Blaise Alexander was next in line to take control and led 31 circuits before Hornaday raced his way into the lead. Darrell Lanigan, from the 15th starting position, then mounted his impressive charge, erased Hornaday’s five-second advantage, and challenged for the top spot. Lanigan, with the quickest car for the moment, continued to harass the eventual winner until a broken valve stopped his stout effort 57 laps from the finish. From there, Alexander appeared to be the only other significant threat to Hornaday until his ignition failed on the 133rd lap. With Keith, Lanigan and Alexander gone from the mix, Hornaday handily kept his machine up front until the checkered flag fell.
Billy Venturini, in the Permatex Chevrolet, finished sixth in front of ’99 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series champion Bill Baird who struggled much of the afternoon with engine woes but still finished seventh, the last car on the lead lap. “We ran great,” said Baird. “Unfortunately, we lost the cylinder a third of the way into the race and had to run on seven. But we had a good car. The year’s over – finally. We ran 21 races and had 17 top 10 finishes. I wish everything could have stayed together, but overall, if we could have run on eight I think we could have won today.” Rich Woodland raced the Dunlop Golf Chevrolet across the final stripe in eighth. Mike Swaim, Jr., in the Xlerator Pontiac, finished ninth and Jeff Finley, in Jack Bowsher’s Zinsser Paints Ford, rounded out the top ten with the highest finishing Ford. Soddy Daisy, Tennessee’s Ron Cox, with a 16th place finish in his family-owned All Star Embroidery-Single Source Chevrolet, secured the STP-Prestone ARCA Rookie of the Year honors.
Dill Whittymore, in his Mt. Olive Pickles Chevrolet, won the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions, from 37th to 14th. Hornaday picked up $23,370 for the victory including the Auto Value Parts Stores Halfway leader award.
Final ’99 Point Standings: Bill Baird 5920, Frank Kimmel 5275, Bobby Gerhart 4890, Joe Cooksey 4855, Mark Gibson 4630, Andy Belmont 4450, Bob Schacht 4410, Ron Cox 4335, Cavin Councilor 4250, Norm Benning 4135.