RON HORNADAY, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX: ON GETTING OFF TO A STRONG START IN 2001 "I've just been going out there and running the best I can. These guys have been working pretty hard for the past year to get the cars, bodies and ...
RON HORNADAY, NO. 14 CONSECO PONTIAC GRAND PRIX:
ON GETTING OFF TO A STRONG START IN 2001
"I've just been going out there and running the best I can. These guys have been working pretty hard for the past year to get the cars, bodies and people situated. I fell into a great opportunity to drive for A.J. Everything has been working our way right now. We're only a couple races into it and we've got a long season to go, but I'm really happy with the way we're working together and stuff like that."
DID YOU EXPECT TO START THIS WELL?
"I'd hoped so. That's what we were shooting for. Top 10s lead to top fives, and top fives lead to wins. You can set your goals, but there is only one guy that knows what can happen and that's The Lord. I just take it day by day. I guess my motto is, 'Live every day like it's Saturday.' That's what you've got to do and just take what you get."
CAN YOU WIN A RACE THIS YEAR?
"There is no doubt about it, but you've got to have everything perfect. It's got to be the best pit stops, it's got to be the best tires, it's got to be the best motor, it's got to be the best car and the best driver that day. If the circumstances are there, you can win a race."
WHERE DO YOU THINK THAT WIN WILL COME?
"I think every race we to go we've got an opportunity to. If you don't think that way, you shouldn't be racing. If you're going out there just to ride around you might as well just go back into go-karts or something. Right now, I feel like we can win any given day. We've got a good enough car.
"I'm disappointed with myself in qualifying yesterday. I thought the car would be better than that, but time-wise we're not very far off the pole. It's just a matter of getting that one perfect lap. For being here the first time in a [Winston] Cup car, it's exciting. I feel with [crew chief] Philippe's (Philippe Lopez's) knowledge and Fred Graves and this whole Conseco Pontiac team, it's around the corner. Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. did it. Matt Kenseth did it. I don't see why I can't."
HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR APPROACH AT ALL THIS YEAR SINCE COMING TO WINSTON CUP?
"I just have to get up earlier for the rookie meetings, I guess. I haven't changed anything, yet. But, I know I'll have to."
WHAT WAS LAST FALL LIKE GOING FROM LOSING YOUR BUSCH RIDE TO PICKING UP THIS WINSTON CUP RIDE?
"It was a heartbreaker. I gave Dale and Teresa [Earnhardt] six years of 120 percent effort every time I got behind the wheel. With the way things were going, I just never thought the thing would end. Then, reality set in. But I guess I have to go back six years ago to that phone call from Dale. You get a lot of highs and lows in life. You think you climbed the biggest hill and all of a sudden you hit the muddy spot and you slide all the way to the bottom. I've quit racing a few times, just to chase building race cars for other people. My wife got me back into it by saving money and bought tires. When we did that we got hooked up with Wayne Spears and ran all those 'Winter Heat' shows, and Dale gave me that phone call. It was exciting."
"When Dale released me, I think reality set in. I never had a real reason why I got let go. It shocked me. It hit me hard and I said some things I shouldn't have said. By the time I thought about it, I went back and Dale and I talked. He said, 'Is there anything I can do to get you in anywhere that you want to go. I got some great Busch offers - good money rides. When A.J. called me I was like, 'Hey, I didn't even know the car was going to be open.' I think a lot of people talked to him. Then, when Tommy [Lamance] and A.J. talking to Dale, Dale said, 'He's got his faults. But when it's all said and done, you'll be glad that he drove your car.'
"I think that's a plus that Dale helped me get into this ride. I wanted to go Winston Cup racing. It's been a dream of mine that came true.
"Dale and Teresa got me to Daytona for the first time for the Busch race, but A.J. Foyt got me into my first Daytona 500."