NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and team owner Kevin Harvick. The Kevin Harvick, Inc. team has one win this season (Atlanta) and is currently sixth in points. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ...
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday (No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet) and team owner Kevin Harvick. The Kevin Harvick, Inc. team has one win this season (Atlanta) and is currently sixth in points.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series returns to action this Friday, June 3 at Dover International Speedway for the MBNA Points 200. The race is scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m. ET.
Q: Ron, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has been celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and Dover marks the Series' 250th race. You're a two-time champion and hold the Series record for the most wins (27). You were with the Series when it first started and have now returned to the Series. What are your thoughts on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and how far it has come in 10 years?
RON HORNADAY: Craftsman themselves with NASCAR as a team, when they said they were going to Daytona I really didn't think it was going to even happen. I got an opportunity the following year -- the second year they ran Daytona - went around the track about five laps and got out and went over and praised NASCAR and Craftsman for what they had done with this truck series. The different venues and tracks they are going to is unbelievable. When we started out, the biggest track we went to was a mile, and now we're racing two-and-a-half-mile race tracks. It's come a long way. The fan support and all the sponsors we have right now. It's unbelievable what this truck series could do.
Q: Kevin, you got your start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and now you are building your own race team in the truck series. Talk a little bit about what the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series means to you and Kevin Harvick, Inc.
KEVIN HARVICK: It's meant a lot to my career. My father and I built our first truck back in 1995, and ran it at Bakersfield. Then in 1996 we ran a couple more races, and then I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity with Wayne Spears (owner of the No. 75 truck) and drive his truck. Everything just kept kind of leap frogging through the truck series and then was fortunate enough to move on to Busch and Cup. The truck series is definitely what I feel got my career going in the right direction, and I always feel like that's a place I want to be a part of and have a team. That's why we started this team. I hadn't won a truck race. We came and built our own trucks and went out and won a couple of races, and now Ron (Hornaday) has won a race for us already this year. So we're excited to be a part of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and to have GM Goodwrench and everybody and Chevrolet behind us. It's a lot of fun to be part of is the main thing.
Q: How much more competitive is the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series now than when you started in 1995?
RON HORNADAY: When we first started the Series, everybody seemed to want to make a name for themselves so they could go on to a different division. Right now, everybody in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series don't need to make a name for themselves -- they have a name. They just want to win. So when the green flag drops, its 200 laps of racing. Green flag to checkered flag, they race like they are qualifying. The competition level -- with the sponsors we have, the owners we have -- everybody wants to win. So, we've got to go out there and do our jobs. If it's on top of the wheel every lap, then that's what we've got to do.
Q: Talk about all the former Cup regulars that are in the Series now. A lot of them say they like the schedule with fewer races. They say they are having more fun and enjoy having more time away from the track. Is that something you have found also?
RON HORNADAY: I think it stinks. I would rather race every weekend. (laugh) I don't want to retire yet. I love racing. Kevin and Delana have given me a great opportunity to get back into it with a competitive truck. Sitting back, chomping at the bit, waiting for the next race -- I think the next six weeks we're really going to see what we're made of. We're really excited. I just wish that we had a few more races.
Q: Many drivers say that you are the best in all of NASCAR on restarts, so much so that it may have cost you the victory at Mansfield. What is it that makes you so good at restarts and have you always been so good at it?
RON HORNADAY: I definitely got robbed at Mansfield. You can't say anything about it. That's just part of it. It looked bad. Bobby Hamilton knows what he has done as the driver behind me. It's just the guys you are racing against. Where I started in Saugus, California, and in Bakersfield, the fast guys always had to go to the back and only had so many laps to get to the front. Just watching the guys -- how their noses drop or how their cars squat to get on the gas. I've just been fortunate enough to know what the flagger is going to do and have a great spotter when the green comes out and got a little bit of a hole.
Q: Would you like to see NASCAR make some kind of change as far as the two lines on the restart and make that more of a definitive thing?
RON HORNADAY: No, it doesn't matter. It's their sand box. We've got to play by their rules. I did the same thing at Watkins Glen. Boris Said said they had a carburetor problem. When it looks bad, it looks bad. You've got to play the game, and that's part of it. I've been racing for 24 to 25 years now, and that's only twice I have been caught at it so the rules are just fine, I think.
Q: There's so much talk about Kevin Harvick as a driver, talk about him as a team owner and as your boss man.
RON HORNADAY: What happens here, stays here. (Laugh) In my career, I've been fortunate enough to drive for the best. And this is just a compliment to myself to get to drive for Kevin and Delana (Harvick). They're racers. They give me the equipment to win with. Wally (Rogers -- crew chief) believes in me, and I believe in the whole team. When we unload, you're wide open. You have no doubts about what's underneath you. Kevin has put the right people in place, and Wally's hired the right guys underneath him. And they believe in me. It's just fun to race right now. When you go out there and have the equipment you have and an owner that smiles when you make it three wide or you put a scratch on the truck, that's the best.
Q: Aggressiveness is what Kevin Harvick said he wanted from you as a driver. Has it played out that way? Do you fear nothing?
RON HORNADAY: Kevin hired a couple of more fabricators for me, but I think we are using them for Tony (Stewart -- driver of the KHI Busch car) this weekend. But other than that, we've run good everywhere we have been right now. This six-week stretch, we're really going to see what this team's made of. I'm looking forward to it. I can answer this question more toward the end of the year.
Q: Kevin, how does managing the team with established drivers work?
KEVIN HARVICK: To be honest with you, it makes it easier. When you have good drivers, you don't have to worry about where your drivers are. You know they are going to get the job done. We just have to come home and keep working on our cars and trucks, and make sure we have the people in the right place. We've been fortunate to get good people and good crew chiefs and good drivers, and that makes life a lot easier. It's been a lot of fun. I enjoy being at the shop, and doing the things that happen in and around the shop. It's kind of a time that I get to blow off some steam, and keep my mind away from the Cup car and everything that is going on there. There's a lot of pressure on the Cup side, and this is just kind of a pressure reliever for me.
Q: Your career and the rise NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has been intertwined, how do you feel about 250th race at Dover? Is this a milestone that you are looking forward to, glad to be involved with?
RON HORNADAY: I'm glad you brought that. I won the 100th race of the Craftsman Truck Series (and won $100,000), so are they going to put some money up for this race? (Laugh) My compliments to Craftsman for sticking in it and seeing where NASCAR was going to take the truck series. To be 250 races old, it will be pretty cool. Hopefully, we can go out there and win this one.
Q: What are your thoughts about NASCAR's interest in coming to New York City?
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't think there are any drawbacks to be honest with you. Everything about New York is appealing to everything that we do -- trying to gain a fan base, a lot of our sponsors have offices there. I don't think there is a drawback. Hopefully we can get rid of one of the Pocono races because that's not one of my favorite places and replace it with that. It would be good for the sport and definitely good for all the sponsors.
Q: Do you think schedule wise, have you reached your limit of what it is possible to do in terms of adding another race?
KEVIN HARVICK: I think we could add another race if we got rid of the All-Star race. I think that's kind of a waste of time. It tears up a lot of race cars, and really just kind of a waste of a weekend for the race teams. It doesn't mean anything toward the end of the year, and it doesn't mean anything towards what we do. So I think there are some places that don't sell-out that we could move stuff around. I don't think anymore dates is necessarily the answer.
Q: Talk about backlash from the fans in reference to NASCAR drivers.
KEVIN HARVICK: Fans are going to cheer and they're going to boo. That's what makes our sport go around. When things are going good, they're going to cheer. And when things are going bad, they're not. I really try to pay as little attention as I can to the media and people and the things that are going on just to try to keep my life going in a straight line. You can get yourself so twisted out of shape by paying attention to those things. Everybody in this sport is vulnerable to those types of situations.
Q: Has this year been more difficult than years past for you personally?
KEVIN HARVICK: No, I think most of it comes from questions like this and getting things stirred in the wrong direction. I really don't think...I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to what's been going on. I go out and be myself and do things and let you guys make the stories about how you want to write it.
Q: Let's go back to the Atlanta NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. With two laps to go, there was a caution and Kevin, you got nervous. Since Hornaday went on to win the race, have you had another second's doubt or did that go on to solidify this team's ability with you.
KEVIN HARVICK: I don't think I had any doubt that they could do it. I just thought that on that particular day, I thought we had had our opportunity slip by us. Then they came back and got the lead. I didn't have any doubts in the abilities. But when you're sitting up there, and you're sitting there watching the race and you don't have control of anything that is going on you always think about the worst case scenario. I'm a pretty nervous owner, especially in that position. I figured that out that night. That was a whole lot less fun watching than it was driving. It made it exciting. Ron always makes it exciting, and that's why we've got him driving.
Q: Does Kevin let you know what he's thinking or is he always being a cheerleader?
RON HORNADAY: I don't think I heard anything from him all night other than a practical joke on a yellow flag. I guess our biggest cheerleader is Rick Carrelli, my spotter. We had to keep him quiet a little bit. We had to give him pom-poms because he was up there cheerleading. Rick and Kevin and myself go way back, racing the Southwest Tour together. We're fortunate enough to have him over here, trying to run the shop with Kevin and the guys. Kevin is actually the perfect owner. I thought it was really cool when I got to see the pictures (from the Atlanta race) with Kevin's head down when I was racing. I had fun and he got to suffer for it.
Q: Your thoughts headed into Dover.
RON HORNADAY: I really love Dover. We run good there. I'm just really looking forward to the green flag dropping. I know Wally's going to give me the best piece he can. The GM Goodwrench truck is looking good. They're getting chassis dyno-ed right now. RCR's going to give us the best horsepower. So it's all up to me now to go out there and win the race.