RON HORNADAY, JR., No. 33 COPART Silverado and crew chief Rick Ren, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, last week's incident with Matt Crafton and other topics. CAN...
RON HORNADAY, JR., No. 33 COPART Silverado and crew chief Rick Ren, met with members of the media at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and discussed racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, last week's incident with Matt Crafton and other topics.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STREAKS THAT YOU BOTH HAVE COMING INTO THIS RACE? RON, YOU WILL BE GOING FOR THREE STRAIGHT WINS AT NEW HAMPSHIRE AND RICK, YOU WILL BE GOING FOR FOUR STRAIGHT WINS HERE:
Hornaday: "I don't know what it is about this place, but I really like it. Rick (Ren, crew chief) has been giving me some great trucks. Over the years it looks like I've struggled here and I think that one race I won here, I didn't have a chance to win it and I think Jack Sprague and Joe Ruttman got together coming off turn four. I remember that race because Ernie Irvan was in it and a lot of the big Cup guys were in it.
That was a heck of a year. I still have that truck on the side of my garage when you walk in my garage and everybody wants to know what it's about. It's got a picture of all the guys sitting on the back of the truck. That was probably one of the memorable moments here of winning that race. I think we went a lap down and came back to win the race. It's just been a fun race track, I love it and Kevin (Harvick, team owner) and Delana (Harvick, team owner) have given us an opportunity to build the right trucks and we have another brand new piece here this weekend and I'm looking forward to it."
Ren: "That's pretty cool. It's kind of neat to get to the top of your field at whatever level you want to participate in. This race track for me has also been really good. Have won here with three different drivers. I just love racing here. Came here in the inaugural race back in 1990, I was telling some of the kids with me this morning that we came in here on a Wednesday and we were going to race on a Saturday. The grandstands weren't built and there was no asphalt in the infield, there's no asphalt around the grandstands and we pull in here and they said we were going to race. I was like, 'Right.' They worked around the clock, had light towers on, 24 hour crews paving all night long. Saturday we raced. The infield was paved, the grandstands were paved and I remember the old story and I don't know if it's true, but they said that when he went to build the suites over there, they said the state says you can't build suites because there's no safety equipment in the area to do that. So he bought a fire truck with a ladder and asked what the next problem was. That just shows how the Bahre Family did things when they built this place. I just love it here, it's just awesome."
WHAT IS YOUR EVALUATION OF MATT CRAFTON'S TACTICS AT GATEWAY?
Hornaday: "I never worried about what happened to (Todd) Bodine or anybody else like that. We look at our team and that's what we worry about and we race with like that. I don't know how you look at it that way -- we got wrecked and that's all there is to it. We just went out there and raced as hard as we could and all they did was put a fire underneath us. That's why Rick (Ren, crew chief) and those guys went back Sunday and worked all day and through Sunday night to put a brand new truck together. We lost some points, we're going to have to gain them back. At Dover we blew a right-front tire and lost the points lead there. We worked hard to get the points lead that we had so we're going to have to work even harder now to get the point lead again."
WILL YOU RACE MATT CRAFTON HARDER AT THE END OF THE RACE NOW?
Hornaday: "I'm going to race him harder. I'm not going to go out and wreck him and all that stuff, but I'm going to race him hard. That's all there is to it. That's why the truck series is tough trucks, tough drivers. Pretty sore, a little beat up. I just found out that it was 68 G's left side impact so that was a pretty big hit and looking forward to racing here. I can't worry about one guy, there's 35 other guys that we have to race against.
If I start racing against one guy, we're going to have the next guy come up there to win the championship. We're a championship caliber team. I blame myself for not getting a good restart, I gave him the outside, but just have to go out there and race as hard as we can."
WHAT IS THE TRICK TO BEING 50 YEARS OLD AND AT THE TOP OF THE POINTS STANDINGS LIKE MARK MARTIN?
Hornaday: "10 years ago, Rick (Ren, crew chief) and I probably couldn't have raced against each other because we both have our own ways. I learned a long time ago that I'm just a driver and I can't do it all and I have to depend on crew chiefs and stuff. You don't hear me ever tell Rick Ren to change a right-front spring, a left-rear spring or anything. I just tell him what the truck is feeling like and what it's doing and Rick (Ren) makes them calls for us. I'm very privileged to have Rick (Ren) and myself at the age that we are, knowing what we're capable of doing. All I know is that my kids are grown up now. I don't have to worry about going racing and whether they are going to be driving my cars or throwing parties at the house so I am having a lot more fun racing now than I ever have been and I have to thank Kevin (Harvick) and Delana (Harvick) for that. It's incredible to drive the equipment that we're driving with Mark Smith doing our motors and what Rick (Ren) and all those guys are putting together and the package of what KHI (Kevin Harvick Incorporated) is doing right now. It's just been a lot of fun and I'm going to ride it as far as I can. Like Delana (Harvick) says, I got a job forever so I'm having fun doing it."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WORK WITH A DRIVER WITH SO MUCH EXPERIENCE?
Ren: "You kind of attack your racing a little different and I also spend more time teaching our team how to be more of a team versus when you're working with a younger driver. Younger drivers have to learn or you have to teach them so much -- when to shift, when not to shift, how to watch the gauges, how to hit pit road. When you get with an experienced driver, of course you know with him (Ron Hornaday, Jr.), you already know at his age that he already knows all the basic functions it takes to race. A lot of young people, there's a lot of people that come into this sport at all three levels that really don't have any experience at racing. They're awfully young. Let alone now you're trying to teach them how to pit and everything else that you're also teaching them how to race. It's a lot easier on my side to work with an experienced race car driver."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT KEVIN HARVICK INCORPORATED THAT SETS IT APART FROM OTHER TRUCK SERIES OPERATIONS?
Hornaday: "It starts off on Monday mornings, having our meeting on Monday with Kevin (Harvick, team owner) and Delana (Harvick, team owner) both being there and knowing what it takes to run a team. It's just putting the people in the right places. You start all the way from the front office to Rick Carelli (general manager) in the back and the right people underneath of you. Kevin (Harvick) and Delana (Harvick) have given them the opportunity to hire the right people. This is Kevin (Harvick) and Delana's (Harvick) kids, they don't have any kids so they spend every minute they have in this racing. You don't hear us going in there complaining about Monday mornings. I don't even think the deal that happened with (Matt) Crafton this week came up. We have to worry about what we're bringing to this race. That was one of our good trucks and now we have to worry about what we have scheduled for the next seven races. That's all the stuff we talk about. He (Kevin Harvick) goes in there on Sundays and he knows more about this stuff than all of us put together because they look at everything they have and knowing what trucks we have and how many we can race and where we're going to race them at. He (Kevin Harvick) already has a plan before we get in there on Monday and he just puts his loving heart into racing and it makes my job easy. I don't have to go there and complain and say what happened to the team or an accident or why I didn't win. Just go make it better, we'll fix it and we'll go on."
Ren: "That's exactly right. When we leave the race track, I had a team meeting in the hauler before we left the race track the other day. It was not to talk about what just happened, it's to talk about what we have to do tomorrow to come to Loudon to try to race to win. Basically, when the checkered flag falls, as far as we're concerned, that race is over. Gateway was over when the checkered flag flew. We had a meeting in the hauler and we're talking about Loudon. In our Monday morning meeting, that's over. We talk about how did our pit stops go, how did our fuel stops go, we talk about if we had any issues with food or the hauler or anything like that. We don't talk about the last race.
That's our job to sit down and go through our notes and the next time we go to Gateway next year, I'll get those notes out again and say this is what we have to do to be better. We're always looking forward as a program, never looking backwards. As far as the competitiveness, we have very competitive people. Kevin (Harvick) and Delana (Harvick), I am going to speak for myself, they have allowed me to design the race trucks the way that we need to be competitive every week.
I have worked at programs where they kind of keep their thumb down on you and don't let you do this or do that. I know you have all had bosses that keep you from doing your job. They have hired people and they let us do our job."
DO YOU FIND THAT YOUNGER DRIVERS ARE COMING TO YOU FOR ADVICE OR MORE OF A MENTOR?
Hornaday: "I hope they do and you can usually tell the good ones like Colin Braun, where if he hasn't been to a track then he's usually over talking to me. He's talked to a lot of other drivers. That shows a good racer that really wants to learn instead of a kid coming in here thinking that he's better than them guys and go out there and try to do it. Brian Scott and there's a lot of young kids coming into this sport that I really appreciate them coming to me. That makes me feel better. I'm not the one out there who can really tell them how to do it. The first thing I tell them is to go out on the race track and tell me what you're feeling first. You have to know what they're feeling before you can answer a question. I think Mike Wallace came to me when he was driving for Kenny (Schrader) nine or 10 years ago at Richmond and he asked me what spring I had in the truck and he kind of looked at me like I was lying to him. When we were all done and said, I actually went a got the set up sheet and showed him what we had in it. I try to help people out. A lot of people don't drive like I do. A couple weeks ago somebody came and asked me what I did for qualifying and I told them and they didn't believe me. So if I tell them the truth, they won't believe you anyway so it won't matter."
Ren: "Over the years I've kind of been in the situation where people come and ask you for advice. I try to help out anyone that comes and asks. Am I just going to lay out my set-up sheets for everybody? No, I'm not going to do that, but when other crew chiefs come and ask for advice about maybe they're not getting along with their driver or where we are with our air pressures. I always try to help people out because if someone's coming to ask, that means they respect my judgement and I am willing to help them. I'm not just going to go out and blab it to everybody, but if someone comes and asks for advice, then I'm going to help them. I'm not going to lead them down a path. I had one very famous person in NASCAR come to me at Kansas last year and he didn't believe what I told him and I was with a Nationwide car.
When the race was all over the next day I kind of had words with him because I said, 'Listen, I'm not going to lie to you, I don't want to give you bad information. We don't need your vehicle wrecking on the race track while we're out there racing.
I'm not in this business to hurt anybody and I would rather help you.'
WOULD YOU HAVE HAD THE SAME REACTION TO PUT LAST WEEK'S SITUATION ITH WMATT CRAFTON BEHIND YOU IF IT HAPPENED 10 YEARS AGO?
Hornaday: "I hope it's experience. Not saying that he don't deserve one and maybe when I retire I build my own truck then I might get him back. It definitely hurt, but you can't win a championship by coming down here. I said it, I was a slow start and I didn't get into third gear all the way, I had to take an extra second and he got a good run on me. That's all I can say. It's got to be behind you. If I go out here and worry about one truck, I'm not going to win this championship. We have to look at the big picture and that's another incident. I can go last year of me wrecking on the first lap at Phoenix and then turn around and blame (Mike) Skinner for wrecking me at Mansfield. You can't blame one thing on anybody.
You just have to take the whole year and go from there and that was just one incident. We're just fortunate enough to still have the point lead and we're just going to try to capitalize on that. Them guys worked when we got home, they started on it and worked all day Sunday and all Sunday night and this is a brand new piece they brought. Hopefully it shows up on the race track."
HOW NICE IS IT TO COME TO NEW HAMPSHIRE AND TALK ABOUT RACING RATHER THAN DEFENDING YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY FROM A YEAR AGO?
Hornaday: "I was just saying that to my PR. She says, 'Hey, we have to go to the media center.' I said, 'For what?' Last year it was kind of tough to get over here and I was pretty nervous.
Unbelievable how things change, I feel a lot better and I don't know if you can tell, but I have a belly right now and I am feeling a lot better. Not as skinny as I was and I compliment NASCAR and all you folks with what you guys wrote and everything -- it was really big. A lot easier, not as nervous coming into this room as I was last year."
DO YOU THINK YOUR SUCCCESS AT YOUR AGE IS NORMAL IN NASCAR OR HAS THE YOUTH MOVEMENT GONE TO FAR THAT NOT THIS SEEMS ABNORMAL?
Hornaday: "I never looked at it that way, but Steve Carlson, he won a little Late Model ASA race up there and he told me that I better take to (Kevin and Delana) Harvick because he was turning 50 and he could drive their other truck for them. When I started racing, you had to be 35 to be in your prime and now you have to be 18 when you're in your prime. I don't know where it's going. It's so cool to see the truck series to have the young and the elderly and the different venues and all that stuff. It's just cool racing. The kids have to make a name for themselves and (Mike) Skinner and I have to go out and put trophies on the mantle. It just makes it fun."
-credit: gm racing