Mansfield: Ron Hornaday preview

RON HORNADAY Something New; Something Old Huntersville, NC (May 10, 2005)- When the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series (NCTS) invades Mansfield Motorsports Speedway this weekend, there will be a least one newcomer to the track located in...

RON HORNADAY
Something New; Something Old

Huntersville, NC (May 10, 2005)- When the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series (NCTS) invades Mansfield Motorsports Speedway this weekend, there will be a least one newcomer to the track located in Mansfield, Ohio. However, because he has never raced on the half-mile mile oval before, doesn't mean that Ron Hornaday won't be a major factor this Sunday. The driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet should be right at home racing at a track that will be familiar to him even if he has previously never seen it in person.

Hornaday has a comprehensive history of racing at short tracks. In fact, the Palmdale Calif., native may have spent more time at the short track than anyone else racing in this weekend's UAW-GM Ohio 250. From growing up watching his father win hundreds of races at local tracks in Southern California, to winning the Southwest Tour Series championship in 1992 and 1993, Hornaday's roots are deep when it comes to the bumper-to-bumper action that short track racing encompasses.

"I absolutely love this kind of racing. It reminds me of going to the track with my dad, basically growing up at the track, and deciding that racing is what I wanted to do with my life. I got my start at local tracks and this just brings me back to those days. I think as drivers we enjoy the short tracks as much as anything because you get out there and have a chance to prove what you can do. It won't be racing at Saugus Speedway in California, but it sure will be close."

Hornaday's numbers speak for themselves when it comes to racing at tracks with the likes of Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. Fifteen of his record 27 victories come at tracks with less than a mile in circumference, making him the most successful short track driver in NCTS history. He is also the only driver ever to win at Bristol Motor Speedway after leading every single lap of the race, at feat that arguably will never be duplicated. This type of experience and know-how makes it impossible to overlook Hornaday in Sunday afternoon's NCTS showdown.

"I don't feel like an underdog because I have never raced in Mansfield before," said Hornaday. "I have been around tracks like it almost my entire life so I feel like my GM Goodwrench team should be the favorite going into the weekend. I will have to watch some videotaped races that have been run there in the past so I can get a feel for the place, but I don't think it will take long to get comfortable out there driving."

Points of Interest...

* Last year... Hornaday may not have been to Mansfield Motorsports Speedway before, but his team has. Last year, along with current crew chief Wally Rodgers, the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet finished in 10th position with Matt Crafton behind the wheel.

* Feeling Fine... Two weeks ago Hornaday had his appendix removed before his race in St Louis, Mo. He says that he is feeling fine and expects the surgery to play no role in this weekend's race.

* New Edition... Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) has a new engineer for the No. 6 NCTS team. Terra Marckese was hired this week to help current engineer Mike Dubowicz, who is presently working double-duty for both the KHI Busch team and truck team. Marckese is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.

* Off the Hauler... The GM Goodwrench team will be taking chassis No. 003 to race at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway. No. 003 ran four races last year with a best finish of sixth at Martinsville Motor Speedway.

* TV and Radio... Start time for Sunday afternoon's UAW-GM Ohio 250 is 2:15 p.m. EDT. TV coverage will begin at 2:00 p.m. on SPEED Channel, with radio broadcast being carried by MRN at the same time. Remember that race dates and times are subject to change, so check your local listings.

No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Ron Hornaday on Mansfield Motorsports Speedway:

"This is a race track that I have been looking forward to coming to all year. I love racing on the short tracks and this should be no exception. I have never raced there before, but I think if I watch some videos and get out there and run some laps during practice I should get the hang of it pretty quickly. I hear that the fans in Ohio are awesome and we really want to put on a good show for them. Our GM Goodwrench team has some ground to make up after last race's blown engine and we think we can get it done this weekend."

How is the appendix issue working out?

"In St. Louis there was some question of whether or not I was going to be able to drive, but that issue has been resolved. I was a little sore after the race, but the fact that our engine blew was way more painful. I am more than fine now. They don't even use stitches anymore; they just glue you back together. I didn't even have to go back to have the stitches removed so that problem is completely behind me."

Does last week's blown engine motivate the team or hurt the team?

"There is no question that this is a motivated team right now. Last week before the engine blew we were in fourth position in points and running top-five in the race. We were looking to continue our charge before we fell out of contention. We took a hit in the points and instead of moving up we moved backwards two spots. Everyone involved with this team knows exactly where we stand and exactly what needs to be done. We can make up the loss, but it is going to take a dedicated team, and this GM Goodwrench team has got what it takes."

-khi-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Matt Crafton