Ron Hornaday, Jr, No. 33 VFW Silverado met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed battling for a championship, preparation for the final two races and strategy. HAVING GONE THROUGH A TIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE...
Ron Hornaday, Jr, No. 33 VFW Silverado met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed battling for a championship, preparation for the final two races and strategy.
HAVING GONE THROUGH A TIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE LAST YEAR, DOES THAT HELP THIS YEAR? "Probably my worst championship year was l992. We came down here to Phoenix leading the points and exhaust pipe went through the windshield. We were down and out, came in and lost the clutch. In and out of the pits, our race was done, we had to pull the transmission out, we were umpteen laps, Doug George was leading it and he ended up blowing a tire and wrecking. That put Rick Carelli back in the points lead, he wrecks with two laps to go off of four. I think I won the championship by two or three points. Lindy (his wife) and I spent every penny we had, it was the most hectic, emotional championship I have ever done. The following year we go back and say we are just going out to have fun. We don't need to race; we already proved our point that we have good people and all that stuff. Then we ended up winning the championship back-to-back. I am kinda looking at this championship the same way. We showed Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) what this is all about. We are running up front showing that this is a championship caliber team, probably getting a little edgy when there was five or six races to go. Kevin pulled us all in a meeting and said, we were supposed to be having fun doing this. If we aren't having doing it, it is not worth doing it. We started looking at it different probably five or six races ago. We went out there to win races, try to lead the most laps and have fun doing it. If we don't pull it off, it is going to come down to one of us having a problem, Johnny (Benson) and I.
"Like last week, I am one of the dominant trucks last week and turn around and he finishes third and he is still in the points lead. I would rather be the guy that is catching these guys than the guy leading.
"In 1998, I was battling with Jack Sprague for the title down to the last race at Las Vegas. Jack won the race but I won the championship.
"You are only as good as your teams. Bill Davis' team (Benson's owner) is due for one. They have been in the running for the last couple of years. It is coming down to our teams and it is about the guys that make the least mistakes."
DID RYAN NEWMAN GIVE YOU ANY FEEDBACK AFTER HE RACED YOUR TEAM TRUCK AND WON AT ATLANTA? "The trucks are really good off the trailer. It showed when Jack (Sprague) was driving it too. Ryan had the least amount of luck and he ended up winning the thing. My own fault. I missed a couple of corners.
"I hate to keep saying I am taking a win away but we had such a big margin, we caught some lapped traffic and made the nose push and it got tight the last five laps and I just missed the corner. That truck is supposed to run just like ours. They are sister trucks. That truck that Ryan won with is the one I ran last year, won three races with. It was a good piece and we knew it was going to run good. That truck needed a win."
IF YOU LOSE THE CHAMPIONSHIP BY 15 POINTS, ARE YOU GOING TO KICK YOURSELF? "I kick myself for running out of fuel; Jack running in to us at Bristol. It is racing. If I was good enough, I should have beat him. It is my own fault. No, I am not going to. Ryan is out there to win races. We didn't hire him to finish second. I watch those IndyCar guys do that, lay over for one or two points. Maybe coming down the last race, they might do it. We put ourself in that position where we should be out in front in points right now. We deserve whatever we get dealt to us."
DO EITHER PHOENIX OR HOMESTEAD MAKE YOU FEEL OPTOMISTIC? "I have won at Homestead on luck. We did a two-tire stop and I won with Dave Fuge's truck with Mark Smith's motor. Love Phoenix. I think everybody does. Johnny is really good here too. I remember the time he got spun out and had to come from the back to the front and won the race. We are going to have to, in these next two hours of practice, are really important to us where we have some good adjustments. It showed last week, we did the same thing last 15 or 20 minutes of practice, we made some adjustments for the race. Rick (Ren, crew chief) remembered that and made an adjustment on our truck and it came to life. So, we are just going to have to do that. We are going to have to, like I say, these races are won and lost at the shop and bringing the right equipment. Last year when we had two trucks for the last five races, now we have five trucks for the last five races. We have something to choose from and we are going to bring our best bullets for the gun fight."
LATE IN THE RACE IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE THE BETTER TRUCK, CAN YOU HAVE ANY CONTACT WITH JOHNNY? "No. If it was between me and Jack; Skinner and I, guys that I have raced together with where the Tough Trucks came from, but Johnny and I have never had an incident on the track. I have got loose under him, he has got loose under me, but we have never physically run in to each other's bumpers. I want to race him as clean as I can. If I can't get around him, I will get around him on the outside or make sure I back my corner up or do whatever I got to do to pass him. To go out there and win this thing by taking him out, or moving him or roughing him up, it wouldn't be practical. If he makes the first move, game's on. But, I am sure he feels the same way. We are going to race each other the way we got here. We are going to race to win; we are going to race hard. If he races me any different, I will have to change my driving style."
CAN YOU GET BY A GUY HERE WITHOUT TOUCHING HIM HERE? "You are going to have to wait for the long run; the tires do give up a little bit here. It is a fairly long race, a lot of braking; we have to use a lot of motor. You have got to really turn off of turn two. If your truck is better than him, the corners are good enough where you can turn underneath of him and pass him. It depends on where he is running; you can pass on the outside. This track has a lot of character to it. There are three or four different styles of driving here so it depends on how you set your truck up."
JOHNNY HAS SAID HE ISN'T GOING TO BE BACK AT BILL DAVIS RACING NEXT YEAR SO CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW IT WOULD BE TO RUN THE LAST TWO RACES KNOWING YOU WERE MOVING ON? "If he was getting fired and he was looking for a job, I would be the guy nervous because he is trying to hunt for a job. But I am sure there are people that want Johnny right now. Everything he does. He doesn't tear equipment up, he runs hard every race, he is always there. He doesn't have any worries. He is going to go out there and run hard. If we can get in to Tripp Bruce's head, that is what we need to do right now. Tripp is a fun guy, he is very competitive. My Grandson races against his son in quarter midgets. To watch him, how competitive is there, I can't image how he is over in that camp. So I will try and get in his head before I try to get in to Johnny's head."
-credit: gm racing