Portland Hornaday Review

Hornaday runs like a champion By Matthew Leach PORTLAND, Ore. (April 25, 1998) They don't give an award for the most trucks passed, but if they did, Ron Hornaday would probably be leaving Portland Speedway, site of the Craftsman 200 presented...

Hornaday runs like a champion By Matthew Leach

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 25, 1998) They don't give an award for the most trucks passed, but if they did, Ron Hornaday would probably be leaving Portland Speedway, site of the Craftsman 200 presented by NAPA Auto Parts, with a big trophy.

On the tight half-mile Portland oval, where a pass was almost as rare as a truck with no scratches or scrapes on it, Hornaday battled out of tough spots all day long, and in the end he was rewarded with a sixth-place finish.

From his 10th-place starting position, Hornaday clawed his way up early. He passed two trucks on a single lap coming out of the race's second restart, including top rival and defending series champion Jack Sprague.

However, on lap 77, the No. 16 NAPA Brakes Chevrolet made contact with the No. 3 of Jay Sauter, and the two spun in Turn 4. Both were able to recover and stay on the lead lap, but Hornaday had lost the edge he seemed to have before, and he limped into the race's halfway break in 11th place.

The incident was especially troublesome because Hornaday and Sauter drive for the closely-affiliated Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Richard Childress Racing shops, respectively.

"I'd rather do that to anybody other than Jay," Hornaday said. "When I hit that bump and it took us both out, it just ruined our chances of winning. We had to go so far back, and the tires were a factor. We just wore the tires out. That's all there is to it."

After the break, Hornaday showed how true that was. On fresh tires, he was able to charge through the field, climbing to eighth on lap 134 and then seventh five laps later.

On a late restart, he passed Bryan Reffner to take sixth. Although Reffner made things difficult for the 1996 champion until the end, he could never get the No. 66 Ford past Hornaday.

When the race wrapped up, Hornaday was a happy man. He's enough of a veteran to know that finishing sixth on a bad day is just as important as finishing higher on a good day. He lost the lead in points to Sprague, but the margin will be single digits rather than the 30 or 40 points it might have been.

"It could have been a lot worse," Hornaday said. "We about ran into everybody out there. It's just one of them days. We were off, you know? When you've got to drive as hard as I did today, you're gonna get in trouble, and I got in a lot of trouble."

Even so, there are at least 26 drivers in the garage who would gladly have taken that "lot of trouble." Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jay Sauter , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Bryan Reffner