For Immediate Release HORNADAY TAKES LEAD LATE, WINS CHEVY TRUCKS CHALLENGE LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 18, 1998 - Ron Hornaday took the lead with six laps remaining and held off Joe Ruttman to win the Chevy Trucks Challenge NASCAR ...
For Immediate Release
HORNADAY TAKES LEAD LATE, WINS CHEVY TRUCKS CHALLENGE
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 18, 1998 - Ron Hornaday took the lead with six laps remaining and held off Joe Ruttman to win the Chevy Trucks Challenge NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Sunday at Walt Disney World Speedway.
Hornaday, from Palmdale, Calif., inherited the lead on lap 199 of the season-opening, 204-lap race when leader Mike Bliss entered the pits for a splash of fuel during a caution period. Hornaday beat 1997 event champion Ruttman to the checkered flag by .211 seconds in the NAPA Brakes Chevrolet for his first victory since August 1997 at Flemington, N.J.
The race, scheduled for 200 laps, was extended to 204 due to a late caution period. NCTS races cannot end under a caution flag. Hornaday earned $48,625 and became the first driver to win in all four seasons of the series' history. His average speed was 94.033 mph, an event record.
"I never thought we had a problem with fuel until somebody dropped out at the end," said 1996 series champion Hornaday, who was suffering from the flu. "I stepped on the gas on the restart and got nothing. I thought, 'We've got a problem.'"
No. 2 qualifier Hornaday landed in position to win the race after leader Mike Wallace and Ruttman tangled on lap 196. Wallace and Ruttman raced side-by-side around the 1-mile tri-oval before rubbing fenders in Turn 3, sending Wallace's Purolator PureOne Filters Chevrolet into the outside retaining wall. Wallace was done for the race, but Ruttman stayed in second.
That incident put Bliss into the lead, but it was short-lived. His Team ASE Racing Ford was running out of gas, and he was forced to pit. Hornaday took the lead for the fourth time during the race, this time for keeps.
"Two more gallons of gas, and it would have been a lot less stressful of a weekend," said Bliss, who finished 21st in the USAC Silver Crown race Saturday at the track.
Polesitter Chuck Bown led the first 116 laps in the Exide Batteries Ford. Hornaday ended Bown's domination with a low pass for the lead in Turn 3 on lap 117.
Greg Biffle finished fifth in the W.W. Grainger Racing Ford, the best finish among the six Cintas Rookie of the Year Award candidates in the 36-truck field.
Racing will continue at Walt Disney World Speedway this weekend with the third annual Indy 200 Presented by Aurora, the season-opening event for the Indy Racing League. Practice starts at 10 a.m. (EST) Thursday, with qualifying at noon Friday televised live by SpeedVision. The race will be broadcast live Saturday on ABC and the IMS Radio Network starting at 12:30 p.m.