BUSCH: Bristol II: Ron Hornaday preview

HORNADAY BACK IN THE SMITH & WESSON CHEVROLET FOR FRIDAY NIGHT'S FOOD CITY 250 AT BRISTOL BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 24, 2005) -- Ron Hornaday, Jr., has turned thousands of laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, including a couple of hundred in a...


BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 24, 2005) -- Ron Hornaday, Jr., has turned thousands of laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, including a couple of hundred in a row during a landmark victory in 1997 that he earned in remarkable fashion -- from pole to checkered flag without ever losing the lead. He's back for Friday night's Food City 250 NASCAR Busch Series race, this time getting his first shot at his favorite track behind the wheel of the #30 Smith & Wesson [AMEX: SWB] Chevrolet of SKI Motorsports.

When last we saw the red, white and blue #30 Smith & Wesson machine, it was powering its way toward a top-10 finish July 1 at Daytona with another NASCAR veteran, Mike Bliss, in control. But on the next-to-last lap of the race, with Bliss in 11th and momentum carrying him toward the top 10, a bizarre, multi-car wreck that started two cars behind him managed to put him into the wall and out of the race. Still, the SKI Motorsports team, under the direction of veteran driver and crew chief Jeff Spraker, left Daytona with heads held high with a near-top-10 in only its fourth event of 2005.

"I think Jeff knows this place well enough that we can expect good things on Friday night," said Hornaday, whose 1997 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory from the pole here was a feat he duplicated the very next year, though he didn't lead all 200 laps in 1998. "I just love this track. It's a tiny little thing, but with all the banking, it's probably one of the fastest tracks in all of NASCAR, relatively speaking. Your first few laps of practice is just an exercise in re-learning how to breathe here with all the banking and the G-forces. It's really a special place."

Hornaday was also one of the dominant drivers in the 2003 Busch night race here and ended up finishing second to Michael Waltrip. He'll tune up for Friday night's Busch race by driving in Wednesday night's Truck series event in his full-time ride -- the #6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick, Inc.

"We'll have our work cut out for us on Friday, but we're up to the challenge," Hornaday said. "We're one of 23 cars that have to qualify on time for 13 available spots. It's so competitive at Bristol, the entire (43-car) grid won't be separated by more than a half-second. So we'll have to focus on doing our jobs and laying down a great qualifying lap. Then we can go racing!"


n Friday night's Food City 250 is the fifth of eight races scheduled for the #30 Smith & Wesson/SKI Motorsports Chevrolet this season. Nextel Cup regular Scott Riggs debuted the car March 12 at Las Vegas, qualifying 30th and finishing 21st. The following weekend at Atlanta, two-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., took over and qualified 25th before retiring after an opening-lap accident. At Charlotte (May 28), Riggs outqualified seven competitors who ended up making the race, but missed it himself by a mere four 1,000ths of a second under NASCAR's new qualifying format. Mike Bliss was tabbed to drive July 1 at Daytona and was on his way to a top-10 finish when, on the next-to-last lap of the race, he was tagged from behind in a multi-car wreck and ended up in the wall. Hornaday will drive the remaining races of 2005: Fontana (Sept. 3), Texas (Nov. 5) and Phoenix (Nov. 12).

n Friday night's race will be the 10th career Busch start at Bristol for Hornaday. His best finish was second to Michael Waltrip in the 2003 August race, which he led for 56 laps. He has five Truck series starts here, including victories from the pole in both the 1997 and 1998 races to go with two other top-10 finishes. He also has a pair of Nextel Cup starts.

n The Smith & Wesson 460XVR (X-treme Velocity Revolver) earlier this year won the 2005 Handgun of the Year award from the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence. A commemorative racing edition of the 460XVR, featuring a 24-carat gold-plated engraving of the S&W Chevrolet, unique hand-engraved scrollwork and a glass-topped ash display box, was introduced in February at Daytona. The 460XVR is the world's fastest revolver with muzzle speeds of more than 2,300 feet per second.

n The Smith & Wesson Racing Online Store, where online shoppers can find a wide variety of t-shirts, polos, button-downs, hats, jackets, pullovers and assorted trinkets bearing the stylish Smith & Wesson Racing logo, is officially open for business at www.smith-wesson-racing.com.

n Continuing its ongoing efforts in support of the Department of Justice's Project ChildSafe gun safety outreach program initiated at Charlotte in May, Smith & Wesson will be giving away free gun safety locks this weekend at the Smith & Wesson Trackside Trailer.


Friday, August 26 (all times Eastern)

9:45 to 11:55 a.m. -- NASCAR Busch Series Practice

4:40 p.m. -- Busch Qualifying (Live on SPEED-TV from 4:30 to 6 p.m.)

7:50 p.m. -- Food City 250 (250 laps; Live on TNT at 7:30 p.m. EDT)

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Drivers Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Scott Riggs , Mike Bliss , Jeff Spraker