BUSCH: Bristol: Ron Hornaday preview

Hornaday confident he can conquer the field of 43 NOTES OF INTEREST: * KEEP THE FENDERS ON IT Some drivers say a lap around Bristol Motor Speedway is like flying a fighter jet in a gymnasium. If that's the case, the last thing you ...

Hornaday confident he can conquer the field of 43



Some drivers say a lap around Bristol Motor Speedway is like flying a fighter jet in a gymnasium. If that's the case, the last thing you would want to lose is a wing! In the golden days of NASCAR, a car could smash a fender, pancake a side and still have a shot at the win. But those days have changed and the key to Bristol (T.N.) in 2004, is to keep the fenders on the car. "It's not an aerodynamic deal. It's car balance and track position," ACDelco crew chief Butch Hylton said regarding the fenders. "When you're up front, it's easier to work lapped traffic and run your pace. When you have to fix cosmetic damage on pit road, you typically lose valuable track position. When you're in the back, even with a great car, you have to race your tail off. And that's when things can go wrong in a hurry at Bristol." But don't think that Bristol has lost its edge. "You are still going to see Hornaday rooting his way through traffic. There will always be contact. But our main goal is to be patient and keep the fenders on it," added Hylton.

* TESTING 1, 2, 3...

The ACDelco Chevrolet tested at Bristol a couple weeks ago and the Richard Childress Racing (RCR) owned team was very pleased with what they found. Hylton and Hornaday worked on a lot of mechanical chassis setup, rather than Bristol specific setup. "There were some things that I wanted to try with Ron to see what he thought. We learned a ton on what type of feel he likes and how best to setup for that feel. We did test Bristol stuff as well and I think we are going to be very good this weekend. I think we have a great shot to win if we can stay out of trouble," said Hylton.


Coming off two-straight 21st or worse finishes, Hornaday and the No. 2 ACDelco Monte Carlo are looking to get the championship train back on track. Hornaday is 13th in the championship points battle, 146 markers out of first, and Bristol could be the best remedy for what has ailed the team. Hornaday finished 12th in the spring race last year after being involved in a wreck with just 10 laps to go while running sixth. The ACDelco Chevy nearly won the fall race after leading most of the second half of the event, before finishing second to Michael Waltrip in the late stages. Hornaday has won at Bristol in the past. He won the NASCAR Truck Series race in 1997 and '98.


The ACDelco transporter will unload chassis No.023. It is the same car that Hornaday raced at Las Vegas. The team had planned to take chassis No. 027, but it was damaged at Darlington Raceway last weekend. The car scored a victory at Michigan International Speedway with Kevin Harvick at the wheel in 2003.

ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday on Bristol Motor Speedway

What is the key to racing at Bristol Motor Speedway?

"You need to be fast right off the truck. When you can fine tune on the car as opposed to doing a complete setup overhaul, it makes things much easier. You need to qualify up front. There are 43 cars on a small track and that leads to a lot of congestion. When you're in the top-five, it is much easier to pick and chose where you pass and put yourself in a position to go for the win in the last 50 laps."

How important is it to take care of the race car?

"It's become more important every year. These guys on this ACDelco team have maximized the front downforce on our Chevrolet Monte Carlo and when you tear up the fenders, it changes the balance of the car quite a bit. You have to be patiently aggressive at Bristol. If you wait to make your moves, you can fall way behind. But if you get to beating and banging, you can mess the car up. I think you also have to look at who you are racing. There are guys that know my style and I can race with them. There are others who think I'm too aggressive. Those are the guys you have to be real patient with."

How concerned are you about the point's battle right now?

"We have fallen behind and it's frustrating. We were out to lunch in Las Vegas (N.V.), but we had a good car at Darlington until we got hit by the lapped car. That just ruined the balance of the car and we had to play catch up all day. This is a great race team and I think we are still a factor for the championship. There are a lot of races left. We need to start putting some top-fives on the board. A win wouldn't hurt either."


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Drivers Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr.
Teams Richard Childress Racing