BUSCH: Darlington: Ron Hornaday preview

Hornaday heads to Darlington looking to continue strong runs. March 10, 2003 (Darlington, S.C.) The NASCAR Busch Series heads into race number four of the 2003 season and with three good races under his belt, Ron Hornaday hopes that his ACDelco...

Hornaday heads to Darlington looking to continue strong runs.

March 10, 2003 (Darlington, S.C.) The NASCAR Busch Series heads into race number four of the 2003 season and with three good races under his belt, Ron Hornaday hopes that his ACDelco team can continue to build momentum towards a championship season. After notching his first top-10 of the season, Hornaday is seventh in the NBS points standings. And in the past, Darlington Raceway's been a track that has been pivotal as far as points are concerned. With it's tricky egg shape, narrow abrasive surface and unforgiving walls, Darlington Raceway is indeed "too tough to tame!"

Ron Hornaday, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet, comments on racing at Darlington Raceway:

You are currently seventh in points. Has the season met your expectations so far?

"Yes and no. I am very pleased right now with how good these ACDelco cars have been when we unload them. The guys back at RCR do a great job of getting the cars ready for whatever track we are going to. At every track we've been to so far, the car has been good right of the truck. I think that speaks to the kind of equipment that Richard Childress expects his drivers to have. And I think that shows how strong a team we have."

"With that said, we really thought we would be better in race trim than we have been. We have struggled a little bit with finding the balance and the feel I like. At both Rockingham and Las Vegas, I really had a hard time feeling the nose of the car. Rick Viers and I went back through the notes and think we may have come across something that will help me feel the car better at Darlington. And that kind of attention to details is what has me so excited about this ACDelco team. I just feel like we can win every time out. So we are disappointed that we haven't won yet, but I think that shows just how tough the Busch Series is. It also shows how good this ACDelco team is. We haven't run close to our potential, yet we still have a car that has run in the top-five at every race and that is seventh in points."

Darlington Raceway is a classic NASCAR track.  They say it is "too tough to
tame."  You have only one top-10 finish there.  What makes it so tough?

"Everything! Darlington is a tough track, but it actually is a lot of fun when you are hooked up. My stats don't look very good there, but I have had some good runs at the track, but had something break on the car. That's how Darlington is. It can bite you at any time. The track is so narrow. There isn't a lot of room for side-by-side racing once the tires wear, but yet we attempt every race and usually it doesn't work. In the No. 14 car, I was running in the top-20 and a car came under me in turn three and just came right up in the middle of the corner and put us both in the wall. I guess he thought he was clear or something. But that is what can happen. I was happy to ride out the tire run, and then the next moment, I'm in the wall. So you have to race the track, but you have to hope the guy next to you is doing the same."

Your teammate Johnny Sauter tested the No. 21 RCR Chevrolet at Darlington Raceway last week. In fact the No. 21 tested at both Rockingham and Las Vegas. You haven't tested this year, outside of Daytona. Are you able to learn anything from your teammates test?

"We have learned a lot from both Johnny (Sauter) and Kevin's (Harvick) tests. I think that is why we have been prepared so well right off the truck. We can get a great base setup from what they have learned and Rick (Viers) and I get feedback from Butch Hylton as well, so I think it helps a great deal. What we haven't learned for us is balance and feel. That takes track time and with the rain in Rockingham and Las Vegas, we just haven't had enough practice time under race conditions."

"Our goal was to try to save as many tests as we could until late in the season. When you are running for a championship, they can be beneficial. With only five tests available this year, we felt like we needed to try and save them as long as we could. We have scheduled our first test for Richmond in April, so hopefully we will continue to race strong and have some tests for down the stretch."


* Ron Hornaday began his 2002 Busch Series campaign at Darlington Raceway. Hornaday substituted for Ricky Hendrick in the No. 5 Chevrolet of Hendrick Motorsports after Hendrick was injured at Las Vegas. In fact, it was Hornaday's first NBS start of that season. Rick Hendrick had hired Hornaday to run his Chevrolet Silverado in the NASCAR Truck Series for 2002, but abandoned those plans after Ricky's accident. Hornaday ran six races for HMS before the younger Hendrick returned to the No. 5 car.

* Hornaday competed in the fall Busch Series event in the No. 26 Chevrolet for Carroll Racing. He replaced Lyndon Amick at Loudon, N.H. and finished the season driving for Dave Carroll. During his tenure in the No. 26, Hornaday notched eight top-10, five top-five, and one pole in route to a 17th place finish in points, despite not running a full schedule.

* Hornaday learned his way around Darlington with the help of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt. In 2000, Hornaday stepped up to the Busch Series from the Trucks, taking over the No. 3 car from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Since the Truck Series did not race at Darlington at that time, Earnhardt manned the radio and talked Hornaday around the track. During the race he offered advise to Hornaday and helped him find the groove that led to an eighth place finish in his first race at the track.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ricky Hendrick , Lyndon Amick , Johnny Sauter
Teams Hendrick Motorsports