BUSCH: Daytona: Ron Hornaday preview

New Year. New Crew. Same Hornaday. NOTES OF INTEREST: * The Switch After winning the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) owners championship with Kevin Harvick and Johnny Sauter in the PayDay Chevrolet and finishing a very respectable third in...

New Year. New Crew. Same Hornaday.


* The Switch

After winning the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) owners championship with Kevin Harvick and Johnny Sauter in the PayDay Chevrolet and finishing a very respectable third in drivers points with Ron Hornaday and the ACDelco Chevrolet, you would think that team owner Richard Childress would want to keep things in 2004, just the way they were. But "RC" wasn't satisfied with only one part of the Busch Series title. So during the offseason, Childress announced that the two NBS teams would switch crews, cars, and transporters. Basically everything but the drivers. In 2004, the No.2 ACDelco Monte Carlo will be led by NBS champion crew chief Butch Hylton and his former PayDay team. The move designed to "strengthen all of RCR" has already proved to be a favorable one for Hornaday. A strong preseason testing effort has the two-time NASCAR Truck Series champion excited about his chances at the Busch Series title in 2004.

* Defending Freedom

Hornaday was one of many NASCAR personalities to travel to Iraq over the holidays to say thank you to the US troops engaged in defending our country's freedom. Hornaday was a guest of the Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). "I can't say thank you enough to our troops over in Iraq and the Middle East," said Hornaday. "To see what's going on over there with my own eyes was incredible. The bravery and skill of our troops is amazing to see. They were excited to meet us, but to be honest they are the hero's. I was excited to see them. It has really changed the way I look at my life and how amazing we have it here in the USA."

* What ya' Haulin'?

The ACDelco transporter will unload chassis No. 031 at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). The car was built in the off-season and is the newest addition to the ACDelco fleet. Hornaday is coming off two straight top-five finishes on the "big tracks." He led laps late but eventually got shuffled back to fourth at both Talladega and the night race at DIS in July.

No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday on the Hershey's Kisses 300

During the off-season, Richard Childress Racing decided to switch the two NBS teams. What are your thoughts on the switch? "I have to give Richard a lot of credit. With the season we had last year, finishing third in points and the owner's championship he won, he could have easily kept things the same. But he knew that both teams really needed a kick-start. Last year was a difficult year for the ACDelco car. The guys we had worked their guts out every week, but we just didn't win races like we felt we should have. I think I can take most of the blame for that as well. I tried to be a new and improved Ron Hornaday and it just wasn't me. I need to stick my nose in there and drive the wheels off the car. I didn't do that last year. But this year I plan on being the usual aggressive Hornaday. We are going after wins this year, not points. If we win races, the points will take care of themselves.

"I feel like Butch (Hylton) and I are dialed in right now. Our testing this year has been amazing. It's like he knows just what I am thinking out there. I expect big things for the ACDelco Chevy this year. We have all the pieces we need to win the championship and that is our goal. We came so close last year. It was hard being at the banquet and not being on stage. We want to be at the head table come November."

You finished 16th in the Koolerz 300 last year. What have you worked on to make this Speedweeks better? "Last year was my first race with RCR and we were still getting to know each other. Each team has a system of how they test or what they like to run and how they do things. I was trying to learn their language and Rick (Viers) was trying to learn mine. I thought we had a really good car. We ran in front most of the day, but late in the race the car just got real loose. We were lucky I didn't wreck, so 16th could have been worse.

"We built a brand new car for this race and it tested very well. Butch (Hylton) and I are communicating very well. I know the system now and the guys have gotten to know me over the year and I think we are all on the same page. I also could feel the advances the motor shop has made over the winter. I have the motor I need and the car I need to race up front. I have a great teammate in Kevin Harvick, so if we can hook up, I think an RCR car can go to victory lane."

You mentioned a teammate. Last year in July at DIS, you said that you learned a lot following Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip. What did you learn and how can that help you in the race on Saturday? "I'm not going to tell you that. No, I noticed some things they did running together that made them faster together and I saw how they really stayed focus on the big picture. The biggest thing is just trusting your teammate and knowing what he is going to do. And making sure he knows what your car is doing."


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About this article
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Johnny Sauter
Teams Richard Childress Racing