HORNADAY QUALIFIES 24TH AT NASCAR AMERIQUEST 300, FINISHES 34TH DESPITE PAIR OF MID-RACE PROBLEMS FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Sept. 3, 2005) -- Ron Hornaday and the ...
HORNADAY QUALIFIES 24TH AT NASCAR AMERIQUEST 300, FINISHES 34TH DESPITE PAIR OF MID-RACE PROBLEMS
FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Sept. 3, 2005) -- Ron Hornaday and the #30 Smith & Wesson Racing Chevrolet team of SKI Motorsports posted their top qualifying effort of the NASCAR Busch Series season this afternoon, then went on enjoy some promising moments in tonight's Ameriquest 300 at California Speedway -- including a brief period running in the top 10 -- before ultimately coming home in 34th place.
In only the sixth scheduled racing event of the team's inaugural season, Hornaday put the #30 Smith & Wesson Chevrolet on the outside of the 12th row in qualifying, beating 15 of the 19 competitors who had to make the 43-car starting grid based on qualifying time, including a number of longtime NASCAR competitors and championship-winning organizations.
For the first 53 laps of tonight's 300-mile, 150-lap event, Hornaday kept the Smith & Wesson Racing machine running as high as 23rd despite slight handling problems -- loose on corner entry and exit, tight in the center. The crew gradually improved things on yellow-flag pit stops on Laps 12 and 39. They then elected to stay out in favor of track position during a caution period that began on Lap 53, elevating Hornaday to ninth place when the race went back to green on Lap 59.
From there, the crew planned to run to near Lap 100 for a last fuel-and-tire stop that would take Hornaday to the end of the race. But carburetion problems appeared to set in around Lap 76. Hornaday pitted for fuel and tires under green on Lap 91, resuming in 33rd position, a lap down. A vibration in the right front of the car following that pit stop was severe enough to send Hornaday back to the pits under green on Lap 95 for a set of right-side tires. He resumed in 37th place, three laps down. He was able to make up three positions from there to the checkered flag on Lap 150.
Nextel Cup regulars Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle swept the top two positions tonight, with Busch series regular Clint Bowyer finishing third.
Next up for the Smith & Wesson Racing Chevrolet team are back-to-back racing weekends at Texas and Phoenix in November.
"After a great run for us in qualifying, I felt really good about the Smith & Wesson Chevrolet at the start of the race. But then we developed a little problem with the carburetor or fuel pickup, or something, that hurt us. Then we had to pit a second time under that green-flag stretch that really set us back to far. Despite all that, we accomplished one of our goals and that was to make it to the end. This program is in its infancy and, in a way, you could call tonight a modest 300-mile test session. We're making headway. We'll do some testing before we hit the track again at Texas and Phoenix, and we'll see if we can post some good results there to finish our season."
JEFF SPRAKER (Crew Chief)
"We worked really, really hard for what we got this weekend. Qualifying the way we did was a highlight for us because the car wasn't quite right when we rolled it off the truck. But Ron and I worked at it and worked at it and made some changes that made it really good for qualifying. We took off pretty well in the race, but then we ran into a glitch on Lap 76, and then the vibration problem less than 20 laps after that. That's about when the racing gods stopped smiling on us for the weekend. We brought the car home in one piece. We'll build on the positive things we learned here and hopefully come back stronger and faster than ever at Texas and Phoenix."