BUSCH: Homestead: Ron Hornaday preview

Hornaday looking for Busch title at Homestead-Miami NOTES: * Points battle With just one race to go at Homestead-Miami Speedway, ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday is still in the hunt for the NASCAR Busch Series championship. Hornaday, a...

Hornaday looking for Busch title at Homestead-Miami


* Points battle
With just one race to go at Homestead-Miami Speedway, ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday is still in the hunt for the NASCAR Busch Series championship. Hornaday, a two-time NASCAR Southwest Tour (1992, '93) and NASCAR Truck Series Champion ('96, '98), is in third place, just 39 points out of first position.

* What ya' haulin?
The ACDelco transporter will unload chassis No.24. After testing both No.24 and No.28 (spring Richmond, Kansas) on Tuesday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the ACDelco team decided that No. 24 would give them the best chance to win the race. It will be the first time this car has been raced this year.

* Former winner
Hornaday won the final NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year. It was just his second start of the season in that series in 2002. The victory, extended Hornaday's record for wins in that series to 26.

* Back in the Southwest Tour days
In 1992, Hornaday was involved in one of the greatest and closest championship battles in NASCAR history. Heading into the last race at Phoenix for the NASCAR Southwest Tour, Hornaday was the point's leader looking to wrap up the title. Three other drivers were also within just a few points of Hornaday. During the race, Hornaday suffered a cracked bone in his arm when Dennis Dyer's tailpipe came crashing through the windshield. The crew repaired the window and duck taped Hornaday's arm allowing him to continue. Hornaday's problems turned the points lead over to Rick Carelli, who looked like he had it wrapped up until the white flag. With one lap to go, Carelli blew a tire and crashed in turn one ending his title hopes. Hornaday only had to finish the race to capture his second straight championship. Because of the crash, Hornaday had to stop just short of the finish line. Once the safety crews finished, Hornaday tried to fire the car, but it would not start. He climbed out of the car and pushed it across the line to win the championship. Not wanting to disappoint the cheering fans, Hornaday and his crew pushed the car around the one-mile track for an awe inspiring victory lap.

Ron Hornaday comments on Homestead-Miami Speedway and the battle for the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series Championship

You won the truck race here last year, but since then the track has changed. How will the new banking change how you race the track?
"That's a great question and one that I don't think any of us can answer. We will learn a little on Tuesday during the test. I am also racing for RCR in the Winston Cup race, so we will get another test in that car on Wednesday. But the surface is so new and it will change as more and more rubber gets put down. I have been very successful in my career when we have gone to a brand new track. Hopefully that trend will continue.

Is there anything you think you can take from the old configuration that can help you this weekend?
"Yep, where the bathrooms are (laughing). I don't know. I doubt it. I was very surprised by how just moving the wall back at Phoenix made such a difference in how that track raced. So, I expect Homestead will feel and drive completely different. But everybody is at the same disadvantage, so there is no reason to dwell on it.

This is the final race of the year and you are in the thick of the point's battle. What do you need to do to capture the championship?
"We have to win the race. I would be very surprised if we can win the championship without winning the race. It's possible, but very unlikely. And even if we do win the race, we could lose the championship. It's just that close. I want to win this weekend. I think if we do that, we will leave knowing we did all we could."

You have won four NASCAR championships in your career. Does that experience help you in this point's battle?
"It helps in the fact that I know how to approach the final race and how to manage the media and the attention. But each battle is different. The other drivers and their personalities are different. All four drivers in this battle are with elite NASCAR Busch Series teams. They all know what it takes to win a championship. I don't think anyone is going to get rattled or make a mistake. We have all left the door open for this championship. I think we are in a great position to win this race at Homestead and that's all we are going to worry about.

Whether or not you win or lose the championship, has this been a successful season?
"Only if we win the championship. In general, we have done some good things. We won a race (Nazareth, Pa.) and put this ACDelco Chevrolet back where it belongs...up front. We have helped Chevrolet win the manufacturers championship. And RCR won the owners championship. But the only goal this team and I had was to win the championship. Without that, we will leave Miami disappointed. However, I am so proud of all my guys on this team. If for some reason we don't win the title, it won't be because we didn't work hard enough. These guys worked their guts out all year and I couldn't be with a better team than this RCR/ACDelco team."

You haven't led the points all year. What makes you think you can win the title?
"It's all these guys on this RCR team and Richard Childress himself. Good things happen to this organization because of hard work and having the best cars and people. The thing you have to remember in racing is, it's not how many weeks you lead, but that you are leading at the end."

Ron Hornaday and the ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo are third in the NASCAR Busch Series point's standings. Hornaday is 39 points out of first place.

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Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Rick Carelli