BUSCH: Indy IRP: Ron Hornaday preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 3, 2004) - Ron Hornaday saw his six race streak of top-10 finishes come to an end after an 11th place finish at Pikes Peak International Raceway last Saturday. But coming into this weekend's short track affair at ...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 3, 2004) - Ron Hornaday saw his six race streak of top-10 finishes come to an end after an 11th place finish at Pikes Peak International Raceway last Saturday. But coming into this weekend's short track affair at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Hornaday is poised to start a new streak.

The two-time NASCAR Truck Series champion tested at the .500-mile bullring and says it's time to return to victory lane. "I have always had a good feel for IRP," said Hornaday. "I have two wins at the track and probably should have had two or three more if it hadn't been for my good friend Jack Sprague. For some reason he seemed to always want to drive my truck at IRP. That has to explain why he was constantly hitting my door." Although Hornaday enjoys joking about his epic battles with Sprague in the NASCAR Truck Series (NCTS), the driver of the ACDelco Chevrolet is very focused on winning again in the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS). "We let the race get away from us last year and I don't want to feel that way again," said Hornaday. "We helped Clint Bowyer test up here and learned that the track has changed a little. It seems to have tightened up from last year. But I think it will be better once the trucks put down some Goodyear rubber."

Hornaday is not a stranger to victory lane at IRP. He won the NCTS race in 1997 during a dramatic green-white-checkered finish with his rival Sprague. He scored his second career NBS win at IRP in 2000, driving a Dale Earnhardt, Inc. owned Monte Carlo. With that kind of record at IRP, it's no surprise that Hornaday looks forward to racing in Indianapolis. "I have had this race circled on my schedule since we left last year," said Hornaday. "I always say my favorite tracks are the ones I win at, so IRP is my favorite track this week. The circus may be down the road at the big track (Indianapolis Motor Speedway), but the spectacle is at IRP!"

Points of Interest...

* Green-White-Hornaday...Ron Hornaday scored seven of his NASCAR Truck Series record 26 wins via green-white-checkered (G-W-C) finishes. He has the most wins of any driver in NASCAR under this finishing format. He won 70% of all G-W-C finishes he was involved in.

* Testing 1-2-3...Hornaday helped rookie teammate Clint Bowyer during a test at IRP back in July. Despite a slick surface due to a sprint car race at the track over the weekend, Hornaday said the RCR teams learned a good deal for this Saturday's Kroger 200. The No. 2 ACDelco team will fly straight from Indy to Brooklyn, Michigan, for a Monday/Tuesday test at Michigan International Speedway.

* Hot Summer Action...Despite being as far back in the points as 10th following the Dover race on June 7, Hornaday has charged up through the point standings over the last month. He has scored top-10 finishes in six of his last seven races and rallied to third in points.

* IRP Track Stat...Hornaday has two career NASCAR victories at IRP. He won the NASCAR Truck Series race in the No. 16 Chevy Silverado on July 31, 1997. In that race, Hornaday held off Jack Sprague on a green-white-checkered finish. On August 4, 2000, Hornaday piloted his No. 3 Chevy Monte Carlo to the win in the NBS Kroger 200.

* What ya' Haulin'...The ACDelco transporter will unload chassis No. 36 at IRP. It is the same "drop-snout" chassis that went to victory lane at The Milwaukee Mile on June 26. It was most recently raced to a sixth place finish at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 24, where Hornaday led the most laps.

* Last year at IRP...Hornaday qualified the ACDelco Chevrolet 16th. Crew chief Rick Viers set the car up for long green flag runs and by halfway, the No. 2 Monte Carlo took the lead and led until the car developed a bad push on lap 116. With the tight condition, Hornaday fell back into the pack and finished eighth.

No. 2 ACDelco driver Ron Hornaday on Indianapolis Raceway Park...

You have two career NASCAR wins at IRP. Are you excited to be racing at the half-mile bullring this weekend?

"I can't wait. I have really been looking forward to this race all year. It has been literally circled on my schedule. I love IRP. This is racing to me. The track has a top groove that is very fast, but we showed last year that the low groove can work as well. You can race side-by-side here and if there is contact, it's just racing. That's my style. I like to lean on people. I like the contact. This is my kind of race track."

How did your IRP test with Clint Bowyer go?

"The track was super slick from the rubber the open wheel cars had put on it that weekend, but we feel like we did learn some things. Clint is a good young driver and he picked everything up fairly quick. The biggest thing we saw was that as slick as the track was, it still got real tight off the corners. That is what we are going to fight all night long. We have some good notes that we think will give us a good starting place when we unload."

You have had a very good summer. What has been the key to the turn around?

"I don't see that we have turned anything around. We have just eliminated some of the mistakes we were making early in the season. I feel good about the way we are racing, but I am concerned that we aren't gaining any ground in points. Yes, we have climbed to third, but 373 points out is a ton. We still have hope that we can put together three or four wins and get back into the hunt. I think this track is one of our best chances to start a winning streak."

You have raced both trucks and cars at IRP. Is there a difference between the two at this track?

"The biggest thing is the wheel base. The truck has a longer wheel base, so they are a little harder to turn. They tend to get real tight off the corner. The aerodynamics aren't much of a factor here at all. If anything, the fact that you can beat and bang more with the truck without upsetting the balance is probably the only real difference. I would love to race a truck again at IRP. I wish our schedule would allow it. Maybe next year we can sneak in and trade paint on Friday night."

No. 2 ACDelco crew chief Butch Hylton on IRP...

What is the most important part of the setup for a track like IRP?

"I think it is getting the balance right in the car.  The springs are
going to be pretty close to what we have always run there.  I'm sure the
shocks will be different.  But it is so easy to be either too loose or
too tight at IRP.  It is very tough to have a car work good on both short
and long runs for some reason.  That is our biggest challenge."

-rcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Clint Bowyer