BUSCH: Michigan: Ron Hornaday preview

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 17, 2004) - Ron Hornaday spent two days last week testing at Michigan International Speedway searching every inch of the Irish Hills banking for the magic groove. But like most competitors at MIS, Hornaday found that...

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 17, 2004) - Ron Hornaday spent two days last week testing at Michigan International Speedway searching every inch of the Irish Hills banking for the magic groove. But like most competitors at MIS, Hornaday found that one lap the low groove is fast and the next lap, the speed is found up high. What the ACDelco Chevrolet driver hopes for this weekend is something in the middle. "Michigan is very unique in that you can run anywhere on the track," said Hornaday. "Some guys will run right up next to the wall and other will run on the bottom. I think if your car is hooked up, you'll run more in the middle. If it will work in the middle at the start of a run, then you can always move up or down if another lane starts moving better."

After a blistering start to the summer schedule, Hornaday has struggled over the last two races. The team missed the setup at Pikes Peak International Raceway on July 31, and was involved in a crash at Indianapolis (Ind.) Raceway Park two weeks ago. The struggles dropped Hornaday from third in points to sixth and quite possibly out of the Busch Series championship chase. "We are probably out of the championship deal right now," said Hornaday. "I really thought in July that we could make a run at (Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Busch). But the crash at IRP really hurt us in points. We haven't given up, but realistically we are racing for wins at this point."

Can MIS be the site of another Hornaday victory? The statistics point to no, but Hornaday says at this track, stats mean very little. "Michigan is one of those tracks where on any given race day, anyone can win," said Hornaday. "I have struggled here in the past, but in most cases, I knew going in we were behind. I feel pretty good after the test that we can be a top-10 car. We weren't the fastest, but I think we were very consistent. You typically have long green flag runs and green flag pit stops. If things go right on pit road, we might have something for them."

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 tested the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet at MIS last Monday and Tuesday. The RCR team worked on several key points of interest including transmissions and gears. In fact, Hornaday tested the same transmission that the Hendrick Motorsports cars struggled with at Watkins Glen International and had similar issues. Because of the problems, they will not race the new transmission. While the test was used as more information gathering than being the fastest, Hornaday said they need to find another two-tenths to be one of the cars to beat.

* MIS Track Stat...Hornaday has qualified in the top-15 three straight races at MIS. However, he has failed to finish on the lead lap in all three of his NBS starts.

* What ya' Haulin'...The ACDelco transporter will unload chassis No. 019. The Chevrolet Monte Carlo has been in the RCR fleet for years, but has been rarely used. Hornaday tested two cars at MIS last week and picked No. 019.

* Last year at MIS...Hornaday qualified 12th, but battled a tight race car the entire afternoon. The ACDelco crew decided to roll the dice on fuel mileage, but Hornaday cut a tire and was forced to pit under green, losing a lap. The race ended early due to rain and Hornaday finished 28th. Kevin Harvick and then, crew chief Butch Hylton rolled the dice by staying out through the rain and won the race.

No. 2 ACDelco driver Ron Hornaday on Michigan International Speedway...

You're finishes suggest that Michigan is a track where you struggle. Why has it been your most disappointing track?

"If I knew the answer to that, than I could fix it. I really like the track. I think it is an easy track to race on. It has a lot of room. So, I don't know. In 2000, we had announced that (DEI) was ending the Busch program at the end of the year, so I think we were just mentally not ready for the race. In 2002, I had a great car with Carroll Racing, but the engine expired in the middle of the race. Last year, we just battled an aero issue. The car was so tight in traffic. We were loose at the test, so it looks like we fixed our aero issues."

Grade your testing session at MIS?

"I guess a B. We learned some things that will work and a lot of things that won't. We didn't bring our best motor to the test, so we knew we were probably 30 horsepower off. As a driver, you want to be the fastest everywhere you go, even during a test. We weren't the fastest, but we were decent. The car was loose for most of the day and I had to run up high. I learned how to use that upper groove, so that's a plus. We still need another two-tenths to be a top-five car."

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

What concerns you most coming into MIS?

"Tire wear. We saw a huge fall off in the tires during the test and I see no reason it will be any different this weekend. This is one of the toughest races to call as a crew chief. This has always been a fuel mileage race, so that is one of the keys to victory. Tires are going to be very important. You have to have fresh tires at the end if you want to win. Because of that, you have to be careful with things like camber. If you use too much, you can wear the tires out quickly and then it's easy to fall way behind."

How did the test go from a crew chief point of view?

"I'm glad we went. I would have never guessed the tires would fall off that much. Hearing it would have been one thing but seeing it was another. We learned a lot. My goal was to try some things we had found on our "shaker rig" back at RCR. The engineers had some things they wanted to try as well, so we tried those and learned what they do on track. I would have liked to have been a tick faster, but that wasn't the big goal. I feel like we know what we need for this race and have made those improvements. I know we are ahead of the game because we tested."

-acdelco racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Martin Truex Jr. , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports