HORNADAY LEADS LAPS IN ...
HORNADAY LEADS LAPS IN #32 WINFUEL CHEVY, ENDS UP 15th IN RAIN SHORTENED SBC 250 AT MILWAUKEE
MILWAUKEE, WI (June 26, 2005) -- The weekend started off rough for most of the members of the Braun Racing/WINFUEL team... to say the least. Team members, including owner Todd Braun and crew chief Todd Lohse, were on the team plane en route to Milwaukee early Friday morning, when one of the engines experience problems and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in Cincinnati. Thankfully all team members reached the on the ground safely, but they would not arrive in Milwaukee until late Friday night.
"It was definitely a wild ride that got everyone's attention, but the important thing is that we are all safe and we have that to be thankful for," team owner Todd Braun said of the stressful experience.
In the meantime, #32 hauler driver Mike Davis was left alone to get the WINFUEL Chevrolet prepared and pushed through technical inspection before the garage closed for the day. Thanks to help from numerous friends in the garage area, the WINFUEL car successfully cleared tech and was ready for Saturday's events.
On Saturday, the Braun Racing crew came to the Milwaukee Mile prepared to work hard to make up for the time they lost the day before. The WINFUEL team never missed a beat, and by the end of the final practice Ron Hornaday put the #32 Chevy 3rd on the time chart.
"We had a good test here least week, so we knew we were going to be fast and we just used the practice time to try a few things that the team thought might make us even better," veteran driver Ron Hornaday explained. "I was able to give the WINFUEL guys feedback on what my GM Goodwrech team did to make my truck so fast the day before and that really helped us with the Busch car too."
Halfway through the hot afternoon qualifying session, Hornaday took the track and laid down a blistering lap, pacing The Milwaukee Mile in 29.478 seconds at a speed of 122.125 mph to place the WINFUEL Chevy 4th on the starting grid for Saturday night's SBC 250.
At the start of the race, Hornaday quickly moved past #11 Paul Menard and #20 Denny Hamlin to move into 2nd position by lap 3, behind race leader #1 Johnny Sauter. When the first caution flag came on lap 21, Sauter brought his car to pit road and Hornaday took over the lead in the #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet. Hornaday would pace the field for the next 36 laps, until #1 Johnny Sauter was able to work his way though traffic on fresher tires to resume the lead.
On lap 90, under green flag conditions, Hornaday brought the #32 down pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Unfortunately, the #32 would loose valuable time when Hornaday was forced to bring the WINFUEL Chevy back down pit road a few laps later after being black flagged by NASCAR for a missing lug nut. During the lengthy visits to pit road, Hornaday lost three laps to the leaders and would be forced to battle back through the remainder of the night.
By the time the caution fell on lap 146, Hornaday had managed to race his way back to within one lap of the leaders, but a communication miscue resulted in the #32 pitting too early and being forced to restart from the tail-end of the longest line. Hornaday continued to battle back from adversity, but his time was cut short when the caution came out on lap 197 for rain and NASCAR was forced to bring the cars down pit road on lap 200. After persistent, heavy rain ended NASCAR's effort to dry the track, the race was called and #1 Johnny Sauter was declared the winner, trapping the #32 WINFUEL Chevy in 15th position.
"The WINFUEL Chevy was definitely one of the fastest cars on the track all night," Hornaday said. "We just killed ourselves a few times with the missed lug on the pit stop and me pitting too early. The car was good enough that we could have battled our way back on the lead lap, and maybe into the top-10, if the rain hadn't come. I really wish that we had gotten in the last 50 laps so that we could have gotten the finish that we were capable of."
This 4th of July weekend, the Braun Racing team returns to Daytona International Speedway under the lights for the final Superspeedway race of the season. Live coverage of the WINN-DIXIE 250 presented by Pepsi Co. begins this Friday, July 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.