BUSCH: Nashville II: Ron Hornaday race notes

HORNADAY, WINFUEL TEAM BATTLE ADVERSITY TO FINISH 14th IN NASHVILLE LEBANNON, TN (June 13, 2005) -- Earlier this season, Braun Racing recorded one of its best finishes of the year when the ...


LEBANNON, TN (June 13, 2005) -- Earlier this season, Braun Racing recorded one of its best finishes of the year when the #32 WINFUEL Chevy finished third at Nashville in March, but this time around many things were different. The WINFUEL team returned to Nashville without the driver, or even the car, that gave them so much success the first time around.

Last week, Braun Racing announced that two-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Champion Ron Hornaday would fly to Nashville Friday night after competing in the NCTS race at Texas to drive the #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet at Nashville Superspeedway. Since Hornaday was in Texas preparing for the Craftsman Truck race on Friday, driver Johnny Sauter helped out the Braun Racing team by practicing both his car and the #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet. During the first practice, Sauter paced the 1.333 mile track in 30.561 seconds to place the WINFUEL Chevy 15th on the board.

On Saturday, NASCAR Busch Series teams arrived at the track to find dark clouds and rainy conditions hovering over the Nashville Superspeedway. The afternoon's qualifying session was cancelled and the starting line-up was set by owner's points, which placed the #32 WINFUEL Chevy 21st on the starting grid. NASCAR officials attempted to get the race under way late in the evening, and the field even ran three pace laps under caution, before another persistent rain show forced the postponement of the event.

The clouds and rain finally broke on Sunday and the field was able to take the green flag for the Federated Auto Parts 300. The #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet got off to a blistering start, as driver Ron Hornaday quickly moved through traffic up to the 15th position by lap 17. Shortly after breaking into the top-15, while fighting loose conditions, Hornaday slapped the wall coming off of turn 4, causing right-front fender damage and knocking the toe out of the car.

"The WINFUEL guys gave me a car that was capable of winning the race today," Hornaday said. "Unfortunately, I got loose coming off of turn 4 at the beginning of the race and smacked the wall, but the WINFUEL crew did a great job to make repairs and adjustments throughout the race."

Throughout the remainder of the race, the WINFUEL crew continued to work the #32 Chevy, which caused them to give up important track position. Towards the end of the race, the leaders began making green-flag pit stops on lap 157, but the WINFUEL team decided to take a chance and stay out as long as they could to try and catch a caution before coming to pit road. Finally on lap 172, after losing precious time to cars with fresh tires, Hornaday brought the #32 to the attention of the WINFUEL team.

"There at the end when we stayed out to try and catch a caution," owner Todd Braun explained. "We had to take a risk to try and win the race. At one point, I think there was only one other car on the lead lap, but unfortunately we didn't get the caution and we lost a lot of time to the cars with fresh tires. We might have been able to get some more track position if we had pitted with everyone else, but we wouldn't have given ourselves a shot to win the race."

The next caution of the event came on lap 189, when the #32 was deemed the recipient of the "lucky dog" award, making the WINFUEL Chevy the last car on the lead lap in 19th position. By the end of the Federated Auto Parts 300, Ron Hornaday and the WINFUEL team were able to battle their way through traffic to capture a solid 14th place finish.

"We had a top-five car there at the end, and with one more adjustment I think we could have been up there racing with the leaders," Hornaday said after the race. "I want to thank WINFUEL, Chevrolet, Todd Braun, Todd Lohse, and everyone for giving me a chance to drive for them."

After enduring a tough stretch of disappointing finishes, WINFUEL team owner Todd Braun was happy to see his car cross the start-finish line and take the checkered flag at the end of the race. "After the bad luck that we've had over the past few weeks, it feels good to get a top-15 finish and to be able to take the car back to the shop in one piece," Braun said. "Hopefully now we can carry some momentum to Kentucky next weekend."

This coming weekend, Chad Blount will be behind the wheel of the #32 WINFUEL Chevrolet in Kentucky, where he will look to improve upon the second-place finish that he already scored in the ARCA race there earlier this season. Live coverage of the Meijer 300 from Kentucky Speedway begins this Saturday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FX.


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Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Chad Blount , Johnny Sauter