BUSCH: Pikes Peak: Ron Hornaday preview

Ron Hornaday Climbing the Mountain HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 26, 2004) - Six in a row. That's the top-10 streak that ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday has accumulated over the past month and a half. After a very frustrating Dover...

Ron Hornaday
Climbing the Mountain

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 26, 2004) - Six in a row. That's the top-10 streak that ACDelco Chevrolet driver Ron Hornaday has accumulated over the past month and a half. After a very frustrating Dover (Del.) weekend on June 5, Hornaday has been driving like a man on a mission. He has one win (Milwaukee, WI.), three top-fives and six top-10's in the last six races. The string of consecutive top-10 finishes has vaulted the ACDelco Monte Carlo from 10th in points following the Dover race to third after New Hampshire.

"We are running a lot better now than we did at the beginning of the season," said Hornaday. "We are so close to being the dominant car week in and week out. We just need to put it all together, like we did at The Milwaukee Mile." Despite not having it "all together", the ACDelco team has managed to score the most points of any NASCAR Busch Series team over the last six races. Hornaday has led in four of his last five races. "It has been little things that have hurt us," said Hornaday. "I really think we could have won at least three of the last five races. But I'm sure there are a couple other teams that feel the same way."

Pikes Peak International Raceway has been one of Hornaday's best tracks in the past. He won the 1998 NASCAR Truck Series event at PPIR and has never finished outside the top-10 in any race on the Colorado "d-shaped" track. Last year, Hornaday led most of the event before an adjustment on pit road turned the car from perfect to very loose. It is something he hopes won't happen this weekend. "Last year we shot ourselves in the foot," said Hornaday. "I expect we will have better aim this time around."

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.

* PPIR Track Stat...Hornaday's average NBS finish in four visits to PPIR is seventh. His average starting spot is fifth. He has never finished outside the top-10 in any event (six starts) at PPIR. He has one victory at the track. On July 25, 1998, Hornaday beat Tony Raines to the line on a G-W-C finish to score his fifth of six NASCAR Truck Series (NCTS) wins during that season. The victory propelled him to his second NCTS championship at year's end.

* Momentum...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 six straight top-10 finishes and rallied to third in points, just 338 points out of first. Hornaday has scored the most points of any NBS driver over the last six races.

* What ya' Haulin'...The ACDelco transporter will unload chassis No. 29 at PPIR. The Robertson chassis was last raced at Kentucky Speedway, where Hornaday finished fourth. It also scored a top-five at Nashville (TN.) Superspeedway and led much of the race at Nazareth (PA.) Speedway before finishing 11th due to a problem on pit road.

* Last year at PPIR... Hornaday held the pole position in qualifying until late in the day when Bobby Hamilton, Jr. took the top spot. Hornaday started the race in the third, but quickly took the lead. He led the most laps, but a loose condition late in the race dropped him to seventh at the finish.

* Did you know...Ron Hornaday is a second generation NASCAR driver. His father, Ron Hornaday, Sr. dominated NASCAR West and is a former series champion. And his son, Ronnie Hornaday III, is the car chief for Ted Musgrave's NCTS entry and has made several NCTS starts and one NBS start. But that's not where the racing stops in the Hornaday household. Hornaday's father in law is "Wild" Bill Foster, who is a California legend, winning at all the local short tracks in the 1960's.

No. 2 ACDelco driver Ron Hornaday on Pikes Peak International Raceway...

You won at PPIR in 1998. So what's the key to this d-shaped oval?

"It's a combination of things. You have to get the car down into the track and make it turn all day. It seems like I say that at all the tracks, but with the downforce these bodies produce, it is easy to get very tight in traffic. At Pikes Peak, the tires wear out a little sooner than at other tracks, so you have to make them last. The track has the feel of Richmond (VA.), but since it is longer, it drives different. You also need a lot of motor, which we have at RCR."

You have raced from 10th in points to third in just six races. Do you have anything left for the top-two?

"I think we are racing the way we should have right out of the gate. We fell behind a little trying some of the things that we were told might work. Butch and I got together and said, lets do it our way and it has paid off. We are pretty far behind right now, but it is very easy to get cautious with a big lead. It has happened to me before in a championship battle. You think you can just turn it on and off, but if you stop charging, it bites you in this sport. Momentum is the key and if you loose it, things go south in a hurry. We have momentum right now. But to win this deal, those guys at the top are going to have to make mistakes. And I've seen it happen before."

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

How does the altitude of Pikes Peak International Raceway affect your approach to the setup?

"It makes a difference, but the good part is it's the same for everybody. The thin air does three important things to a race car. First, it makes less downforce. There is more there than you would think, but not what we saw at New Hampshire last week. Second, it makes it harder to cool the engine. We have to leave a lot more duct work open to get cool air to the motor. And finally, the engine tuner has to adjust the jets and the timing to account for the thinner air into the carburetor. RCR has raced out there a lot, so we think we have a pretty good feel for what it will take in the altitude."

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Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Ted Musgrave , Tony Raines , Ronnie Hornaday III