BUSCH: Rockingham: Ron Hornaday preview

Hornaday ready to chisel "The Rock" ACDelco Team excited to debut 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. February 17, 2003 (Rockingham, N.C.) Coming off a 16th place finish in the season opener at Daytona, ACDelco driver Ron Hornaday is ready to get...

Hornaday ready to chisel "The Rock"
ACDelco Team excited to debut 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

February 17, 2003 (Rockingham, N.C.) Coming off a 16th place finish in the season opener at Daytona, ACDelco driver Ron Hornaday is ready to get down to real racing at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. It also marks the first on-track action for the new aero-balanced 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. While RCR has extensively tested the new Monte Carlo with Kevin Harvick at the wheel, Hornaday has only tested the car in superspeedway trim for RCR's Winston Cup teams. But the ACDelco driver is excited to see just what the new car can do this weekend.

Despite the fact that North Carolina Speedway is typically not a track that aggressive drivers do well on due to the excessive tire wear, "The Rock" has been good to Hornaday. In 2000, he finished third in the spring race and despite racing for several different teams, he has run up-front in nearly every race and has never finished outside the top-20 in the NASCAR Busch Series events at the track.

Ron Hornaday, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet, comments on racing at "The Rock":

Daytona was your first race with the ACDelco team. How did you feel about your first weekend in the No. 2 car?

"It was a very positive weekend overall. We were very fast during the week and qualifying went well. I'm not sure what changed on Saturday but the car just felt completely different than what it had all weekend long. It pushed so bad getting in, that it wanted to snap loose coming off. I had my hands full early on, but the guys on this ACDelco team kept working on it and it actually drove pretty well on the final run, but we were too far back in the pack."

"I am so excited to be associated with RCR and ACDelco. I could feel it walking around the garage and when I did appearances. There is something very special about this team and I have never been more confident about my chances of winning races and a championship than I am this year."

You've run well at North Carolina Speedway in the past. What's the key to getting around "The Rock"?

"I don't think there is a key. You just try to survive. It is one of those tracks where you really race the track not the other cars. The tires lose grip early in a run and you just hang on from there, but that's what makes this track so competitive. The groove moves around here more than anywhere we race. The high groove seems to be the best on long runs, but the bottom can work for you as well. Hopefully this ACDelco Chevrolet will be fast right when we unload and we can just tweak it all weekend. I very excited about our chances this weekend."

This will be the first race for the 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the NASCAR Busch Series. Have you tested the car yet?

"I did a lot of the straight-line testing of the RCR Winston Cup cars out in Tempe, Ariz., but I haven't driven the car on a track yet. (Kevin) Harvick did the testing for the car at both Homestead, Fla. at the end of last year and at Las Vegas, Nev. a couple weeks ago. Both tests went very well and he said, 'Hornaday, this car is awesome'. We have a similar style and all the RCR Busch cars leave the track in the exact same configuration, so we should be fine."

"I know from talking to Kevin (Harvick) that the car has a lot more downforce than last years car, so that should really help us at Rockingham. Anytime you can get the nose to stick, you don't have to fight the wheel to get it to turn. This will help with tire wear which is always the key for this race."

How important is getting off to a good start early as far as the championship goes?

"I think it is very important, but you can't start points racing at Rockingham. Like any race, you get the best finish you can, but you still want to win races and lead laps so that's what you prepare for. We want to win races with this ACDelco team. That's the goal right now. If we do that and make sure we are running at the end of every race, then the points will work out in our favor."

DID YOU KNOW?

* In over 21 years of NASCAR racing, Ron Hornaday has only had one season (2001) in which he did not win at least two NASCAR races.

* Hornaday has won the most popular driver award in every NASCAR series he has run except for Winston Cup. (1992 Southwest Tour, 1994 Winston West, 1997 Truck Series, 2000 Busch Series.)

* ACDelco has won more NASCAR Busch Series awards than any other active sponsor. The Grand Blanc, Mich., based company won NASCAR Busch Series championships with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 1998 and '99 and also with Kevin Harvick in 2001. They also took the series Rookie-of-the-Year titles in 1997 with Steve Park and Harvick in 2000.

-rcr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Steve Park , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr.