BUSCH: Talladega: Ron Hornaday preview

The Calm Before The Storm Hornaday mentally prepared for Talladega Superspeedway NOTES OF INTEREST: * BREAK OUT THE GOOD CHINA...WE'RE PLATE RACING Ron Hornaday and the ACDelco Chevrolet head to Talladega (AL.) Superspeedway for...

The Calm Before The Storm
Hornaday mentally prepared for Talladega Superspeedway



Ron Hornaday and the ACDelco Chevrolet head to Talladega (AL.) Superspeedway for the Aaron's 312 looking for their first restrictor plate win. The Richard Childress Racing owned team is no stranger to running up front at the "big" tracks. And that is where ACDelco crew chief, Butch Hylton, says you need to stay. "You are never really safe at a track like Talladega because of the restrictor plate. You just don't have the power to get out of trouble and everyone is so bunched up," said Hylton. "But if we can keep Ron up front, that's the best place to be. Typically, the guys up front stay in line or they stay patient because they are already where they need to be. It's in the back where they start racing hard and that's where trouble starts."


One of the great debates in the world of NASCAR racing is are the driver's athletes? In deed the car provides the horsepower, but it's the drivers who push that machine to its limits. It's no different than a hitter in baseball. The bat actually does the work. But the batter controls the speed and therefore the outcome. While all tracks challenge a driver physically, none provide more of a mental strain than Talladega Superspeedway. "Talladega is the most mentally draining race of the year," said Hornaday. "When you're in three-wide packs, running close to 200 mph for two hours, it wears you out mentally. Physically, it's pretty easy, other than the heat. But you have to stay focused and think ahead. If you lose your concentration for a split second, you get the 'Big One'. It doesn't take much when you're running two inches from the guy in front of you and one inch from the car beside you, for bad things to happen."


ACDelco takes a hands-on approach to promote April's National Car Care Month and educate consumers about the benefits of proper vehicle maintenance and repair. ACDelco Warehouse Distributors in select markets will facilitate the campaign by securing sponsors and technicians to operate free vehicle inspections, along with other events, in communities nationwide. ACDelco driver Ron Hornaday knows the importance of proper maintenance. "I have three kids and all of them drive," said Hornaday. "One of the first tings I teach them is to check the tire pressure each time they get gas. That is one of the biggest things you can do and it is so easy. I also make sure they keep up with routine maintenance, like oil changes and inspections."


The ACDelco transporter will unload chassis No. 031 at Talladega Superspeedway. The car was built in the off-season and is the newest addition to the ACDelco fleet. Hornaday is coming off three straight top-10 finishes on the "plate tracks." Last year at Talladega, Hornaday put the ACDelco Chevy out front for several laps, before getting shuffled back and finishing fourth. In February, Hornaday finished 7th at Daytona International Speedway in chassis No. 031.

ACDelco Chevrolet Driver Ron Hornaday on Talladega Superspeedway

Racing at Talladega looks so exciting watching from the stands or on television. What's it really like?

"It's just as close and just as intense.  It's probably not as scary,
because I can't see the whole pack.  I can only see the cars out my
windshield.  But you can feel the others due to the air turbulence.
That's what you learn the more you race at the 'plate' tracks.  Earnhardt
said he could see the air.  I haven't seen it yet, but I can feel it.  By
the time my spotter has said 'outside', I have already felt it.  When he
says 'they have a run on you', I'm thinking no kidding.  My rpm just went
up 200.  It didn't do that by itself!"

Do you worry about the 'Big One' before the race, during the race or both?

"I don't know that you worry about it before the race. You know it can happen and based on things lately, it will happen. But I don't worry about it. I concentrate on staying ahead of it and working to stay with the lead pack and hopefully in a single file breakaway. During the race you worry in the back of your mind. As a racer, you know when you are somewhere that you don't want to be. If you're in the pack and the cars in front of you start moving around and bouncing into each other, it's time to find a way out. You know it's a matter of time, so that's when you say to yourself, I've got to get out of here, now! Sometimes you can and other times you just brace for the impact."

You will have an RCR NASCAR Busch Series teammate in Clint Bowyer this week. But you also have RCR teammates in Robby Gordon and Johnny Sauter. How big a help will that be?

"You have to have someone to work with and having an actual teammate helps. But you still need them to be just as strong as you for it to work. At Talladega last year, Johnny (Sauter) got involved in the big crash, so I was all alone. I tried to work with others and we did to some degree. Clint's a rookie and this is his first race at Talladega, so we just have to wait and see. I'm pretty sure he will work with us. As for Robby (Gordon) or Johnny (Sauter)...They race for other teams in the Busch Series, so all bets are off. I'm sure during the race we might hook up, but it won't last for long. It didn't at Daytona in February and it won't at Talladega."


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Drivers Robby Gordon , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Clint Bowyer
Teams Richard Childress Racing