By Jared Turner
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(July 5, 2011)
If ever all the stars seemed to be aligning for Ron Hornaday, it might be now.
In addition to having a little extra kick in his step as the Camping World Truck Series’ most recent winner, Hornaday has historically made the next stop in the series one of his best.
Hornaday won at Kentucky Speedway, site of Thursday night’s UNOH 225, in 2006 and 2009.
The latter victory, which came from the pole, was Hornaday’s third in a record-breaking five-race win streak that propelled him to his record fourth truck championship.
Now, firmly in contention for title No. 5, Hornaday and crew chief Jeff Hensley are ready for the first truck race since their win last month at Texas.
“It was really great to bring home a win for KHI and for everyone who is a part of this No. 33 team,” Hornaday said of his victory at Texas. “Jeff Hensley and the guys have been working really hard on these trucks, and this win is momentum for this race team.”
Hornaday’s 48th truck win—his first of the season—moved him up three spots to third in the standings, 33 points behind leader Johnny Sauter. Had it not been for a 25-point penalty issued to Hornaday and his Kevin Harvick Inc. team for using an unapproved rear-end gear ratio at Charlotte in May, Hornaday would be in second.
Still, Hornaday is enjoying a much-improved season over 2010 when he won twice but finished a lackluster seventh in the standings.
Kentucky, a high-speed 1.5-mile track, could be just the place for Hornaday to make it back-to-back wins. Even if that doesn’t work out, Hornaday and his team look forward to getting a second crack at Kentucky on Oct. 1.
“Kentucky is one of my favorite tracks,” Hensley said. “I am excited about going there. I’ve always wanted to race there more than once a year and finally this year we’ll get to do it. It’ll be nice to have two shots at the win. We get an extra practice session this weekend that we aren’t used to having. Since we don’t get to test too much anymore, it will be nice to have that extra session.”
Hornaday is the only two-time winner in Kentucky’s 11 races. He’s also the only former Kentucky winner to win from the pole. He clearly knows what it takes to be successful there, having recorded four top 10s in six starts.
“Kentucky is a really fast racetrack and has really unique characteristics with the bumps,” he said. “I’ve got two wins at the track and will definitely be going for my third. The fans have always been so great and supportive at this track, and with all three (NASCAR) series there this weekend, they will really have a great experience.”
What: UNOH 250
Where: Kentucky Speedway; Sparta, Ky.
When: Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: Speed, 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 90
Track layout: 1.5-mile oval
Race distance: 167 laps/250.5 miles
Qualifying: Thursday, 3:05 p.m. ET
Points leaders: 1. Johnny Sauter, 326; 2. Cole Whitt, 306; 3. Ron Hornaday, Jr., 293; 4. Austin Dillon, 291; 5. Matt Crafton, 285; 6. Timothy Peters, 280; 7. James Buescher, 279; 8. Parker Kligerman, 270; 9. Joey Coulter, 254; 10. Brendan Gaughan, 245.