As the defending race winner, Ron Hornaday had high hopes heading into this weekend’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). Unfortunately, the night didn’t go as planned for Hornaday and his Joe Denette Motorsports (JDM) team. Just 37 laps into the 130-lap event, Hornaday’s No. 9 AMFMEnergy.com/Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet was caught up in a wreck that eventually ended the team’s night before the drop of the checkered flag.
The 130-lap battle under the lights at AMS was the 14th race on the 22-race NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule and marked Hornaday’s 314th series start.
Hornaday got a head start on the rest of the field as his first laps on track weren’t in his JDM No. 9 Chevrolet Silverado, but instead in the AMS/American Cancer Society pink Chevrolet Camaro pace car, giving rides to breast cancer survivors in attendance. Hornaday and fellow Team Chevy driver, Jamie McMurray escorted 36 survivors around the 1.54-mile oval as part of the “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” program.
In Friday morning’s first NCWTS practice session, Hornaday and the JDM team made big swings at their Chevrolet Silverado, finishing the session in the 22nd-position. In the second and final round of NCWTS practice at AMS, Hornaday reported his No. 9 Chevrolet was loose on entry and tight from the center of the corner and off. While most teams took this session to make mock-qualifying runs, the JDM crew adjusted Hornaday’s machine to run times comparable to session leaders and post the 27th-fastest time, on old tires.
In Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 qualifying, Hornaday, who holds the track record at 142.242mph, went out 17th and put the AMFMEnergy.com/Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet on the inside of row 10, in the 19th-position, with a fast lap of 31.840 seconds (174.121mph). The four-time series champion’s only complaint was that the truck was a little loose.
In the opening laps of the 130-lap NCWTS event, Hornaday set his sights on the front of the field and advanced four positions to the 15th in just the first five laps. By lap eight, Hornaday had moved the No. 9 machine up to 13th on the board and was posting lap times as fast as the leader.
During the first green-flag run of the race, Hornaday reported to the JDM crew that his Chevrolet Silverado was loose on entry and exit but his lap times remained consistent with the leaders pacing the field. Hornaday briefly fell back to 15th on the leader board but was back up to 14th when the first caution of the night flew at lap 31.
Crew Chief Terry “Richie” Snyder used the caution to their advantage and called Hornaday to pit road to combat their loose condition with four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment. Hornaday restarted the event from the 17th position when the green flag flew at lap 35.
Just two laps later, the second caution of the event waved at lap 37 and this time Hornaday wasn’t able to make his way through cleanly and was collected by the No. 2 machine of Tim George, Jr., who made contact with the turn four outside retaining wall. Hornaday brought his battered Chevrolet Silverado to pit road for repairs with extensive damage to the right front.
When he rejoined the field, Hornaday was scored four laps down to the leader and was only able to make a few laps under caution before having to bring his Chevrolet Silverado back down pit road and into the garage for more work. After the JDM pit crew worked for several laps on the front end of Hornaday’s machine, he finally made his way back out to join the Grit Chips 200 field at lap 81.
Unfortunately, Hornaday was forced down pit road just one lap later to repair a dragging cross member under the chassis of the No. 9 Chevrolet. When he rejoined the field again at lap 91, Hornaday was scored 29th, 51 laps down. At lap 94 Hornaday retired his AMFMEnergy.com/Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup machine to the garage for the remainder of the event, due to a major vibration.
When the checkered flag fell at lap 130, Hornaday was scored in the 30th position behind winner, Ty Dillon. Kyle Busch, James Buescher, Parker Kligerman and Aric Almirola completed the top-five.
Ron Hornaday Quotes: “We didn’t unload where we should have this weekend but the guys really pulled together and figured this thing out. We were loose in qualifying but once we got into the race, we were fast! The first 8 to 10 laps of a run the truck was spot on and I was running lap times as fast as the leader. We made up a lot of ground and I was pretty happy with the truck until we were taken out of contention. The 2 truck went down the track and I went up trying to figure out where he was going and clipped his left rear. He spun and the rest is history. We made it back out but there was too much damage to contend with. I hate it for everyone on this Joe Denette Motorsports team, all the guys worked so hard to get this thing right and for our night to end this way is heartbreaking.”
Notes: Hornaday dropped from eighth to ninth in the 2012 NCWTS driver point standings after Friday night’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, 61 points outside the top-five and 92 points behind leader, Timothy Peters
Hornaday’s 30th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway marked his first finish of the season outside the top-20 since his 27th-place finish at Dover International Speedway on June 1.
Team owner Joe Denette fell two positions to eleventh in the owner point standings, just one point behind tenth-place
After 13 races in 2012, Hornaday has an average start of 13.1 and an average finish of 13.1
Up Next: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take a week off before heading to Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa for the American Ethanol 200 on Saturday, August 15. Hornaday has 4 starts at Iowa Speedway, including a top-10 with Joe Denette Motorsports in July. Don’t miss all the action, LIVE on SPEED beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET.