Ron Hornaday went into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) as a dark horse with advertised odds of 25-1. Hornaday, a four-time series champion, has a history of working odds against him to his favor. However, Saturday night, the circumstances that kept him from overcoming those odds were beyond his control. Hornaday lost two engines over the course of the weekend which relegated the Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff No. 9 to a 27th-place finish in Sin City.
Joe Denette Motorsports (JDM) welcomed Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff back aboard the No. 9 Chevrolet for their second race of the 2012 season. The event marked the 17th race on the 22-race NCWTS schedule and marked Hornaday’s 317th series start.
In the series’ only two-hour practice session on Friday afternoon Hornaday posted the 12th-fastest time early on and only reported that the truck was loose. After the JDM crew made adjustments to the Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet for Hornaday, he assured the team the loose condition had been remedied through turns one and two, but that he was still a tick free through turns three and four.
After coming to the NCWTS garage for another round of adjustments, Hornaday hit the track once again only to find much more work ahead of he and the JDM team when they lost an engine only a few laps into the run. Hornaday ended the session 21st on the charts with a 31.478 (171.548 mph).
Fortunately, the JDM team was able to get the engine changed before NCWTS qualifying on Friday evening. With a fresh power plant under the hood, Hornaday took the Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff No. 9 out 14th in 16th Annual Smith’s 350 qualifying. The two-time LVMS pole-winner posted a fast lap of 31.226 (172.933 mph), which lined him up on the outside of the tenth row in the 20th starting spot.
When the 34-truck NCWTS field took the green flag in Saturday night’s Smith’s 350 at LVMS, Hornaday put his Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet on the move and was already up three positions to 17th on the leader board when the first caution of the night fell at lap two. During the early caution Hornaday radioed to crew chief Terry “Richie” Snyder that the truck was a little free. Snyder chose to keep the No. 9 on track during the first caution of the night and Hornaday restarted 16th when the field took the green flag once again on lap four.
The second yellow flag flew just a few circuits later at lap seven of 146 while Hornaday was running solidly in the 17th-position. After a brief caution period the field went back green one lap later at lap eight. By lap 12 Hornaday advanced the No. 9 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet three more positions to 14th on the leader board. Hornaday remained in the position when the third caution of the night waved at lap 15.
Hornaday once again stayed out with the leaders under the caution, only reporting to the crew that the No. 9 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff machine wasn’t bad. Hornaday took the green flag from the “lucky” 13th-position on the restart at lap 18.
As the laps continued on, the restart actually proved to be quite unlucky for Hornaday as his second engine of the weekend expired and he was forced to bring the Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff No. 9 Chevrolet to the garage at lap 21 and relegated to a 27th-place finish behind race-winner Nelson Piquet, Jr.
Matt Crafton, Joey Coulter, Brendan Gaughan and Todd Bodine rounded out the top-5 finishers.
Ron Hornaday Quotes: “When we unloaded this weekend, we weren’t too far off. We made a few minor changes and really had the truck handling the best it has been all season. It’s unfortunate that we had the problems we did. The guys worked hard and we had a good truck. It seems like once we get one thing figured out, something else crumbles at our feet. I can’t begin to describe how disappointed I am.”
Notes: Hornaday fell two positions from 10th to 12th in the 2012 NCWTS driver point standings after his 27th-place finish in Saturday night’s 16th Annual Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, nine points outside the top-ten and 143 points behind leader, Ty Dillon
Team owner Joe Denette also fell two positions from 12th to 14th in the owner point standings, just five points behind 13th-place
After 17 races in 2012, Hornaday has 10 top-15 and six top-10 finishes with an average start of 13.6 and an average finish of 15.2
Up Next: The NCWTS will take to the track again Saturday, September 6 from Talladega Superspeedway for the Coca-Cola 250. Hornaday has one pole and four top-10 finishes at the 2.66-mile oval and will be looking to record his first series win at the historic venue. Don’t miss all the action, LIVE on SPEED beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.