Veteran Ron Hornaday’s night ended early after a blown tire and late-race incident ended his hopes for a top-10 finish in the N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
During sunny skies early Friday afternoon, Hornaday took to the track for qualifying where he would lay down a lap of 30.318 to give him a top-25 starting position.
Under the Friday night lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hornaday took the green flag from the 22nd position and quickly gained spots in the first few laps. In only three laps, the four-time Champion was up to the 15th position. As the first caution came out on lap 17, Hornaday told his crew he was having handling issues. Crew chief Bruce Cook felt it was too early in the race for tires, so he called Hornaday down pit road for fuel only.
When the field returned to green, it was a mix of old tires, two new tires or a set of four new tires. The guys with fresher tires began passing Hornaday as Cook told him he was doing a good job and they would get him fixed up on the next stop.
The caution flew again on lap 73 giving Cook the chance to bring his NTS Motorsports driver down pit road. The No. 9 crew made a great stop gaining two spots while they changed four tires, filled it with fuel, made a trackbar adjustment and pulled tape from the grill. Hornaday restarted from the 13th position.
As the caution flew on lap 84, the driver of the No. 9 requested a little more of the last adjustments and Hornaday returned to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. The veteran restarted 14th and set sail racing three wide with eventual winner Kyle Busch.
A few laps later, Hornaday called to the crew that he had a flat tire and before he could get to pit road he was hit in the rear-end by a competitor to bring out the fifth caution. The No. 9 crew went to work on pit road to fix the damage. Hornaday returned to the track five laps down, but felt the truck still was not tracking right. Cook told him to take it to the garage where the NTS Motorsports crew met him to survey and repair the damage the best they could. Hornaday would return to the track and complete a few more laps before calling it a night and finishing in the 30th position.
“I can’t say enough about Bruce Cook and my NTS Motorsports crew. We had just found something really good and were headed to the front when I had a tire go down. They did everything they could to fix the damage and get me back out there to gain Championship points. It just wasn’t our day here at Charlotte. We’ll take the week off and head to Dover.”
NTS Motorsports PR