Hornaday, Jr., Winds Way to NCTS Kentucky Win
Two-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., wound his way through a 38-truck field from the 22nd starting spot and picked up his first Kentucky Speedway win tonight in the "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" in front of a crowd of 21,889.
Hornaday, Jr., (No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet) took his first of three race leads on Lap 55 and drove among the top five until he made his final pit stop on Lap 100 of 150. Racing on old tires, the Palmdale, Calif., veteran tapped his restart expertise twice in the final 12 laps to hold off charges from eventual second-place finisher Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Corral Ford), third-place finisher Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 The Orleans Dodge) and fourth-place finisher Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Tundra Toyota) who were locked in a three-wide battle for position in the closing laps.
Hornaday, Jr., beat Crawford to the finish line by 0.586 of a second to register the third-closest series victory in seven events at the track. He also posted the greatest improvement from a starting position by a Kentucky Speedway NCTS winner.
"I've always stunk at qualifying, but have been good on restarts," Hornaday, Jr., said. "If I tell you what I do on the restarts, then everyone will know and I won't be good anymore. So, I'm not going to tell you."
His second victory of the season helps him vault four positions in the series standings to sixth and gives him a total of four top-five and six top-10 finishes through 13 races.
"I put myself in a position to win here tonight," he said. "We worked hard on the truck all day. We didn't know what to expect in qualifying and when the green flag dropped, we had pretty good luck.
"We ran a long time on old tires. With 20 to go, Rick (Crawford) really ran up our tailpipe coming out of Turn 2, but a couple of yellows bunched us up. We were able to get some clean air on the restarts and I was able to race flat-footed for the last few laps."
Crawford maintained the fifth spot in the series standings with his second straight second-place finish, third top-five and ninth top-10 performance of the season. He also gained a bit of redemption after ending his then series record 210-race consecutive start streak here last season when he sustained injuries during a qualifying run and was not medically cleared to start the race.
"We are very, very satisfied. We brought a good truck tonight and put on a good show," he said. "Our guys were awesome, they did a good job in the pits getting us from 23rd to second. I tried my best to make a move on Ron. I think our truck was a bit better, but when Brendan drove it up on the outside I knew that I could not run and fight Ron. I don't care who we're racing, I just want to compete. That's what we did today."
Gaughan collected his second straight top-five and third top-10 finish of the season.
"I'm excited. This was good old-fashioned racing," he said. "I had a chance to win but just didn't have enough. We do something that nobody else does with transmissions and I go to the high side. I screwed up with two laps to go and tried to go low in Turn 3. I shouldn't have done it. That's what cost us second."
Series leader Todd Bodine closed out the race 10th. He will enter the series July 15 race at Memphis Motorsports Park with a 133-point lead over second-place driver David Reutimann in the series standings. Kentucky Speedway concludes its 2006 race season August 12-13 with high-speed Indy Racing League IndyCar Series and IndyPro Series action. The weekend begins August 12 at noon with "97.5 WAMZ-FM Pole Day" featuring practice and qualifying sessions for both series. The final race day of the season will spotlight the IRL IndyPro Series 100-mile race at noon, the IRL IndyCar "Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret" at 4:00 p.m., and a postrace concert with country music group Hot Apple Pie on the Turn 1 music stage.
Tickets for the event are on sale now and can be reserved online at www.kentuckyspeedway.com, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), through all Meijer stores and at the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices located at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Suite 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and the Fan Center off of I-71 Exit 57 and Ky. Rte. 35 in Sparta, Ky.
Story by Bonnie Bastian and Mike Schmaltz
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