DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 14, 2011) — Friday night’s Too Tough to Tame 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway was a mysterious battle for four-time champion Ron Hornaday and the No.33 Kevin Harvick Inc.(KHI) team. Hornaday fought both tight and loose conditions throughout the evening, but raced to a solid runner-up finish which moved him up four positions in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Driver Point standings.
In the mid-afternoon qualifying session, Hornaday scored a fifth starting position for the 147-lap evening event.
Just as the green flag waved, an accident in turn one involving seven trucks brought the field under the first caution of the night. Cleanup from the incident was quick and the 36-truck field returned to green-flag racing on lap four.
The first round of pit-stops for the No. 33 truck took place during the third caution period of the event at lap 26. Hornaday brought his KHI Chevrolet down pit road for four tires and a minor air-pressure adjustment. Excellent performance on pit road had Hornaday in fifth position for the restart on lap 30.
The yellow flag quickly waved again for a fourth time on lap 37. Hornaday, who had improved to the fourth position, used the caution flag as an opportunity to come down pit road to the attention of his crew for a another slight air-pressure adjustment. On the lap 40 restart Hornaday made slight contact with another competitor which caused the No. 33 to drop back two positions to sixth. The contact also resulted in damage to the splitter which gave the No. 33 team an unexpected element to battle throughout the remainder of the race.
When the caution flew at lap 59, crew chief Jeff Hensley brought his driver down pit road for four tires, an air-pressure adjustment and fuel. With another solid performance on pit road, the No. 33 pit crew sent Hornaday back on track to restart in the third position.
Hornaday took over the second position on lap 78 just as the sixth caution of the night was displayed. With the end of the race
drawing near, the competition heated up which led to another caution flag on lap 98. The accident on the front stretch involved Ricky Carmichael, Johanna Long and KHI teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. and caused NASCAR to bring out the red flag. With 45 to go, the green flag flew with Hornaday sitting third.
With the ninth caution waving for debris at lap 119, Hensley and Hornaday opted to stay on track, knowing they were going to be good on fuel. Restarting with 25 laps to go, Hornaday was once again in the second position and looking to overtake leader Kasey Kahne.
When the caution flag flew on lap 141, Hornaday rode out the yellow flag and got ready for the three remaining green-flag laps. At the green, Hornaday battled for the lead with Kahne but remained in the second position. The runner-up finish moved Hornaday to 6th place in the point standings, gaining more points than any other competitor in the battle for the series championship.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take the racing action to Martinsville (V.A.) Speedway for the Kroger 250 on April 2nd. Tune into SPEED at 2:00 p.m. EST.
Comments from driver, Ron Hornaday:
“I don’t know how we got the second-place finish, but I will take it any day,” Hornaday told the media after the race. “I owe this finish to Jeff Hensley and my team. They knew we picked up damage on that restart and kept me diggin’ for the remainder of the race. My pit crew was the fastest on pit road tonight and was able to gain spots for us to put us in good position for the restart.
“This was another one of the great points nights that we are going to need to win this championship. I know we are only three races into the season, but again, I will take this finish any day. We picked up four spots in the standings and are now only twelve points out. This was definitely a tough race but a great race here at Darlington.”