Rain was the word of the extended weekend at Kansas Speedway. For the second time in 2009, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was forced to postpone their event until Monday. Ron Hornaday and the No. 33 Copart/Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) Chevrolet team qualified on the pole for the first time in 2009. Varying pit strategies and more rain resulted in a fourth place finish for the No. 33 team as the race ended under red-flag conditions.
“I thought our pit strategy was going to work out,” said Hornaday as the rain fell. “We had the freshest tires of anyone out there. Rick Ren (crew chief) made a good call. Had we have gone to the end of this thing; I think we would have been the truck they were all chasing. It’s really frustrating to race this way, but you can’t control Mother Nature. I just want to thank all of my guys on this Copart team. I had an awesome truck, I just hate we didn’t get the chance to show what we had there at the end.”
Saturday’s event began under ominous skies. In the early laps, Hornaday battled longtime rival Mike Skinner for the lead. The first caution of the race waved at lap three for a spin by Hornaday’s KHI teammate Ricky Carmichael. Following the restart on lap six, Hornaday grabbed the lead for the first time. The No. 33 truck took a commanding lead pulling away from the field by 10 truck lengths.
The first set of pit stops for the field began at lap 39. The No. 33 team decided to take four tires then come back the following lap to fill the truck full of fuel. The rain came at lap 45 putting the field back under the yellow flag and eventually leading to a red flag at lap 52. NASCAR officials decided to reschedule the remainder of the race until Monday.
Following a day off, the No. 33 team was ready to complete what they started. Under red-flag conditions NASCAR normally does not allow teams to touch their race vehicles. However, in this instance NASCAR did allow each of the teams to fill their trucks with fuel, bringing teams back to a level playing field as far as fuel mileage was concerned.
Restarting in the fourth position at lap 61, Hornaday quickly showed the strength of the No. 33 truck moving to second spot in less than a lap. A caution at lap 71 proved to be the turning point of the race. Several trucks came down pit road to take fuel only. The No. 33 team decided to take four tires, waiting to come down pit road for fuel at the competition caution on lap 85. On lap 90, Hornaday resumed the lead and began to pull away from the pack.
With the threat of rain on the horizon, the No. 33 team could not make it to the end of the race on fuel. Crew chief, Rick Ren felt that tires were vital in order to beat the leaders and resume the lead. The No. 33 came down pit road at lap 113 to take four tires. The team came back down pit road on lap 115 to top off the tank in the event the race made it the complete distance. Leaders Skinner and Brian Scott opted not to take tires. On the restart, Skinner pulled out to a two second lead on the field.
Hornaday restarted in the ninth position, but by lap 120 had moved into the fourth spot. Two laps later, NASCAR threw the caution for rain. The race ran under caution until lap 132 when the red flag was displayed. The rain continued to fall and NASCAR decided to end the event 35 laps shy of the advertised race distance. The No. 33 Copart Chevrolet ended the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 in the fourth position, gaining one spot in the point standings, moving to second. Hornaday remains 25 markers out of the lead position behind Skinner. Skinner went on to win the rain-shortened event followed by Johnny Benson, Brian Scott, Hornaday and Brian Ickler.
April 27, 2009 - Kansas Speedway
Race: 5 of 25
Driver: Ron Hornaday
Truck Series Point Standings: 2nd (+1)
Next on the Schedule for the No. 33:
Date: May 15, 2009
Track: Lowe’s (NC) Motor Speedway
Event Name: North Carolina Education Lottery 200
Driver: Ron Hornaday
Broadcast Time: SPEED and MRN 7:30 p.m., EST