BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 22, 2011) — Ron Hornaday had high hopes heading into Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway to bring home a victory at a track that has eluded him in seven previous starts. The veteran driver fought a loose-handling No. 33 Champion Chevrolet Silverado for the entire 100-lap event but the Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team was able to capture a seventh-place finish and move up two positions in the championship point standings only 46 markers out of the lead.
Hornaday started in the third position for the VFW 200. As the green-flag dropped, Hornaday drove down into turn one fighting for the lead against pole sitter, Matt Crafton. The driver settled into the second position and the two drivers drove away from the rest of the field.
As the driver continued to sail around the 1.5-mile track, he reported that his Chevrolet was really loose and started to fall back from the second position. By the day’s first caution on lap nine for debris, Hornaday was scored in the seventh position.
Crew chief Jeff Hensley brought the No. 33 down pit road for four tires, fuel, a chassis adjustment and added a spring rubber to the left rear to help Hornaday’s handling conditions. With fuel-mileage strategy in mind, Hensley decided to bring Hornaday back down pit road to top off the Chevrolet with fuel.
The field went back to green-flag racing on lap 11 with Hornaday in the 25 position. By the time the second caution flag was displayed on lap 14 for a three-truck accident in turn four, Hornaday had picked up 11 positions and was scored in 14th. Hensley made the call for the driver to remain on track and to start saving fuel. When the field restarted on lap 16, Hornaday was running ninth after five trucks made a visit to pit road during the caution.
On lap 21, Hornaday reported back to Hensley that his truck was still too loose getting into the corners. By lap 30, the Silverado had fallen back to the 20th position. Scheduled green-flag pit stops started on lap 35 and as teams cycled through pit road, Hornaday gained track position and moved into the third position by the time the No. 33 team made their scheduled green-flag stop on lap 53. The team took four tires, fuel and added a spring rubber in the right rear but returned to the track in the 19th position.
The third caution flag of the day waved on lap 79 for debris with the No. 33 running in the 16th position and the first truck one lap down. As the field slowed, Hornaday radioed to his KHI crew that he was sideways getting into the corners. The driver brought the Champion Chevrolet to pit road for four tires, fuel and additional chassis adjustments to help alleviate the handling issues and returned to the track back in the 17th position.
Green-flag racing resumed with 18 laps remaining in the race but the field was brought back under caution on lap 87 for an accident on the backstretch involving the No. 13 truck of Johnny Sauter. The No. 33 Chevrolet had worked its way up to the 14th position prior to the caution but Hornaday reported the handling was still an issue and that the adjustments made on the previous stop needed to be reversed. The veteran driver made the move to pit road where the KHI crew reversed the adjustments and returned to the track for the restart.
As the field returned to full speed with 11 laps to go, Hornaday was in the 15th position. As the trucks raced down the backstretch, NASCAR waved the caution flag for the fifth time during the event for a hard crash involving five trucks in the front of the field. With five laps to go, Hornaday was scored ninth position when the field went back racing.
The sixth caution flag was displayed on lap 98 for debris. Hornaday, having picked up two positions before the caution, lined up in seventh for the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. The green flag waved and the No. 33 worked to maneuver his way forward. Just after the field took the white flag, an accident on the backstretch which involved teammate Nelson Piquet Jr. brought out the yellow flag and signaled the end of the event. Hornaday crossed the finish line in the seventh position, moving the driver up two positions in the Driver’s Point standings.
The Truck Series will race on a Wednesday night this week at Bristol Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200. Watch all the action live on SPEED at 8:00 p.m. ET and listen to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Chanel 90 and MRN Radio at 7:45 p.m. ET.
Comments from driver Ron Hornaday:
“This was a great point’s day for the No. 33 Champion Chevrolet. We will take this finish for the conditions that we fought all day long. We just couldn’t get the truck to handle right but I made sure to bring this truck home in one piece. We are excited to race under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway.”