MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 3, 2011) — The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to action this weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for the Kroger 250 where four-time champion Ron Hornaday was looking to find his way back to victory lane for the first time since capturing the win back in October. The No. 33 Cooked Perfect Meatballs Chevrolet was able to race with consistency around the 0.526-mile oval and bring home a third-place finish, Hornaday’s 12th top-10 finish in18 races at Martinsville.
After scoring a 10th place starting position in the morning’s qualifying session, the green flag waved and the action was underway at the famed ‘paper-clip’ track. Hornaday was notably aggressive as he made his way around the track picking up three positions in four laps. At the track known for beating and banging the first of 13 cautions was brought out on lap 17 for an accident off of turn three. Too early in the race to pit, the team stayed out to put more laps on the current set of tires. Hornaday reported to his Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team that he was battling tight conditions entering the middle of the corners.
The field returned to green-flag racing at lap 22 and Hornaday continued to pick up positions placing the No. 33 Cooked Perfect Meatballs Chevrolet in the fifth position when the second caution flag was brought out at lap 45. The race was back underway at lap 47 and Hornaday placed himself in the third position before lap 48.
The first pit stop for the team was during the third caution flag on lap 57. Hornaday spoke with crew chief Jeff Hensley stating that his truck was way too tight. With an air-pressure adjustment, four fresh tires and fuel, Hornaday was ready to tackle the field. Since the majority of his competitors elected to stay out during this caution period, Hornaday took the green flag on lap 61 in the 17th position.
The four fresh tires allowed Hornaday to charge through the field, picking up 14 positions over the next 28 laps. At lap 89 the No. 10 truck spun in turn 4 which brought out the fifth caution flag of the day. Hornaday now in third place stayed out for the five lap caution period. Lap 95 was the money lap for Hornaday as he catapulted to the front to take the lead.
Leading the field for the next 29 laps, the No. 33 Cooked Perfect Meatballs machine was looking strong, but Hornaday was still battling tight conditions. The seventh caution of the 250-lap contest involved a five truck pile-up in turn one. A coinciding accident in turn 3 between the No.1 and No. 31 trucks resulted in a red flag. Held for nearly ten minutes for cleanup, Hensley, Hornaday and spotter Rick Carelli spoke over the radio to decide their strategy for the remaining 107 laps.
Following the leaders, Hornaday stayed out and took the lap 143 restart from the fourth position. On the eighth caution at lap 160, the driver came to pit road for chassis and air-pressure adjustments in addition to four tires and fuel. The race resumed with Hornaday in the 13th position.
The Cooked Perfect Meatballs Chevrolet continued to work its way back to the top of the field over the remaining 90 laps. With 26 laps to go, Hornaday had made it up to the sixth position when the 12th caution waved for debris. At lap 227 Hornaday restarted in the fifth position, charging towards the leaders. When the last caution of the day came at lap 243, the team opted for a final pit stop for four tires in an effort to continue their charge towards the lead as the field went back to green with only four laps to go. In the end, Hornaday collected a third-place finish moving the driver up one position in the championship point standings.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to the home of country music in Nashville (Tenn.) for the Bully Hill Vineyards 200 at Nashville Superspeedway on April 22nd. Tune into SPEED at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Comments from driver, Ron Hornaday:
“If I couldn’t win the race, I knew we had to make it a good point’s day and it turned out that way. We moved up one more position in the championship point standings. I have never raced so hard for third or fifth place. Restarting on the outside was tough, and with all the rubber getting on the tires, you would fall back and that’s not where we needed to be. To come home third after the brake issues and tire issues we battled this weekend really shows the caliber of this race team. It’s unbelievable to do what we did today.
“We had a great weekend with the No. 33 Cooked Perfect Meatballs Chevrolet and it was great to have them on board. We were able to enjoy some Meatballs for lunch before the race and they were pretty good. What a great partner to be associated with. Looking forward to seeing the Cooked Perfect Meatballs truck back in Bristol.”