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Keeping Pace

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - Bristol

Ron Hornaday goes for a sixth straight win Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. A victory in the O’Reilly 200 presented by Valvoline would give the 51-year-old Californian second alone in national win streaks.


Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 17, 2009) — Take it from ‘The King;” winning five NASCAR races in a row is very, very special. Richard Petty has been there, done that — twice, in fact.

“It’s hard enough to run five races in a row without any trouble,” said Petty, whose 1971 streak of five consecutive victories was matched Aug. 1 by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Georgia Boot Chevrolet). Petty won a phenomenal 10 straight races five years earlier en route to his second of seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships.

Hornaday goes for a sixth straight win Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. A victory in the O’Reilly 200 presented by Valvoline would give the 51-year-old Californian second alone in national win streaks, moving ahead of Petty and 1983 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Bobby Allison, who also won five straight in 1971.

Petty sees similarity between what Hornaday is accomplishing and Petty Enterprises in its prime. Hornaday is on top of his game but so is Kevin Harvick Inc.

“Right now, their equipment is one notch better than anybody else,” he said.

Tom Higgins, the retired motorsports columnist for the Charlotte Observer, calls Hornaday’s streak “almost an equal accomplishment to Richard’s five-race winning stretch. Petty competed against hard-driving rivals such as the Allison brothers, Bobby and Donnie, Buddy Baker and Chargin’ Charlie Glotzbach,” said Higgins. “Also in the fields were several colorful, fun-loving characters including James Hylton, Elmo Langley and Neil ‘Soapy’ Castles.

“Hornaday would have fit right in with this crowd.”

Hylton, still active as he turns 75 later this month, finished second to Petty at the Nashville Fairgrounds in win No. 4 of Petty’s 1971 streak. “He’s a manhandler; if the (truck’s) off, he makes the difference,” said Hylton of Hornaday. “He’s one tough racer.”

“I’ve had streaks and success before in my career but never anything like this,” said Hornaday, a two-time Bristol winner but not since 1998. “Kevin and DeLana give me the best equipment and have allowed (crew chief) Rick Ren to put together the best team. These guys have been together, for the most part, for two solid years and we have a good combination. We have been blessed with lots of success and I hope it continues.”

He added, “The competition in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has gotten tougher. It gets harder and harder every year to go out and compete with these guys.”

Petty gets the last word on Hornaday’s streak. “You have to have everything working your way, have faith on your side and you’ve got to do everything perfect,” he said. “I don’t think (Ron) will know what it means until it’s over; four races, five or 10, whatever. You just go along and do it.”

The Streaks
(Date of races, location, margin of victory. Source: NASCAR, Racing-Reference.info.com)

Ron Hornaday Jr.
6/19/09 Milwaukee   1.309 s
6/26/09 Memphis      .653 s
7/18/09 Kentucky     .135 s
7/24/09 Indianapolis  .202 s
8/1/09   Nashville        .944 s

Bobby Allison
5/30/71 Lowe’s          33.9 s
6/6/71   Dover            1 lap
6/13/71 Michigan       Caution
6/20/71 Riverside       59.3 s
6/23/71 Houston        2 laps

Richard Petty
7/14/71 Malta NY       2 laps
7/15/71 Islip NY         2 laps
7/18/71 Trenton NJ     23 s
7/24/71 Nashville        4 laps
8/1/71  Atlanta           Caution

Crew Chief Richie Wauters Returns To No. 51 Team And Driver Kyle Busch

Richie Wauters returns to the crew chief position for the Billy Ballew Motorsports No. 51 Miccosukee Resort/Red Top Auto Auction Toyota to be driven this week by Kyle Busch. Doug George, who guided Busch to wins at Fontana and Atlanta earlier this year, will move to the No. 15 Gateway Pharmaceuticals Toyota of Aric Almirola. Wauters and Busch won the O’Reilly 200 in 2008 and have combined for nine of the team’s 12 series victories.

Waters discusses the change and other Bristol thoughts in the following Q&A.

What about this week’s changes at BBM?
“Aric (Almirola) and I have built a good chemistry and in one respect, it is difficult due to the friendship we built and it is tough to walk away knowing how close we are to getting to Victory Lane and all that we’ve worked to build up his solid finishes. On the other hand, it is always great working with Kyle. We have a lot of history and nine wins together. He has unlimited talent and if you give him something to drive, he’ll win the race with it and that is what we are hoping to do is go back and repeat the win.”

Billy Ballew Motorsports generally is thought of as a speedway team.
“I feel our short-track program is better this year. We’ve done more local track practice to help develop our short-track program. Our intermediate-track program has always been strong but I feel our short-track program this year is just as good, if not better.”

This week’s truck has been fast in the past.
“We are bringing chassis No. 28 which we ran second in New Hampshire with Kyle last year and we were caught speeding leaving the pits. In Phoenix ’08 we led 90% of the laps and pitted at the end and just came up one lap short of the win at the end. We qualified second with the truck at Martinsville this year where we were fastest in practice but we came short on fuel at the end. We took the truck to Memphis and was again super fast finishing fourth and ORP where Aric finished third so we’re pretty confident in the chassis and hopefully we’ll get it set to where Kyle likes it and we’ll repeat what we did in 2008.”

What’s different about racing on concrete?
“Concrete is a rougher surface and is not heat sensitive. It doesn’t change from day to night. The track gets black with the more rubber down on it, making the truck tighter.”

How will Goodyear’s tire change affect this week’s race?
“I don’t know if the softer right side tire should have an overall effect on the grip. It may play into a different pit strategy of pitting twice if the tires wear out. We might have to make two pit stops for tires instead of the usual one and done (one pit stop for the event).”

Etc.:

Eight of 11 Bristol races have been won by drivers starting third or better. The race has been won from the pole three times — most recently in 2006 by Mark Martin and in 1997-98 by Ron Hornaday Jr. Hornaday, who hasn’t started worse than fifth in 14 races this season, led all 200 laps in 1997.

Rookie drivers continue to look for their first victory at Bristol Motor Speedway. Scott Speed had a shot a year ago, winning the pole and finishing third. Eventual Raybestos Rookie of the Year Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford) finished 34th and said he’s learned a lesson or two about driving at the track. “I had a really rough night last year and (it taught me) the balance between patience and aggressiveness,” Braun said.

Last year’s race saw Bristol records set for most caution periods (12) and caution laps (69).

Mike Skinner (No. 5 EXIDE Toyota) broke a winless streak dating to the 1997 season when he broke through at Bristol in 2005. The past four races have seen Skinner lead the most laps — 226 — of any driver.

The O’Reilly 200 has drawn entries from Brad Keselowski (No. 29 Chevrolet), Max Papis (No. 9 GEICO Toyota) and Ken Schrader (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota).  Keselowski finished sixth at Phoenix last fall in his most recent series appearance. Papis was 10th in his Auto Club Speedway debut earlier this year. Schrader holds the Bristol qualifying record at 126.922 mph.

Loop Data: Eight Reasons Why Hornaday’s A Long Shot At Bristol Motor Speedway

Eight statistical categories are factored into the formula that creates Driver Rating.

Since the inception of NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics in 2005, Ron Hornaday Jr. ranks first in exactly zero of those categories at Bristol Motor Speedway, including the all-telling Driver Rating stat.

Here’s the breakdown, category-by-category:

Wins: Though Hornaday is the only driver with multiple wins at Bristol, both came prior to the inception of Loop Data.

Finishes: Since 2005, he has an average finish of just 17.8.

Top-15 Finishes: Since the four Bristol races since 2005, Hornaday has finished in the top 15 only twice. In 2006, he finished 27th and last season he finished 24th.

Average Running Position: This is weighed most in the formula. Hornaday is seventh-best with a 12.4, which ranks behind notable entries Mike Skinner, Kyle Busch and Todd Bodine, all of whom have an Average Running Position in the Top 10.

Average Green Flag Speed: Hornaday ranks sixth in this category with a 114.860 mph average. Every driver above him eclipses the 115 mph mark.

Fastest Laps Run: Hornaday has run the fastest lap just 19 times at Bristol over the last four years, less than a fifth of leader Kyle Busch’s 101.

Most Laps Led: A per-race stat, Hornaday hasn’t done it once. In fact, he hasn’t led a lap at Bristol in the series since 1999.

Lead Lap Finish: Hornaday has finished on the lead lap in only two of his last four races. He finished 20 laps down in last year’s race, running just 183 of the 200 laps.

Driver Rating: All that adds up to a Driver Rating that’s a personal worst. Hornaday has a Driver Rating of 85.5, making Bristol his worst track in terms of Driver Rating – a full point lower than his second-worst track, Michigan International Speedway (86.6).

“Bristol has changed. Since they ground the track, it’s a lot different. When I was driving for Dale and Teresa (Earnhardt), it was very much move someone out of the way. I learned a lot about that track from Dale,” said Hornaday. “II say that I haven’t won a race at the “new” Bristol Motor Speedway.”

Wayne’s Words: Bristol No ‘Hold-The-Bottom’ Track Any Longer

“Bristol Motor Speedway always signals that the home stretch to the championship is beginning. The O’Reilly 200 is the last of three races in the state of Tennessee and in many seasons, it’s offered a window into who to watch over the final 11 races.

“Bristol always has provided exciting racing for a variety of reasons. The speeds are fast — almost speedway fast — and both driver and crew chief have to be on the top of their games since one mistake can put a team a lap down on the leaders in the blink of an eye.

“Historically, Bristol was a hold-the-bottom track. You had to be fast enough to keep your rivals behind you but if you weren’t, sooner or later you’d get shoved high and track position would go away quickly.

“That’s no longer the case since reconfiguration to progressive banking. Drivers now have choices — low, middle or high — and the past couple of races have seen many outside passes for position.

“Speedway-style rim-riding is in the equation now adding a new element to what might in the past have been the only way to defend against the pass.

“That’s not to say there won’t be plenty of Bristol-style rubbing. There will be.

“Bristol is the last of the three concrete-surfaced tracks on the 2009 schedule. No series driver has won Dover, Nashville and Bristol in the same season but one — Ron Hornaday Jr. — has conquered all three in his career.

“It will be interesting to see if he can win at Bristol for a third time and extend what’s become one of the most talked-about winning streaks in recent NASCAR history.”
- Wayne Auton, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director

Rookie Battle

Raybestos Rookie Of The Year Standings

      Driver                  Points
1.   Tayler Malsam       155
2.   Johnny Sauter        151
3.   James Buescher     140
4.   Ricky Carmichael     93
5.   Brian Ickler              67
6.   J.R. Fitzpatrick        61
7.   Brent Raymer          45
8.   Chris Jones             45
9.   Chase Austin          16
10. Ryan Hackett            5

Manufacturers’ Standings

The 2009 season hasn’t been a great one for Ford. The manufacturer has won just once, when Colin Braun scored Roush Fenway Racing’s 50th series victory in June at Michigan.

Perhaps Bristol offers Ford the possibility of redemption. Fords have won three times at the .533-mile track most recently in 2006 when Mark Martin drove Roush Fenway’s same No. 6 F-150 to Victory Lane.

Toyota, one point behind Chevrolet in a close championship battle, has three wins in the past four Bristol races. Chevrolet has five victories but none since 2003.

Get Your Vote In!

Plenty of time remains in the battle for the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Most Popular Driver title but don’t forget to cast your ballot. Polls opened July 6 and nearly 16,000 votes have been cast. Time runs out Oct. 31.

Johnny Benson took home the honors last year, the first time fans had a hand in the selection process. Visit NASCAR.com to vote or to write in your favorite driver. If they’re not among the nominees write to fanfeedback@nascar.com.

Up Next: Chicagoland

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series welcomes Chicagoland Speedway to the schedule on Aug. 28. The Chicagoland 200 is the first of two inaugural events in back-to-back-weekends. A trip to Iowa Speedway follows on Sept. 5.

The 1.5-mile track has been a part of the NASCAR national scene since its completion in 2001. This year’s NCWTS race shares the weekend with the Indy Racing League.

The race also marks the series’ first trip back to the area since 2001 when the second of two races were held at the defunct Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero, Ill.

Winners at the 1.0-mile track were Joe Ruttman and Scott Riggs.

Fast Facts

Next Race: O’Reilly 200 presented by Valvoline

The Place: Bristol Motor Superspeedway

The Date: Wed., August 19, 2009

The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET

Race Distance: 106.6 miles / 200 laps

TV: SPEED, 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM. Listen locally on WFHG-AM 980

Track Layout: .533-mile Oval

2008 Winner: Kyle Busch

2008 Polesitter: Scott Speed

Schedule: Wednesday: Practice, 10 - 10:50 a.m. and  12 - 1:30 p.m.; Qualifying, 4:40 p.m.

2009 Standings
Rk Driver                  Points
1   Ron Hornaday Jr. 2,293
2   Matt Crafton        2,077
3   Mike Skinner       2,045
4   Todd Bodine        1,927
5   Brian Scott          1,920
6   David Starr          1,867
7   Tayler Malsam     1,831
8   Dennis Setzer      1,815
9   Colin Braun          1,804
10 Rick Crawford       1,785


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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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