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Keeping Pace

Wed., Nov. 18, 2009, 1 a.m.

Hornaday Seals Place In History, Wins Fourth Title Heading To Season Finale

Ron Hornaday Jr. celebrates his fourth victory and his second at Kentucky Speedway. (Photo Credit: John Sommers II/Getty Images for NASCAR) (John Ii / The Spokesman-Review)
Ron Hornaday Jr. celebrates his fourth victory and his second at Kentucky Speedway. (Photo Credit: John Sommers II/Getty Images for NASCAR) (John Ii / The Spokesman-Review)

This fourth title breaks his tie of three with friend and former competitor Jack Sprague. Sprague is the 1997, 1999 and 2001 series champion. Hornaday’s three previous titles came in 1996, 1998 and 2007.

Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 VFW Chevrolet) has further solidified his place in NASCAR history. By finishing fourth in this past Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, Hornaday clinched his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.

This fourth title breaks his tie of three with friend and former competitor Jack Sprague. Sprague is the 1997, 1999 and 2001 series champion. Hornaday’s three previous titles came in 1996, 1998 and 2007.

It also adds the 2009 champion’s name to a very distinctive yet short list of drivers to have won four national series championships. Only Hall of Fame Inductee Richard Petty, Hall of Fame Inductee Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon have claimed four.

“I couldn’t think of a better track. I love Phoenix,” said Hornaday. “It’s been fun and we’re not done. As long as Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) will still have me, we’re going to win some more.”

His owners, who share a unique friendship with Hornaday, are thrilled to celebrate their second title with the veteran driver.

“To see Ron win his fourth championship is unbelievable,” said DeLana Harvick.

“There have been a lot of challenges this year with the economy and to see Ron winning the championship is something that’s really neat,” added Kevin Harvick, who successfully defended his 2008 Phoenix truck win. “I know it’s rewarding for DeLana and I, but it’s more rewarding to watch these guys as a team and Ron as a person, as a friend, as an employee … there’s a lot of things that go with it and come into the equation. It’s just a lot of fun to see it evolve and come together.”

Owners’ Title Still On Line As Trucks Roll To Miami

Ron Hornaday Jr. might have clinched his fourth series title at Phoenix but one thing’s left on the table for the season finale this weekend at Homestead-Miami. For the first time in the series’ 15-year history, the coveted owners’ championship remains undecided.

Billy Ballew Motorsports’ No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts/Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota, piloted this season in 15 events by Kyle Busch, is only 60 points behind the No. 33 VFW Chevrolet owned by DeLana Harvick. Busch has collected seven wins, five of those coming in his last six starts.

“I can’t close the gap, I’ve got to take that gap,” said Busch. “Hornaday is going to go and try to win the race. They’ve got the driver’s championship locked up, so if they go out there and try to win the race and are successful at that, then we can’t catch them. But if they go out there and have problems, whether it’s a wreck or engine or a tire – it could be anything. It’s going to be hard to do, but hopefully we can battle it out and have a good, strong run and see if we can’t beat them.”

“It’s not over by far,” said Hornaday. “We’re racing Kyle (Busch) for the owners’ points, that’s the true goal.  That shows how great our team is. We’re going to do everything we can to hold him off down at Miami.”

Should Ballew win, it would be the first NASCAR championship for the owner. The title would be the second for Kevin Harvick Inc. owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick with Hornaday.

Loop Data: Stats Show KHI Duo Could Be Ones To Beat In Miami

Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornaday Jr. performed a rather unique – and memorable – celebration after Friday night’s Phoenix race – the tandem burnout.

Harvick won the race, Hornaday nabbed the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.

Well, in case you missed it, there could be a replay come this Friday night at Homestead.

Hornaday – in his No. 33 Chevrolet – could lock up the owner championship for owner DeLana Harvick, and Kevin Harvick has the stats to suggest yet another win.

In his last two races at Homestead, both in his own equipment, Harvick finished fourth and third. In the two races, he averaged a Driver Rating of 118.9, an Average Running Position of 4.1, 25 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 97.5%.

Statistically, two drivers look like the top candidates to stand in Harvick’s way – Kyle Busch and Hornaday, himself.

Busch hasn’t won at Homestead, but has done just about everything else. In three races there, he has an average finish of 4.0, a Driver Rating of 116.8, an Average Running Position of 7.4 and 59 Fastest Laps Run.

Hornaday has the most experience at Homestead, and practically each visit has been a productive one. In nine starts, he has eight top 10s, including a win in 2002. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, a span of four races, he has a Driver Rating of 104.1 and an Average Running Position of 7.6.

ThorSport Racing Celebrating Successful Season

With one race to go, ThorSport Racing is on the verge of wrapping up what has been a banner year for the Ohio-based team. ThorSport’s drivers, Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) and Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Fun Sand/Rodney Atkins/Curb Records Chevrolet), are both in the top five in the standings heading into Miami.

Crafton proved to be one of Ron Hornaday Jr.’s main threats this season in his bid for a record fourth title. The 33-year-old from Tulare, Calif., will finish the year second in the standings, his best finish in nine full seasons in the series.

New to ThorSport this season, Sauter has pulled out a commanding 232-point lead over Tayler Malsam (No. 81 One-Eighty Toyota) in what was for most of the year a tight battle for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors.

While in reality he’s anything but inexperienced, the Necedah, Wis., native is in his first full season in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition. Previously he had 11 starts between 2003 and 2008.

In 24 races this season, Sauter’s collected one win, six top-five and five top-10 finishes and gone from 27th in the standings to fifth. As it stands, he’s on track to score the second-best championship points finish by a rookie since Kurt Busch finished second in 2000.

Bodine Going For Repeat Performance At Homestead

Todd Bodine (No. 30 Copart Toyota) and his Germain Racing team seem to have it figured out when it comes to multiple wins at  various tracks on the circuit. This weekend is a prime example. He’s going for a third win at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His first win at the 1.5-mile track was in 2005. Last season, Bodine became the first repeat winner in the series at Homestead when he closed out 2008 in Victory Lane.

Fast forward to race No. 1 this season. Bodine became the first repeat winner in 10 races at Daytona International Speedway. Not a bad way to end and kick off a season.

“To win at the season opener, and the season finale, that's definitely a great way to bookend the year,” said Bodine. “It was great to do it in 2008, and I certainly hope we can do it again in 2009.”

Just last month Bodine was going for a third win in-a-row at Talladega. Kyle Busch kept him from accomplishing the three-peat. At Texas in June, Bodine became the first driver in the series to have five wins at the same track.

Winning the season finale also has unique bragging rights. "It's always big to win, first of all. That's what we go to the race track each week to do - win. But it's nice for the guys to walk around the shop in the wintertime with their chests bowed out.  Every week the winner is a winner for a week, and the next week there's another winner, and the next week there's another winner,” said Bodine. “Well, guess what, heading into the off season, we get to enjoy the last win for two, almost three months. It's important for the folks back at Germain Racing and it’s important to everyone involved at with our sponsor, Copart. I hope we can head into this off-season with the same kind of pride that we had after last year’s Homestead victory.”

Director’s Take: Wayne’s Words

“It’s hard to believe that we just have one race to go in the 2009 season. This year heading into the season finale we’ll know one thing, Ron Hornaday Jr. is the champion. Hornaday was able to lock up his record fourth title last week at Phoenix which was pretty cool to see. His third title in 2007 tied him with Jack Sprague for the most in the series. It’s amazing to see Hornaday become the series’ first four-time champion.

“Even though we have the driver champion squared away, the owners’ title is still up for grabs. Kyle Busch has had an incredible run in the No. 51 Toyota for Billy Ballew Motorsports. That team is only 60 points behind the No. 33 KHI Chevrolet team and DeLana Harvick. Those two teams are going to be fighting hard to bring that title home. After all, the two titles have never gone to two different teams. In the series’ 15-year history, it has always belonged to the driver champion team.

“Racing at this 1.5-mile track will show off some side-by-side and three-wide racing. The trucks will carry high speeds down the straightaways and through the turns.

“It’s been a great season. We’ve seen Hornaday set and break records as well as new drivers like Brian Scott, Colin Braun and Timothy Peters notch their first wins.

“Most of the teams will be looking forward to the upcoming holidays and some time off. But by about two weeks into the off season, everyone will be ready to get back to racing.

“So as they say, anything can happen and at Homestead, the unexpected always seems to happen. What is guaranteed is a great show for the South Florida fans that will pack the stands and for those watching on SPEED, they’ll get to see these trucks race under the lights one last time for 2009.” - Wayne Auton, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director

Raybestos Rookie Of The Year Standings
Rk Driver                   Points
1.  Johnny Sauter        232
2.  Tayler Malsam       180
3.  James Buescher    165
4.  Ricky Carmichael   136
5.  J.R. Fitzpatrick        97
6.  Brian Ickler             95
7.  Chris Jones            87
8.  Brent Raymer         79

Last Look At Manufacturers For 2009

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Georgia Boot Chevrolet) ended Toyota’s win streak at Phoenix over the weekend. Harvick, the defending race winner, grabbed his fourth win at the 1-mile track. The win also extended Chevrolet’s record for the most wins at Phoenix to 13.

Harvick won with the Chevy R07 engine under the hood of his truck. It was the first time the engine has made it to Victory Lane in NCWTS competition.

Toyota wrapped up the 2009 Manufacturers’ championship at Talladega Superspeedway with Kyle Busch’s fourth win in as many starts.

With Busch leading the way, the 2009 manufacturer champion has 14 wins with one race to go. Busch has a career season-high seven wins, while Mike Skinner (No. 5 Exide Toyota) has three, Todd Bodine (No. 30 Copart Toyota) has two, and both Brian Scott (No. 16 Albertson’s Toyota) and Timothy Peters (No. 17 Strutmasters/Red Horse Racing Toyota) brought home their first career NASCAR wins.

Up Next: 2009 Awards Banquet

The 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season will culminate with the annual awards banquet at the Loew’s Miami Beach Hotel on Monday, Nov. 23.

For the first time it will be held in conjunction with the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

The banquet will honor the series champions and their teams and also the drivers who finished 2-4 in  the final championship standings in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The two series’ Raybestos Rookie of the Year award winners will be honored as well as their Most Popular Drivers (via fan vote) on stage at the black-tie event.

Drivers in each series who finish 6-10 will also be recognized at the banquet.

A luncheon featuring the champions of both series, their owners, crew chiefs, NASCAR President Mike Helton, NASCAR Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director Wayne Auton will be held from 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. on the Conference Terrace at Loew’s and is open to the media.

Media interested in attending the luncheon should RSVP to Sue Redstone ( in NASCAR Public Relations by Saturday, Nov. 21.

Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway officially gets underway on Wednesday, Nov. 18, with a parade featuring haulers from both series as they rumble down the MacArthur Causeway and on to Ocean Drive, ending at Lummus Park for free driver/fan events.

From 3:30-5:30 p.m., the top five drivers in each series will participate in the events, which include a driver Q & A session hosted by Mike Bagley of MRN Radio, and a driver autograph session. The autograph session is open to the first 150 fans who check in at Lummus Park and receive a wristband. Fans are ask to limit themselves to one item for the drivers to sign.

Fast Facts

The Race:
Ford 200

The Place:
Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date:
Fri., Nov. 20, 2009

The Time:
8 p.m. ET

Race Distance:
134 laps / 201 miles

SPEED, 7:30 p.m. ET

MRN, SIRIUS XM. Listen locally on WCTH-FM 100.3

Track Layout:
1.5-mile oval

2008 Winner:
Todd Bodine

2008 Polesitter:
Mike Skinner

Thursday: Practice, 5-6 p.m. and 6:30-8 p.m.; Friday: Qualifying, 5 p.m.

2009 Standings

Rk Driver                  Points
1   Ron Hornaday Jr. 3,817
2   Matt Crafton        3,602
3   Mike Skinner       3,452
4   Todd Bodine        3,277
5   Johnny Sauter     3,193
6   Brian Scott         3,180
7   Colin Braun         3,168
8   David Starr          3,125
9   Timothy Peters    3,124
10 Rick Crawford      3,049

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Keeping Pace

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