The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made its first stop of the season in "America's Heartland" for the fourth running of the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. As the series all-time short-track winner, Ron Hornaday embraced the 0.875-mile track, bringing home his track-best finish of second in Saturday night's feature event.
The No. 9 Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet was quick off the truck and after the first practice session on Friday evening, Hornaday sat 13th on the speed charts, the first truck that did not make a mock-qualifying run. In final practice on Saturday afternoon, Hornaday bettered his efforts and turned heads when he jumped up to fourth quick on the board.
With confidence, Hornaday backed-up his efforts in practice navigating the mid-western track in a prompt 23.265 seconds (135.397 mph). His efforts landed him eighth on the starting grid and accounted for the four-time champion's best start in four attempts at Iowa Speedway.
When the green flag turned the field loose for 200 miles of racing under the lights in the Hawkeye State, Hornaday rocketed into the top-five by lap 10 and maintained a competitive pace inside the top-five for the remainder of the event.
It wasn't until a lap 168 restart that Hornaday, starting third, made it three-wide going into turn-one and took the lead from Timothy Peters with 32 laps remaining in the event. While setting a blistering pace to the field, Hornaday was also instructed by crew chief, Jeff Hensley to save fuel. Having last pitted on lap 136, the Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet was about six laps short.
Fortunately for the No. 9 Joe Denette Motorsports team, a quick caution flag was displayed on lap 176 for an accident in turn-two. Just two laps later, Hornaday led the field back to green and once again charged out front to lead the 36-truck field for another 12 laps.
In what looked like a blessing in disguise, the seventh and final caution flag was displayed on lap 183 for a two-truck accident in turn-three. This caution was exactly what Ron Hornaday and his team needed to make it on fuel. However, because the series veteran was trying to save fuel, he turned off his engine under this last caution. While the action guaranteed him enough fuel to the end, he was unable to scuff his tires for the final restart. Therefore, when the field when back to green on lap 190, Hornaday spun his tires which allowed Timothy Peters to make a pass for the lead coming out of turn-one.
Hornaday would settle in behind eventual race winner, Timothy Peters for the remaining 10 laps to finish second in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway. The strong showing was his second top-five finish of 2012 with Joe Denette Motorsports.
Ron Hornaday Quotes:
"It was not a win, but it was a tremendous step in the right direction for everyone on this Joe Denette Motorsports team. We didn't have the strongest truck to beat all night, but once we got out front we were good. We were a little short there on fuel at the end so I was doing my best to save fuel by turning the engine off on those last cautions. I didn't get a chance to clean my tires off before that last restart so I spun my tires and Timothy (Peters) got by me on that last one. We had a heck of a run tonight; at least people knew we were here. It was fun!"