The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) garage embraced many milestones in Saturday night's American Ethanol 225 but one of those reigns true to four time champion, Ron Hornaday. At lap 73 of the 150-lap event, Hornaday completed 50,000 miles of competition in one of NASCAR's premiere divisions, the NCWTS.
Making his 310th series start, Hornaday battled a loose-handling Chevrolet Silverado throughout the event to claim the checkered flag while spinning sideways down the front stretch in the seventh position in just his fourth start at Chicagoland Speedway.
After posting the 19th and 10th fastest times, respectively, in both NCWTS practice sessions on Friday evening, Hornaday set his sights on qualifying Saturday afternoon. The No. 9 Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet paced the mid-western track in 31.423 seconds (171.849mph), lining him up 14th for the American Ethanol 225.
In the opening laps of the 150-lap event, Hornaday gained five positions on track before contact with the No. 32 machine on lap seven. With only minor damage to the rear of the Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet, crew chief Jeff Hensley opted to keep Hornaday out on the track in the 11th position until a scheduled green flag pit stop at lap 47, where he took four tires including an air pressure adjustment, chassis adjustment and fuel.
Over the next 25 circuits, Hornaday was plagued with a loose-handling Chevrolet Silverado but maintained a position inside the top-12 until a caution for debris was displayed at lap 72. Hornaday made two trips down pit road under this caution. On the first stop, Hornaday got fuel and worked on the rear bumper damage. While the No. 9 machine was being serviced, the crew noticed some damage on the left front of the nose from contact with the No. 23 machine earlier that run and made a second trip to pit road for a splash of fuel and to repair the damage. When racing resumed at lap 76, Hornaday was scored 16th.
24 laps and two caution flags later, the field was slowed for a fourth time for an accident on the backstretch. Hornaday, scored 11th, came back down pit road for the final pit stop of the evening. While many different strategies were in place for the final stint, Hornaday opted for four tires and fuel.
Restarting 11th, the final 47 laps were smooth sailing for Hornaday as he climbed his way up the leader board, running as high as seventh before being slowed for the seventh and final time at lap 145. A quick caution allowed the field to restart just four laps later on lap 148 with two laps remaining.
Hornaday, scored sixth, went three-wide into turn one and battled the top trucks for position as they crossed the stripe. However, contact from behind sent the Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet spinning sideways across the front stretch to claim the seventh position behind race winner, James Buescher.
Ron Hornaday Quotes:
"This Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet was really tight and wouldn't turn in practice Friday night and we struggled with getting the splitter off the ground. We made a right front spring change in final practice though and thought we would be pretty good for the race. I got that rear bumper damage from the 32 early on and was just extremely loose the rest of the night and had to play catch-up. We weren't good enough to take a gamble on tires there at the end, so four tires was the right call for us. We had a 12th-place truck tonight and battled really hard and fought for every position."