Four-time Champion Ron Hornaday Jr. returned to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) in the No. 9 Rheem Silverado, for the running of the Rhino Linings 350, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
With all NCWTS on-track action packed into one day, Hornaday and the NTS Team stuck to their game plan for the No. 9 Rheem Chevrolet. Unfortunately, the team elected to work solely on their race trim package for the evening's 146 lap event, sacrificing mock qualifying runs with their veteran driver. Hornaday posted the 18th quickest time during Saturday's opening 75 minute practice session, after turning 15 laps. In the final 75 minute practice session, Hornaday made 21 laps and posted the 19th quickest time.
During NCWTS knockout qualifying, Hornaday posted the 12th quickest time in round one, moving him into the second round, where his first lap time was shown in the 8th spot. However, when a caution was thrown for a competitor's truck spin-out, the lost time consumed by the caution was not added back to the qualifying period under NASCAR rules which denied several teams a chance to improve their times in the caution-shortened second round. This unusual situation left, Hornaday's NTS No.9 Rheem Chevrolet on the outside of row 9 in the 18th place starting position.
When the green flag dropped just shortly after 7:20pm pacific standard time, Hornaday quickly moved inside the top-15 with an early report that his Rheem Chevrolet was a bit on the tight side, but coming around. NASCAR had a competition caution set-up at lap 30, which allowed Hornaday to come down pit road and get four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment to help with the tight conditions and the bounce he was feeling in the corners. Hornaday would restart 15th on lap 35 and continue to work his toward the top-10, before the next caution flag came flew at lap 57. Hornaday would come down pit road once again for four tires, fuel, and additional chassis adjustments, as he could not find a comfortable balance for this Chevy Silverado. The field received the green flag at lap 61, with Hornaday restarting 16th.
Just after halfway, Hornaday reported that the team had fixed the bounce, however his Rheem Chevrolet seemed to be getting loose. With 36 laps to go, Crew Chief, Ryan McKinney called Hornaday in for an unscheduled pit stop under green flag conditions, as both the driver and crew chief felt like they had a tire issue. Once the team completed their pitstop, it was determined that they did in fact have a right rear tire going down. Unfortunately, there would not be enough laps left in the race to recover, as the team lost laps and valuable track position during the green flag stop, and Hornaday would bring home a 20th place finish and three laps behind in his first race since the Bristol NCWTS race on August 20.
From the Driver's Seat with Ron Hornaday: "It was great to be back at the track and I can't thank Rheem and Bob (Newberry) enough for giving me this opportunity. Las Vegas is a great place for a race and we had a lot of fans there to watch us. Unfortunately our team battled the track with a tight set-up most of the race and then had a right rear tire go down late in the race, which cost us a chance to rebound with a good finish."
On top of Box with Crew Chief Ryan McKinney: "It was good to have Ron back in a NTS Truck at Las Vegas. We were not as fast as we expected to be when we unloaded, but the guys worked extremely hard throughout both practices and we felt like the truck was much better and would have some good speed in it. Ron was coming up through the field at the start of the race even though the handling was a little too tight. We made some good adjustments, but had a tire go down on that second run that got us way behind. It definitely was not the finish we were looking for, but we are focused on our speedway truck for Talladega and look to rebound with a strong run there."
NTS Motorsports PR