The number 33 will always be a number near and dear to Ron Hornaday's heart as he took the number to victory lane many times with Kevin Harvick, Inc. in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) before teaming up with Joe Denette Motorsports (JDM) in 2012. However, it's safe to say Hornaday didn't want to see his name beside that number on the final finishing order for Saturday night's American Ethanol 200 presented by Hy-Vee at Iowa Speedway.
With new sponsor Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff making their debut on the No. 9 Chevrolet in the 200-lap event, Hornaday and the JDM team were hoping to best their previous finishing position of second at the 0.875-mile Iowa oval with a trip to victory lane Saturday night. Unfortunately, Hornaday was caught up in a wreck at lap 69 of 200 in which JDM chassis No. 3 sustained severe damage to the rear and was eventually deemed terminal, ending the sophomore team's night early.
The 200-lap battle under the lights at Iowa Speedway was the 15th race on the 22-race NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule and marked Hornaday's 315th series start.
In Friday's first NCWTS practice session Hornaday went to third on the board early and only complained that his Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff No. 9 Chevrolet was too free exiting the corner. After falling to tenth midway through the session, the JDM team made adjustments to get the splitter off the race track and sent Hornaday back out to post the sixth-fastest time. Hornaday, who did not make a mock qualifying run that session, ended the first round of practice 12th-fastest overall.
The team got one final round of practice for an hour on Saturday afternoon before Saturday night's American Ethanol 200 presented by Hy-Vee. On his first run, Hornaday posted the second-quickest time, but reported the track had no grip. As the session progressed, the Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff No. 9 developed a tight condition through the center of the corner and an uneasy feeling in the right front. After making adjustments to combat the tight condition and preparing the No. 9 Silverado for a mock qualifying run Hornaday went to third on the leader board. When the session concluded, Hornaday was scored in the 14th position.
Hornaday rolled off 20th in the American Ethanol 200 presented by Hy-Vee time trials and went to the provisional pole on his first lap with a lap of 23.12 seconds (136.216 mph) before reporting that his Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet was chattering all four tires and lacked grip. After the final qualifiers took time, Hornaday settled his No. 9 onto the inside of row four in the seventh position, his career-best starting position at the Newton, Iowa track.
In the opening laps of the 200-lap NCWTS event, Hornaday wasted no time and was already up one position to sixth on lap two. As the green-flag run continued Hornaday began running lap times faster than the leaders from the sixth position at lap 21.
The first caution flag of the night flew at lap 24 and Hornaday radioed to crew chief Terry "Richie" Snyder that his Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff machine was loose both in and off Iowa Speedway's high-banked corners. Snyder chose to keep Hornaday off pit road and on track with the leaders.
The 36-truck field took the green flag to resume the American Ethanol 200 presented by Hy-Vee at lap 28 and after a short battle for position with the No. 33 of Cale Gale, Hornaday pulled away with a tight grasp on the sixth-position before the yellow flag waved again at lap 36. Under the second caution of the night, crew chief Terry "Richie" Snyder chose to follow the leaders again and this time it was to pit road. The JDM No. 9 crew fitted Hornaday's Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Silverado with four fresh Goodyear tires and fuel before sending him back out scored 17th fort the restart.
On the restart at lap 40, Hornaday once again wasted no time and gained five positions in five laps to find himself scored 12th as things shook out and then up to 11th by lap 49. It was only a handful of laps before the caution waved for a third time in the American Ethanol 200 presented by Hy-Vee at lap 55 and Hornaday reported to pit road that his No. 9 machine was getting loose into the corner. Under the third caution of the night Hornaday consulted his spotter, and former NCWTS champion, Ted Musgrave and explained he couldn't quite arc the truck into the corner like he wanted. Musgrave encouraged Hornaday to work on exiting the corners and opted to stay off pit road under this caution. When the NCWTS field restarted at lap 59, Hornaday lined up fifth on the leader board.
Unfortunately, Hornaday didn't get the chance to advance any further as he lost the fifth-position to Todd Bodine on lap 65 and was then caught up in an incident at lap 69 that caused damage eventually deemed terminal to the Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff No. 9 Chevrolet. Although the JDM crew took the No. 9 Silverado to the garage for repairs, they were unable to rejoin the field for the remainder of the 200-lap event.
When the checkered flag fell at lap 200, Hornaday was scored in the 33rd position behind winner, Ryan Blaney. Ty Dillon, Todd Bodine, Johnny Sauter and Cale Gale rounded out the top-five.
Ron Hornaday Quotes:
"We really struggled with getting the splitter off the race track in both of the practice sessions this weekend. I thought the truck was pretty good in qualifying but it lacked grip and I was unable to make it stick on the second lap and I left a few tenths out on the race track, but it was still a solid effort by this Joe Denette Motorsports team. The truck was really good at the beginning of a run and I thought we would be pretty decent during the race. I got loose on the longer runs and it snapped loose on entry into turn-two and the 30 clipped me in the left rear and I spun up into the wall. It was unfortunate we weren't able to get it back out there but I have to thank Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff for their support, the truck looked good out there it's just a shame we weren't able to deliver the results this time."