Winning car comes to BMS with Hornaday

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   Ron Hornaday Jr. comes to Bristol Motor Speedway with more confidence than the smiling Bob character in Enzyte commercials.
   The former champion of two different NASCAR touring series brings to the Sharpie Professional 250 race at Bristol Motor Speedway the same car teammate Kevin Harvick drove to victory in last year's Busch Series race at the high-banked track.
   "I have his car," said Hornaday about his No. 2 AC-Delco Chevrolet that last season was adorned with No. 21 Sonic logos. "It's basically the same car with the AC-Delco paint job. We learned a little about it testing. It should be a good race."
   Hornaday knows the way around BMS pretty well himself, winning back-to-back Craftsman Truck Series races at the track in 1997 and 1998.
   "Last year I was in the Busch Series race, put some tires on late in the run and got up to about fourth," said Hornaday. "Kasey Kahne ran into the fence and I got into the back of him. Everything happens so quick here. We definitely had a good car."
   The Palmdale, Calif. driver remains the all-time win leader in the Truck Series with 26 career victories. While he mastered that series, he is no slouch on the Busch tour with three career wins and a third place finish in last season's point standings.
   He currently likes the mix between up-and-coming stars and veteran campaigners like himself.
   "Hopefully I'm a medium driver, not an old one yet," said Hornaday. "I guess I'm considered one of the older ones. Those young kids are getting some great rides. They have everything with a package, working with great teams.
   "You have to keep experience on your side. Every week you learn something. If you don't, you might as well you're done driving. Here at Bristol is a matter of keeping your nose clean. If you can stay out of that chain-reaction of checking up, you're going to be all right."
   Hornaday, whose last win came last year at Nazareth Speedway, enjoys the atmosphere of the Busch Series touted as the America's number two motorsports circuit more so than the time he spent driving in the Nextel Cup Series.
   "These guys here on the Busch side all want to win and make a name for themselves," said Hornaday. "There's so much pressure up in Winston Cup. You've got to do good and there is a lot of money that the sponsors does. There is a lot of behind the scenes stuff.
   "What you see here in the Busch Series with RCR is right up front. There is no phony-baloney of guys getting on the track, running one lap and then pulling in. I'm a racer and I'm having more fun than I've ever had. I'm living every day like it's Saturday. If you're not having fun, then why do it?"
   While at DEI, there were hard feelings when Hornaday then driving the NAPA Chevrolet in the Busch Series was overlooked to drive the car in the Winston Cup Series in favor of Michael Waltrip. Six years earlier, Hornaday was hand-picked by seven-time champ Earnhardt to be the driver of his newly formed Truck Series team.
   Those feelings have mostly subsided today with Hornaday happy driving for legendary car owner Richard Childress.
   "You can get as mad as you want, but life's life," said the 45 year-old driver. "You say what you have to say and go on. Everything happens for a reason. That's what my wife and I both believe in.
   "I've driven for some great people in Dale Earnhardt, A.J. Foyt, Rick Hendrick and now Richard Childress. That's four of the best in NASCAR racing. I'm happy where I'm at. I just wish Dale would have found me ten years sooner and I could have been one of those young guns."