Just two months ago following the O’Reilly 200 mid-week showdown at Bristol Motor Speedway, it looked like Ron Hornaday, Jr. was out of the championship race. Having scored just one victory and four finishes outside the top 20 in the first 16 races, Hornaday found himself 68 points behind the leader (comparable to a more than 200-point deficit under the old point system) in ninth place in the championship standings. But that has since changed and the four-time champion once again finds himself in the midst of another title race.
Currently 21 points behind the leader, Ron Hornaday, Jr. has cut 47 points out of his deficit in just five races with three wins and a pair of additional top-10 finishes. Originally listed on the Talladega entry list behind the wheel of his No. 33 Chevrolet, Hornaday will now pilot the No. 2 Chevrolet for the third consecutive race–and why not?
Prior to the Kentucky 225, Kevin Harvick, Inc. put Hornaday behind the wheel of the No. 2 to preserve their owners’ points lead over the No. 18 of Kyle Busch Motorsports, and that worked out to their advantage with a visit to victory lane after leading a race high 42 of 150 laps. Enter the Smith’s 350 last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Once again behind the wheel of the No. 2 Chevrolet, Hornaday didn’t disappoint, starting on the pole and once again leading a race high 107 of 146 laps en route to his fourth win this season. It only makes sense for KHI to once again put their four-time champion behind the wheel of the truck that has brought new life to the veteran.
But just because he’s scored the best average finish among the top 5 drivers in the last five races doesn’t mean he’s a shoe-in to take home the big trophy at Homestead. With Austin Dillon leading and the top 5 separated by a mere 25 points, one bad race could change everything. With that in mind, Hornaday does boast victories at three of the four tracks remaining on the schedule, with the only track not on his win list coming this weekend in the wild-card race that is Talladega. Anything can happen in the restrictor plate race, but behind the wheel of the No. 2 Chevrolet, Hornaday hopes to make it three for three.
*News & Notes*
*Talladega to Hold Truck Series Driver Autograph Session*
Are you planning to attend the festivities this weekend at Talladega? Well don’t miss out on the autograph session with several Camping World Truck Series drivers Friday afternoon from 2-3 PM in the OV Hill South Grandstand Sections D & E. The event is free but does require a wristband that can be picked up on a first come, first served basis at the Guest Services Offices in Section L of the Hill South Grandstand, but supplies are limited so it’ll be best to arrive early.
“The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a great combination of veteran drivers and up-and-coming stars, Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch said. “This autograph session is a fun way for our race fans to interact with these wonderfully talented drivers.”
Fifteen drivers have committed to participate–Dakoda Armstrong, James Buescher, Jason White, Max Papis, Nelson Piquet, Jr., Timothy Peters, Brendan Gaughan, Austin Dillon, Joey Coulter, Parker Kligerman, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Todd Bodine and Grant Enfinger.
Tickets are still available for the Coca-Cola 250 powered by Fred’s for just $15; children under 12 will be admitted for free with an adult ticket.
*Drivers to Honor Wheldon With Special Decal*
In honor of Dan Wheldon, who lost his life last Sunday in a 15-car pileup in the IndyCar season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, NASCAR will provide a special decal for teams to place on their B-post. Drivers will also be given the option to wear a decal on their helmets as well Also, as a part of the pre-race shows, there will be a moment of silence prior to the invocation on Saturday.
Additionally, ThorSport drivers and team members will be wearing trackside apparel in honor of Wheldon, and each of their three trucks–the No. 13 driven by Johnny Sauter, the No. 88 driven by Matt Crafton and the No. 98 driven by Dakoda Armstrong–will sport a special decal as well.
“Talladega should be a good race for the No. 8 team. We didn’t do as well as we would have liked in our first superspeedway appearance this season, but with the momentum and experience we have gained since then, I feel like we have what it takes to earn a solid finish. I have high hopes going into the race. Talladega is a very fast track and should really fit my driving style.” _Nelson Piquet, Jr._
“I’m looking forward to being back in the No. 2 truck this weekend. With four races to go, Talladega is a track where we will just have to hold our breath all weekend and hope we don’t get caught in the big one. We are in the midst of this championship battle and would really like to make it out of Talladega with momentum. I haven’t won at Talladega yet so that would be an even bigger motivation step for this No. 2 Bad Boy Buggies team.” _Ron Hornaday, Jr._
“I grew up watching races at Talladega as a child so the excitement of getting to run at such a prestigious track is a thrill for me, but you never know what to expect during a restrictor plate race. At Talladega it’s just about putting yourself in the right spot at the end because once you’re in the draft, all of the track are the same speed. You just have to stay out of trouble and just be there are the end to even have a chance.” _Dakoda Armstrong, who won from the pole in his first ARCA Racing Series start at Talladega last season_
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