If there is one thing Ron Hornaday is known for, it's being one tough veteran of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). And the four-time NCWTS champion certainly lived up to his reputation in Wednesday night's UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) by coming from as far back as 21st, and advancing four positions in the final two laps, to bring the No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet home in the 8th position, also marking his sixth top-10 finish of the season.
The 106.6-mile battle in "Thunder Valley" was the 13th race on the 22-race NCWTS 2012 schedule and marked Hornaday's 313th series start and his 214th career top-10 finish.
After his first few laps on the newly "revamped" concrete half-mile, Hornaday posted the 29th-fastest time in the first round of practice before spending the remainder of the session making changes on his No. 9 Chevrolet. In the second practice, the Joe Denette Motorsports (JDM) crew got the No. 9 dialed-in and jumped up to 15th on the leader board by the end of the session.
Hornaday put the No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet on the inside of row nine, in the 17th-position, in Wednesday afternoon's UNOH 200 qualifying session with a fast lap of 15.950 seconds (120.301mph). The all-time series event winner's only complaint was that chassis "JDM11," built new for the 2012 season, was too free around Bristol Motor Speedway's famous high banks.
In the initial laps of the UNOH 200, Hornaday put his No.9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet on the move and was scored 14th on lap four. However, it wasn't long before a tight condition through the center and off the corners put Hornaday back where he started in 17th by lap 43. When the first caution fell at lap 82, the No. 9 JDM crew breathed a sigh of relief as they were the next truck to lose a lap to leader, Timothy Peters.
The lap 82 yellow-flag period marked the longest green flag run to start a NCWTS race since the series visited the Milwaukee Mile in June of 2005 and went 143 laps before seeing the first caution. The record-making caution also provided Hornaday with just the opportunity he needed to hit pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. As the field restarted, Hornaday was scored 19th on the leader board.
As they say on short-tracks, "Cautions breed cautions" and it was only a few laps before the second caution of the event waved at lap 95. Crew Chief Terry "Richie" Snyder chose to bring the No. 9 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet back down pit road to remove some tape from the grill and make a trackbar adjustment. When the field went back green Hornaday was scored 21st.
Hornaday was quiet on the team radio as they closed in on the final stages of the 200-lap event before the third caution of the night flew at lap 148, where he was the recipient of the NASCAR'S "Lucky Dog Award" and put back on the lead lap. Snyder opted to use the advanced lap to their advantage and brought Hornaday back down pit road for four tires and fuel.
When the next caution fell at lap 161, Hornaday reported that the Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet was experiencing a tight condition. Snyder once again brought the No. 9 machine down pit road for another trackbar adjustment before sending him back out to restart 17th with just 31 laps remaining in the 200-lap event.
After going back green at lap 169, Hornaday worked his way up two positions to 15th on the leader board by the time the fifth caution of the night waved at lap 188. Hornaday felt the truck was, "A little snug in the center of the corner but 100 times better," so the JDM team chose to keep the No.9 Chevrolet off pit road under the caution. By staying out, Hornaday gained another two positions to restart 13th.
From there, with the end in sight, it was only two laps before a lap-195 caution set up a green-white-checkered finish. Hornaday stayed quiet on the radio under the caution before the restart, scored 12th. As the field took the final green flag of the UNOH 200, Hornaday passed four trucks to take the checkered flag from the 8th-position behind winner, Timothy Peters.
Peters led flag-to-flag in "Thunder Valley" to hold off Parker Kligerman, Ross Chastain, Joey Coulter and Brendan Gaughan, who completed the top-five.
Ron Hornaday Quotes:
"We had high hopes coming into this weekend with a new truck. We were a little off when we unloaded but the guys worked hard and never gave up and we salvaged a top-10 finish."