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Hornaday turns 'terrible' day into Kentucky win

July 22, 2009
When Ron Hornaday arrived at Kentucky Speedway for the Built Ford Tough 225, he already had conceded it wasn't going to be a good weekend. Despite winning the pole position, he just knew someone else would be celebrating in Victory Lane. In the end, however, it was Hornaday who was smiling.

"By lap 45, if you guys would have told me I was going to win this race, I would have told you you were lying," a bewildered Hornaday said after posting his third consecutive win of the season. "I don't know what we did, but we were terrible. It was so loose, I couldn't hang on to it. I don't know how we did it."

J.J. Yaley slides sideways before brushing the wall in turn one at Kentucky Speedway on lap 52 of the Built Ford Tough 225. Photo by Wade Bell
A lot of drivers experienced trouble early, with 11 trucks sidelined in the first 30 laps because of mechanical problems. Even while battling with Brian Scott in the opening laps, Hornaday was already looking to make changes in his truck.

"It was pretty nerve-wracking," Hornaday said. "There was no waiting for the truck to come to me. Todd Bodine got up there and started the race real slow and bottled everybody up. I got on the outside, and I squeezed on with him."

The leaders began lapping slower cars by lap nine, with Scott pulling away from the field for a somewhat comfortable lead. Later, however, Hornaday slowly reeled Scott in and took the lead with an inside pass on turn one on lap 29.

"I hate to say it, but it's really tough to pass here when your truck's not right," Hornaday said. "When you get down to the corner, you bottom out."

The first of seven cautions came out on lap 33 when Stacy Compton spun and slowly backed into the wall in turn three. Another caution came later on lap 53, when J.J. Yeley got loose in turn one, swapping ends and sliding into the wall.

"I hit the bumps in turn one; it got the truck loose," Yeley said. "I thought I had it saved, and I tried to spin it off the wall. It spun in the opposite direction, and I couldn't save it."

An extended green flag period came after the caution, with Bodine holding a lead of more than 12 seconds over Terry Cook. Brian Ickler held the third spot, with Matt Crafton fourth and Timothy Peters fifth.

"It was a long, long night," said Crafton, who eventually moved up a spot to finish third. "We changed so much stuff on that truck. I have never, ever been on pit road as many times as that. We lifted the hood twice to change stuff. We made it better, but it still wasn't good."

Bodine finally had to give up the lead for service, and Ickler took over the front position. Ickler then had to pit, allowing Compton to take over. Scott was in second place, with Dennis Selzer holding on to third. Two laps later, Norm Benning slowed on the backstretch, forcing another caution. With the lead trucks pitting, the field was shifted with Aric Almirola and Ickler coming out first and third, respectively, after taking just two right-side tires.

"We worked really hard on it and we got it better, but traffic was a killer tonight," Almirola said. "We were too tight to run with the top two trucks, and that really hurt us."

With 32 laps left in the race, 16 trucks were on the lead lap with Almirola out in front. Cautions came again on laps 126 and 129. With 18 laps to go, Hornaday got around Almirola in turn four to take the lead. Meanwhile, Mike Skinner was beginning to make a move, pushing his way up into the top five with 11 circuits left.

"We were able to kind of just keep the fenders on," Skinner said. "I don't know if we could have passed those guys. I thought we were going to finish it in sixth if we were lucky."

The last caution of the night came with seven laps left, when Malsam lost a tire on the front tri-corner.

With four laps left, the final shoot-out began with Hornaday in front followed by Bodine and Skinner. Skinner pushed around Bodine and was just 0.22 of a second behind the leader. Skinner tried to push around Hornaday in the final turn, but the truck with the Longhorn paint scheme edged him for a 0.135 second win.

Hornaday said he fought to keep Skinner off his bumper, knowing he could have been bumped out of the way if Skinner could have gotten there.

"I got in high enough where I took the air down off his nose," Hornaday said of the final turns. "I got in that corner too hard and started hopping my front tires. I knew he was going to get a run on me, so I tried to break the air off his nose, and he got such a run going down into three, I was waiting to turn sideways. It didn't happen. Mike's been racing me pretty clean. We respect each other on the track, and he probably needed that win. It would be his first win since he turned 52."

"We were just able to keep the fenders on it and get up there and challenge for the win," Skinner said. "I could have hit Ron. I probably owe him one, but I didn't go on and take a look. I thought I could pass him there on the last lap. Our truck got a little bit tight. We got a good run off of two there, but he did a good job blocking us. I thought I could still pass him on the outside coming off of four, but the old truck got a little bit tighter there and I couldn't get it done."

Timothy Peters finished fourth, and Almirola finished fifth. Scott, who started on the outside of the front row, finished sixth.

For Hornaday, it was a day of taking a new truck with new paint and seeing the black-and-white checkers in the lead spot for the third straight time.

"Three in a row — that's incredible for the field of trucks that we have," he said. "This is a brand-new truck, and it was built for Kevin Harvick and he didn't get to race it. We got it the beginning of last week and changed it around and put the Longhorn colors on it. We made that thing look beautiful, and there it was, sitting in Victory Lane."

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The ARCA series raced for 150 miles following the Craftsman Truck Series race, and 18-year-old Parker Kligeman put on a show, dominating the majority of the 100 laps. After having some minor problems in the pits in the closing laps, Kligeman pushed back to close in on leader Grant Enfinger.

Enfinger fought to hold off Kligeman in the final five laps, using every line of the mile-and-a-half track at his disposal. With three laps to go, Kligeman nosed out in front, but Enfinger moved better in the turns, holding onto the lead. On the last lap in turn four, however, Enfinger made a mistake and went high through the turn. Kligeman took advantage of the slip to go out in front and get the win.

Frank Kimmel, of Borden, had been running in third place, but a problem with lug nuts pushed him back 16 positions. Kimmel did make his way back into the top 10 to finish ninth.

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Finishing Order: 1. Ron Hornaday-Chevrolet-150-Running 2. Mike Skinner-Toyota-150-Running 3. Matt Crafton-Chevrolet-150-Running 4. Timothy Peters-Toyota-150-Running 5. Aric Almirola-Toyota-150-Running 6. Brian Scott-Toyota-150-Running 7. Ricky Carmichael*-Chevrolet-150-Running 8. James Buescher*-Ford-150-Running 9. David Starr-Toyota-150-Running 10. Dennis Setzer-Chevrolet-150-Running 11. Chad McCumbee-Chevrolet-150-Running 12. Stacy Compton-Toyota-150-Running 13. Tayler Malsam*-Toyota-149-Running 14. Jason White-Dodge-148-Running 15. Terry Cook-Toyota-147-Running 16. Todd Bodine-Toyota-146-Rear End 17. Rick Crawford-Ford-144-Running 18. Norm Benning-Chevrolet-142-Running 19. Ryan Sieg-Chevrolet-141-Running 20. Colin Braun-Ford-134-Accident 21. Brian Ickler*-Toyota-133-Accident 22. Johnny Sauter*-Chevrolet-128-Engine 23. T.J. Bell-Toyota-121-Engine 24. Wayne Edwards-Chevrolet-54-Sway Bar 25. J.J. Yeley-Chevrolet-52-Accident 26. Chris Jones*-Chevrolet-30-Transmission 27. Mario Gossalin-Chevrolet-18-Suspension 28. Brandon Knupp-Chevrolet-17-Ignition 29. Jamie Mosley-Chevrolet-15-Clutch 30. Nick Tucker-Dodge-13-Fuel Pump 31. Sean Murphy-Chevrolet-12-Brakes 32. Michelle Therlault-Chevrolet-11-Ignition 33. Ryan Hackett*-Ford-7-Vibration 34. Shane Sieg-Chevrolet-5-Overheating 35. Ben Stancil-Ford-3-Ignition 36. Brent Raymer*-Ford-1-Rear End *Rookie; Time of Race - 1 hr, 50 min., 43 sec.; Average Speed - 121.933 mph; Margin of Victory - 0.135 second; Cautions - 7 for 30 laps; Lead Changes - 12 among eight drivers

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