HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 25, 2009)— Ron Hornaday and the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) Longhorn team went to Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway as the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champions. The race prior to that at Phoenix International Raceway, Hornaday became only the second driver in Truck Series history to clinch the championship before the final race, Greg Biffle clinched at Phoenix in 2000. Ironically, both Biffle and Hornaday clinched on Friday the 13th in their respective seasons. Even though the driver’s championship had been decided the No. 33 team still had some unfinished business to complete as they raced Kyle Busch and the No. 51 truck team for the owner’s championship. With a solid eighth-place finish Hornaday was able to hold off Busch who had tire trouble late in the race to win the driver and owner’s championship and become the first four-time Truck Series champion.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Hornaday following the race. “This has been a dream season. To win five races in a row, then win the championship not only for myself but for KHI as a whole is pretty awesome. There are so many people to thank, Longhorn, Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW), Turtle Wax, Copart for coming on board, Georgia Boot, Rheem, Hungry Man, Miller Welders, Merit Pro, Wiley X, all of our great partners who made this year happen. I can’t think Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) enough for all that they have done. They give me the best equipment to drive hands down. I’m really lucky to be able to be apart of it all. It’s so cool for me to be standing here as the champion and Kevin to be in victory lane. It says a lot about the team work and effort everyone puts into this truck program at KHI. Wow, I just can’t believe it this is awesome.”
Hornaday started the Ford 200 from the fourth position, immediately behind boss Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Georgia Boot Chevrolet. As the race started Hornaday battled a loose-handling truck and tried to find a line his truck would work well in as he battled Matt Crafton for the fifth position. While Hornaday fought with his truck, his KHI teammate Harvick moved into the lead and began to pull away from the field. The first caution of the race waved on lap 31. The No. 33 team brought the truck to pit road on lap 33 for four tires and an air-pressure adjustment. The team had a problem with the jack on the right side resulting in a slow stop. The following lap the team came back down pit road for fuel and was able to gain back a few positions lost on pit road during the previous stop. On the restart on lap 36 Hornaday was scored in the eighth position.
The air-pressure adjustment helped the No. 33 truck as another caution waved on lap 38; Hornaday had gained two positions on the restart moving him to sixth. Hornaday tried multiple lines on the race track, but as the tires wore, the No. 33 truck continued to turn to the loose side. The third caution waved on lap 59. The No. 33 team brought the truck down pit road for four tires, another air-pressure adjustment and came back the following lap for fuel. Several of the leaders chose different pit strategies taking two tires, fuel only and some stayed on the race track, miring Hornaday back in the 11th position for the restart on lap 63. By lap 72, Hornaday had moved back into the seventh position and Harvick had made his way back to the lead.
On lap 86, Busch cut down a tire and was forced to pit road. Three laps later he was back on pit road for a tire violation. Hornaday continued to struggle with the handling of his truck as it would go from loose to tight and back to loose all around the track. On lap 115, the No. 33 truck came to pit road during a round of scheduled green-flag pit stops for fuel only. The last caution of the race waved on lap 129 forcing the season finale for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to end with a green-white-checkered finish. The No. 33 was scored in the 10th position at the time of the caution and made the decision to come down pit road for four tires. The tires paid off as Hornaday moved up two positions to take the checkered flag in the eighth position to solidify the 2009 NASCAR Camping World championship for himself and KHI, while Harvick went on to win his second consecutive Truck Series race in as many weeks.
The championship marks Hornaday’s fourth title recording championship wins in 1996, 1998, 2007 and 2009. This is the second championship for Kevin and DeLana Harvick and KHI. Over the course of the 2009 season the No. 33 team recorded six wins, 15 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes. Hornaday also recorded four poles and set a record for consecutive wins with five in a row joining Richard Petty and Bobby Allison as only the third driver to achieve this benchmark.
November 20, 2009
Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway
Race: 25 of 25
Driver: Ron Hornaday
Truck Series Point Standings: 1st (+187)
Race length: 150 laps/ 150 miles
Track layout: 1.5-mile
Number of Race Cautions: 4 for 15 laps