Hornaday Hungry for Daytona Win


Hornaday has arrived at Speedweeks in search of his first victory at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

Four-time Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday has arrived in Florida for the beginning of a new season hoping to end a long winless streak at Daytona International Speedway.

The 2012 season brings new surroundings for the veteran driver, who departed Kevin Harvick, Inc. at the end of last season and is now driving the No. 9 Chevrolet for Joe Denette Motorsports. He’s teamed with Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Max Gresham, who was three years old when Hornaday won the first of those four championships in 1996.

Hornaday enters the 2012 season as the all-time Truck Series leader in race wins with 51, none of which have come on Daytona’s 2.5-mile high-banked oval. He’s hoping to change that in Friday’s season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250.

“Hopefully, I can bring home my first win at Daytona as a driver,” Hornaday said, “and Joe’s first win as an owner.”

Joe Denette Motorsports is in its second year – debuting last season with Jason White, who finished 15th in the final standings. Elliott Sadler also ran three races for the start-up team.

For Hornaday, 53, the 2012 season marks his 13th full year of competition in the Truck Series. The transition from KHI to JDM has been seamless.

“It was just three months ago that I didn’t have a job. KHI was closing their doors and I was at a crossroads,” Hornaday said. “I was introduced to Joe Denette through Hermie Sadler and the rest is history.

“He’s put the right people in place and given the team all the tools it needs to get the job done. Most of the guys were brought over from KHI, so I feel like I’m picking up right where I left off.”

One of those familiar faces is crew chief Jeff Hensley. While together in 2011, they rolled up two victories and 10 other top-10 finishes in 18 starts. Hornaday won four races overall last season en route to his fourth-place finish in points, 50 behind champion Austin Dillon.

He’s won at least one race in each of his 12 full seasons on the circuit, including a career-high six on four different occasions: 1995, 1998, 2008 and 2009. Hornaday won titles in two of those years.

He’s one of four former champions among the 44 drivers on the entry list … joining Todd Bodine, Travis Kvapil and Mike Skinner. Of that group, only Bodine has won at Daytona and – in fact – is the only multi-race winner in the 12 years the series has competed at DIS.

Bodine won the Daytona opener back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. Like Hornaday, he’s in new surroundings this season driving the No. 11 Toyota for Red Horse Racing.

And like Hornaday, Chevrolet also is looking for its first Truck Series victory at Daytona International Speedway. Toyota has won the last five years including those two wins for Bodine; and victories by Jack Sprague in 2007, Timothy Peters in 2010 and Michael Waltrip in last year’s season opener.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams hit the track for opening practice Thursday at 12:10 p.m. (ET) and qualify Friday at 4:05 p.m. Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have live coverage of Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 beginning at 7:15 p.m., with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.

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