Hornaday wins 4th straight trucks race

7/24/2009 - NASCAR

CLERMONT, Ind. -- Ron Hornaday Jr. wasn't sure if he could keep Mike Skinner at bay in his quest to make NASCAR trucks history.

Hornaday led coming out of a caution with 10 laps remaining in the AAA Insurance 200 Friday night at O'Reilly Raceway Park, but Skinner quickly made it a two-car race to the finish.

"I didn't think I could hold my breath that many laps, but I did," he said.

The win made Hornaday the first driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to win four consecutive races. The three-time series champion had previously won at Milwaukee, Memphis and Kentucky. He credited his Kevin Harvick, Inc. teammates for his success.

"This is unbelievable," Hornaday said. "This just says what this team's all about."

Hornaday and Skinner ran side-by side several times in the final laps. At one point, Hornaday felt his chance for the win slipping away.

"That one time, my left front tire was at his door, and I thought he had us," Hornaday said. "I just drove down in the corner, and I don't know if he got loose getting in or whatever, but it rolled me back by him."

Five drivers had shared the record of three wins in a row: Hornaday (1997 and 2009), Skinner (1996 and 2007), Greg Biffle (2000), Todd Bodine (2005) and Johnny Benson (2008).

Skinner got fresh tires late in the race and felt he could have won had there not been yellow flags during laps 161, 173 and 187.

"Right there at the end, the cautions kept coming out," he said. "Those four fresh Goodyear tires, it wouldn't have even been a contest."

Hornaday held on in part because Skinner chose not to force the issue. The Kentucky race came down to the same two drivers, and Skinner finished second.

Hornaday gained more respect for Skinner on Friday.

"It should have been Mike's race," Hornaday said. "Coming down to it, I expected Mike to put the bumper to me. That's two weeks in a row that Mike Skinner has drove me clean, and my hat's off to him and his team."

Hornaday got some unexpected help on the final straightaway. Norm Benning, who was off the lead lap and finished 23rd, blocked Skinner's path as he made his final push.

"It certainly didn't help anything," Skinner said. "When it comes down to the end and you're laps down ... you ought to get out of the way and let the leaders race."

Caitlin Shaw, a 19-year-old driver making her trucks debut, lost control and backed into the turn three retaining wall during the 38th lap. She returned and finished 24th.

Skinner dominated the first third of the race, but Hornaday slowly made up ground and took the lead in Lap 62.

Kyle Busch, who was 14th at lap 10, gradually moved through the field and into second to pressure Hornaday. A yellow flag caused the leaders to pit, and Busch took the lead as Hornaday hesitated out of the stop and fell to third at the halfway point.

Todd Bodine challenged Busch and took the lead in lap 146 while Hornaday moved up to second. Colin Braun, the pole-sitter who finished fifth, moved into third before the caution in Lap 161.

None of the leaders went into the pits, and Hornaday moved past Bodine in Lap 169. Bodine and Braun touched in Lap 173, and Bodine backed into the retaining wall to fall out of contention. He finished 18th.

An accident involving Ricky Carmichael in Lap 187 led to the frantic final sequence.

Kevin Harvick was nervous as he watched the race unfold.

"We just kind of sit back and watch as owners," he said. "These guys do a great job at the racetrack, and for me, it's really neat that Ron's the only one to win four races in a row in the truck series. It's fun to watch these guys make it happen in the race."