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HAMPTON, Ga. – Ron Hornaday‘s night did not start off looking like he was going to take the win at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday (Sept. 2). When the green flag flew he rear-ended the truck of Josh Richards and damaged his front fender.
His crew persevered the rest of the night, continually working on applying bare bond to the fender and eventually getting the truck to handle well enough for him to be competitive. On their final pit stop of the night Hornaday returned to the track in sixth position and realized his only chance to win was conserving fuel.
In the end, he had just enough to outlast the trucks of Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch, who were the class of the field all night. Blake Feese played the fuel-conservation game as well after damaging his truck in the middle of the race to come home fourth, while Ryan Newman soldiered home to the last position in the top five.
Bowyer was the fastest truck for almost the entire race, grabbing the lead from polesitter Ricky Carmichael at the drop of the green and leading the first 37 laps of the race. Busch quickly moved up to the top three from his sixth place starting spot and took the lead from Bowyer on lap 38 during the second caution of the race brought out by Johanna Long and BJ McLeod getting together in turn 4.
Busch led three green-flag laps after the restart before Bowyer beat him back to the line to lead lap 46. Busch battled back and wrestled the lead away on the next lap and held it until lap 52 when Bowyer reasserted himself in the top spot. “It is great racing with Kyle out there in these Trucks. It is really fun when you can race that close to a guy who you know is going to be able to keep it down there and not take you out”
Bowyer maintained the lead until he had to pit for fuel on lap 111. Austin Dillon took over the lead for two laps before he had to pit as well which gave the lead to Hornaday on lap 114. Hornaday made his fuel last the final 17 laps, running lap times two second slower than Bowyer which allowed him to make it to the finish line 1.5 seconds ahead of the hard charging driver from Emporia, Kan.
“I got snookered by a guy who played a better poker hand than I did,” Bowyer said after the race ended. This was the first loss for the No. 2 truck in a month after Kevin Harvick piloted it to three consecutive victories.
“We were just too loose all night to catch up to Clint,” Busch said following his third-place run. “We tried to tighten it up all night and we finally got it pretty good at the end. We couldn’t see Clint when we came in for that last pit stop and by the time we got to the checkers we were only 10 spots behind him. It was a good points night for us.
Hornaday knew he pulled off a caper winning the race. “See that trophy right there, we stole that one. I screwed up at the start and ran into the No. 15 and damaged the fender. The guys taped it up, you can’t believe what a piece of tape can do to one of these trucks. When they got me out sixth on that last stop I knew our only chance to win was to stretch the fuel so that’s what we did.”
The win is Hornaday’s 49th victory in the Camping World Truck Series. Hornaday is the all-time leader in wins in the series, 20 ahead of Busch. This is his second win of the season, having taken the checkers first at Texas earlier this year. This is also his second victory at Atlanta in his career.
James Buescher took over the points lead from Johnny Sauter with his 10th-place finish. Sauter had trouble just before the midway point of the race and ended up crossing the line in 29th place. Timothy Peters is third in points, 14 out of the top spot and three ahead of Dillon. Hornaday is fifth, 48 points in arrears.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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