Hornaday is a cut above

by Monte Dutton

Is Ron Hornaday Jr. the greatest driver in the history of what is now the Camping World Truck Series? According to a wide range of observers, there isn’t much doubt. Hornaday’s latest accomplishment — a record five consecutive victories — is only a small part of what the 51-year-old native of Palmdale, Calif., has achieved since the Truck Series began in 1995. He has competed regularly in all but five seasons (2000- 04) and to date has won a record 45 races, far outdistancing Jack Sprague (28) and Mike Skinner (26).’ 

To quantify the significance of the five consecutive victories, one should note that no one has won more than four in a row at the Sprint Cup level since Richard Petty’s 10 consecutive victories in 1967. Said former Truck Series regular Joe Ruttman: “There’s no question, performance-wise from start to finish, Hornaday is head and shoulders ahead of everyone else…. When you look at the Truck Series in its entirety, you’re looking at two guys (Skinner and Hornaday). They’re both great guys and have been a real key to the success of Truck racing. NASCAR is fortunate to have two great champions in the series still ‘duking’ it out after all these years.” Skinner, still a series regular, joked: “We need to break Hornaday’s arms and legs, and maybe (crew chief) Rick Ren’s, too, to slow them down a little now. That’s about the only way to slow that team down. Right now, they’re like a steamroller and are definitely in a class by themselves. “It’s embarrassing because they’re just playing with the rest of the field. They just get out there and ride around, and when it’s time to go, they go.” “Hornaday’s driving style fits the Truck Series perfectly because he’s a hard-charging, tough competitor,” said driver Terry Cook, “and every lap he runs, he races like it’s the last lap.” The most modest assessment of Hornaday’s ability and career came from, well, Hornaday himself. “It’s been a great ride for me,” he said. Hornaday’s reputation — tough, but fair — fits the Truck Series’ image. “If you rough a guy up, he’ll get you back,” he said. “All these things take place. The driver makes the decision on how badly he wants to win it. If you cross the line, there will be payback. That’s just part of it.”

Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week ( features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at Copyright 2009 King Features Syndicate

Truck Series regular Ron Hornaday Jr. has won a record 45 races to date since since 1995. (Photo: John Clark/NASCAR This Week)