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The Callahan Report: Hornaday Adds Another Victory

1 August 1997

INDIANAPOLIS: Race Fans had better get used to the name Ron Hornaday. The driver of the NAPA Brakes truck owned by Dale Earnhardt did it again at Indianapolis Raceway Park Thursday night. Using one of his patented restarts, Hornaday took the lead on the last lap of the Cummins 200. The victory was Hornaday's sixth of the season.

The race should have been called the Cummins 201. The NASCAR trucks have a rule stating the races will always finish under green. A late race caution resulted in an extra lap being run. Jimmy Hensley hates that rule. Hensley dominated throughout the race except for that last lap. Hensley cut a tire as the green, white, and checkered flags flew. Hornaday blew past on the outside in tuns one and two. Hensley led from the drop of the green flag. He started from the pole. All Richard Petty (Hensley's truck owner) could do was watch as Hensley dropped to third at the finish.

When the battle under the lights was over, it was Hornaday with the win, Jack Sprague second, followed by Hensley, Joe Ruttman and Mike McLaughlin.

[ Ron Hornaday
] Ron Hornaday

Hornaday commented on his win, ""I don't know what to say. We tried for 200 laps to get Jimmy and couldn't find a way around him. We came down to take the green on the restart and his truck started to get loose. I just told myself it was now or never and stuck the nose of my NAPA Chevrolet underneath and we stuck to the bottom and got on by him. This is almost unbelievable, we have six wins this season and are sneaking up on the points."

A dejected Hensley said, "I was leading almost the whole race, but my right rear tire went flat on the last restart," said the soft-spoken Hensley. "It's a heartbreaker for my team and me. We dominated the entire race. I thought the drought was over. It's tough. I really wanted to win this for the Cummins crowd tonight."

The race saw nine cautions which resulted in 43 yellow flag laps. There were also two red flags delaying the race another 36 minutes. Tammy Jo Kirk brought out the first red flag when she spun on the backstretch taking some IRP fence with her. Kirk was uninjured. The second red flag was for darkness.

The lights in turn two went out after a circuit breaker blowout. Double duty drivin' Rich Bickle went into the night as the series points leader. A tenth place finish sent the Wisconsin native to second place. Bickle was running well until he was penalized during the first red flag for working on his truck. Bickle removed tape from the front of his truck because it was overheating. Teams are not allowed to make adjustments during red flag stops. Bickle was sent to the back of the longest line on the restart. Bickle qualified for the Brickyard 400 earlier in the day in the Kentucky Fried Chicken sponsored car. He is driving for Darrell Waltrip.

Jack Sprague is now the series points leader, followed by Bickle, and Joe Ruttman. Hornaday is fourth, Jimmy Hensley fifth. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will stage their next battle at Flemington Speedway, Saturday, August 9, in the Stevens Beil/Genuine Parts 200.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel