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NASCAR-WCUP: Hornaday To Drive At Darlington

18 March 1998

Ron Hornaday switches from trucks to Winston Cup
Dale Earnhardt Inc. announced today that 1996 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Ron Hornaday will drive the #1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo this weekend at Darlington. The 39-year-old Hornaday replaces Steve Park who was injured at Atlanta on March 6. Doctors predict Park's recovery will take 3 to 6 months.

Ty Norris, general manager of DEI, said Hornaday will also drive the Pennzoil Monte Carlo at Bristol unless a permanent replacement for Park is found before that race. Norris said DEI is still talking to several drivers about filling the seat.

Ty Norris, DEI General Manager:

On Hornaday Selection:

"Ron Hornaday deserves an opportunity to drive the Pennzoil Monte Carlo. The only thing Ron has done for Dale Earnhardt Inc. is become the all-time winningest driver in truck series history and bring DEI its first team championship. He would be our first choice to replace Steve, but Ron and DEI have a commitment to NAPA to win the 1998 truck championship. And, that's going to be Ron's focus starting in two weeks."

Dale Earnhardt, Car Owner
"We tested Ron for two days at Darlington last week. We brought Mike Wallace in the third day because he has experience on the track. We want to thank Mike for supporting us through this transition. Darlington is a pretty tough racetrack, but Ron is a pretty tough racer. We have a lot of confidence in his ability to get the job done."

Search For Interim Driver:

"We are talking with several drivers. We have some pretty solid options at the moment, but nothing is set in stone. We think this can be a great opportunity for any driver. We are a new team and very young, but we have a lot of talent here and the resources are phenomenal.

"We hope to have the interim driver in place right before or right after Bristol. We don't want to get into a 'driver of the week' deal, but we have no problem letting Ron Hornaday race the Pennzoil car at Bristol. I think if you have seen how well he gets around that place in a truck you know what I'm talking about."

Ron Hornaday Quotes

Goals For the #1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo:

"I'm just trying to keep the seat warm for Steve. The car will be ready for him as soon as he gets back. I think they picked me because they wanted to keep the driver in the family and I give them an extra few weeks to decide who they are going to put in the Pennzoil Monte Carlo until Steve returns.

"I told Park I would do anything for him. If that means wash his Harley or clean his motorhome or take his girlfriend out to dinner I would do that for Steve. He is a good kid. He's helped me and I've helped him. We've water-skied at the house together. I'm not out here to get his ride. This is just a good opportunity for me to help out."

Is Winston Cup A Goal?

"I'm going to be 40 years old this year. Dale Earnhardt gave me a good opportunity to drive his truck and make a good living for my family. Yes, I want to race someday at Daytona. That is my goal. I'd still like to be the hero in the truck series. If I win 8 championships in the truck series that would be great, but I do have a goal of running in Winston Cup someday."

Thoughts on Darlington:

"It's just going to be a matter of me getting laps. I am the type of person who doesn't show everything in testing. Testing doesn't pay. I'm happy because we went to Darlington last week and got comfortable, got some good notes then came back and thought about what it takes to make the Pennzoil Monte Carlo faster."

Qualifying At Darlington:

"Our goal is to make the race. It's an honor for Dale Earnhardt to give me a shot at doing this, but like a lot of people in Winston Cup, we are going to the track with the first priority of making the race. When you make that one lap you don't know if you are going to come back in one piece or not. If you do make that good lap then you have to start worrying about the race."

Racing In Winston Cup:

"I have been racing against a lot of these Winston Cup guys from Phoenix to Watkins Glen. I know what it takes to race against these guys. I'm not out there to beat any of these guys. I'm out there to try to do the best for Dale Earnhardt and Pennzoil."

Differences in Truck Series versus Winston Cup:

"The truck series isn't that much easier. A lot of Winston Cup guys have tried it and not done so well. It's been a good series for me. I like it."