Pit strategy pays off for Hornaday at Atlanta
Hampton, GA – Ron Hornaday Jr. extended his record of career from-behind victory in Friday night's Good Sam Club 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Hornaday benefited from pit strategy when he made his last stop on lap 75 in the 130-lap race at Atlanta. His fuel and tires held up for him to cross the finish line 1.6 seconds ahead of Sprint Cup Series regular Clint Bowyer, who dominated most of the race with 97 laps led.
Starting 17th, Hornaday suffered slight damage to his right-front fender when several trucks bumped into each other in the mid-pack after the green flag waved. Hornaday was forced to pit early, as his No.33 Kevin Harvick Inc. team placed tape on the fender to keep it in place.
When Bowyer and all of the other front-runners had to pit for fuel within the final 20 laps, Hornaday captured the lead for the first time with 17 laps to go. He went on to claim his 49th career win in the series. His first win this season came in June at Texas.
"At the start of the race, everybody checked up, and I went to the right and got the front fender damaged," Hornaday said. "These guys [pit crew] never say die. They just kept on taping it up. It's amazing what tape does to these trucks. I told my guys, 'We don't have the best truck, but we can win it by fuel mileage.' [Crew chief] Jeff Hensley made that call right there. I'll take them anyway I can get them."
Hornaday has now recorded two truck wins at Atlanta, with his first one here in 2005. He also gave KHI its fourth consecutive victory in the series. Kevin Harvick won the previous three races -- Pocono, Michigan and Bristol. Harvick did not compete in this race.
Bowyer, who drove the No.2 Chevrolet for KHI, has finished either first or second in all four of his truck races so far this season.
"Of course, I'm disappointed, but we had a great run," he said. "You couldn't ask for anything more out of a truck or a team. This Chevrolet was fast all day long. We just got snookered there. You can't outrun strategy. But we were the fastest truck here."
Bowyer and Kyle Busch swapped the lead several times during the mid-stages of the race. Busch ran in front for 14 laps but wound up with a third-place finish.
Blake Feese recorded his best finish in the series with a fourth-place run, while Ryan Newman, driving an entry for Turner Motorsports, took the fifth spot.
Austin Dillon, Matt Crafton, Ricky Carmichael, the pole sitter, Todd Bodine and James Buescher completed the top-10.
Buescher captured the points lead for the first time in his career. Johnny Sauter entered the race with a seven-point advantage over Buescher, but Sauter finished 22 laps behind in 29th after making contact with the wall two separate times. He is now 12 points out of the lead.