Behind the Driver: Ron Hornaday, Jr.

It’s no wonder that one of the biggest names in NASCAR racing has ate, drank and breathed racing since he was a child. Ron Hornaday, Jr. is the father of former NASCAR driver, Ronnie Hornaday and son of the late Ron Hornaday, Sr., a two time Winston West Champion, Ron currently drives the No. 9 Chevrolet Silverado for NTS Motorsports.

The 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season is the nineteenth season of the third highest stock car racing in the United States. The season will be contested over twenty-two races, ending with the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Ron was noticed years ago by Dale Earnhardt while participating in the NASCAR Winter Heat Series on ESPN2. The multiple NASCAR Winston West Series winner competed in the NASCAR Bush Series for Dale Earnhardt in 2000 and in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series for owner AJ Foyt in 2001.

In 2007, Hornaday won his third of four championships on his route to becoming the winningest Truck champion.  In 2009, he passed Jack Sprague to become the winningest Camping World Truck Series champion.

We spoke with Ron to get an up close and personal look at the NASCAR veteran and the only driver with four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championships.

1.    How long have you been racing?
1979 was my first race in stock car. I started racing motorcycles when I was nine.

2.    How has it changed / morphed over the years, in your opinion?
Safety wise, in the past 10-15 years, it’s gotten better…with helmets, restraints and stuff inside the cars. The racetracks have improved too, with softer walls.

3.    You’re a 4 time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion.  What years were those wins? 1996, 1998, 2009 and 2011.

4.    How does the 4th win compare to the first win?  
The 1st win was with Dale Earnheart, he gave me my first opportunity, so that was special. He helped make it a career instead of a hobby.  I got to race with drivers that made my job easy.

5.    You joined an elite group of drivers, (Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jimmie Johnson) as the only drivers to win 4 or more titles in the three major series of NASCAR. How did that make you feel when you found this out?  
I look at it as I’m doing my job. As I get older, I think it will mean something more.

6.    You’re part of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). When and why did this series come about?
In 1994 there was the exhibition series. And in 1995, they started talking about putting trucks on the track. Earnhardt made it popular in 1995. And when NASCAR got behind it, it really took off.

7.    You have a day commemorated in your honor in Palmdale. What did you do last April 8th?
It’s funny, because I was born in San Fernando. But, I did a lot for the Palmdale community and went to baseball games growing up. I was actually raised in Simi Valley.  But yeah, that’s pretty cool.  

8.    Your part of a legendary NASCAR family. Where did it all begin?
It all started with my dad. I kept bugging him that I wanted a motorcycle. Then I just got involved with him and kept on working on the cars.

9.    You came in 3rd at Daytona. What was the first thing that ran through your mind on that final lap and crossing the finish line?
Everybody’s dream is to get to Daytona. Years ago, I had promised to send a dear friend to the race, when I got there.  So, I sent a plane ticket to my friend, Bob Fisher.

10.    You tweeted recently (Aug. 3rd) that it “was all about track position”. Can you elaborate on that? Well, I started 21st and didn’t have a lot of time to get up. But towards the end of the race, I finished 6th. Track position wasn’t the best that day.

11.    Outside of the track, what do you drive?
I have three Chevy pick-up trucks, a 69 Chevelle and a 66 El Camino. But I usually take my Harley.

12.    What do you love about the sport?
As a little kid, you love carnival rides, the thrills, the spills…it’s the adrenaline, the fans, the anticipation. You think, ‘Who you gotta’ beat that day?’

13.    Do you have a favorite racetrack or one that brings great memories?
All the ones I win at…I enjoy it, I don’t care what track. I just enjoy it.

14.    How do you prepare for a race?  Have you raced at this track before?
I really don’t. I don’t get nervous. You work with the team, you just do what you gotta’ do. Last couple times, I swam in the pool and drank a lot of beer. You just get ready go racing.

With his fourth-place finish at Iowa Speedway on July 13, 2013, Hornaday earned his 150th-career NCWTS top-five finish.  As of mid-July, in his 331-career starts in the series, Hornaday has 51 wins, 27 poles, 150 top-five finishes, 218 top-10 finishes and has led a total of 9,581 laps.

Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff will adorn Hornaday’s No. 9 Chevrolet Silverado in the NCWTS events at Daytona International Speedway, Rockingham Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway (June), Iowa Speedway (July), Eldora Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway (November), and Phoenix International Raceway.

Go Ron!