SPARTA, Ky. (AP) – Ron Hornaday Jr. knows he didn’t have the fastest truck Saturday at Kentucky Speedway. What he did have was a lot of experience and a little luck.
The three-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points champion won his third straight race, but this one might never have happened if not for some timely spinouts that caused 10 of the last 20 laps to be run under a caution flag.
Hornaday was the beneficiary. He was losing ground at a rapid pace to Mike Skinner, who finished 0.135 seconds behind – the narrowest margin in the 10-year history of the Built Ford Tough 225 at the 1*-mile track in northern Kentucky.
"If it wasn’t for restarts, I hate to say, but it’s really hard to pass here if your truck’s not right," Hornaday said. "You bottom out. If there were a couple more laps, we probably would have been second."
Having won the race in 2006, he became the first repeat winner. And, by winning from the pole position, Hornaday snapped what had been a surprising phenomenon – no Kentucky winner had won from the front row.
Hornaday, who also won this month in Milwaukee and Memphis, captured his fourth victory of the season and extended his points lead to 96 over Matt Crafton, who finished third Saturday despite constant visits to pit row with various problems.
"Without a doubt it isn’t bad," Crafton said, "but the guy sitting in Victory Lane is leading in points and we’re second and lost points to him."
Eight different drivers led at some point Saturday, including Todd Bodine who led the most laps with 45, fading from second to 16th in the final 10 laps after experiencing engine problems.
But the biggest threat to Hornaday’s lead late was Skinner, who qualified 19th out of 20 drivers and was still running fifth with 10 laps left.
"Our old truck just got a little tight right there," Skinner said. "We could get her done."
The race was delayed for seven cautions, including three in the last 20 laps, half of which were run under the caution.
There were 12 lead changes, with Hornaday regaining it for good with 18 to go.
"We finally got the truck right," Hornaday said.
Brian Scott, who started second, took the lead early on his second lap around the track and held on for 28 consecutive laps. However, his chances were derailed minutes later when he cut his right front tire against the wall and spun into Stacy Compton, sending the race into its first caution. Scott finished sixth.
It was just one of several challengers to Hornaday who cost themselves either through accidents or mistakes. Hornaday, who led 29 laps – tied for second with Scott, said he was pleased to be leaving with a win.
"I’m just fortunate," he said. "Luck’s on our side."