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Hornaday Riding New Wheels : Auto racing: Palmdale resident teams with Dale Earnhardt for entry in new SuperTruck series.

April 15, 1995|BRYAN RODGERS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SAUGUS — Ron Hornaday Jr., one of the hottest racers on the new NASCAR SuperTruck series, has set a modest goal for his run at Saugus Speedway, his old stomping grounds, tonight.

A top-five finish in the 200-lap event will make him happy.

"A lot of people have said that I am the one to beat here because I have some laps on this track," Hornaday said. "I just want to finish in the top five."

Hornaday nearly squandered a three-lap lead in Tucson last week, but held off hard-charging P.J. Jones to win by four-tenths of a second.

It was Hornaday's first victory on the SuperTruck series. In February, he finished ninth in the season opener at Phoenix International Raceway.

Racing in a Dale Earnhardt-owned Chevrolet truck, the 36-year-old Palmdale resident is the series' points leader with 318.

Hornaday spent several years on the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour. He earned nearly $250,000 and won the series championship in 1992 and '93, becoming the only driver to win back-to-back titles.

During the SuperTruck exhibition season, Hornaday was driving for another racing team when he caught the eye of Earnhardt, a seven-time Winston Cup champion.

Earnhardt signed him almost immediately.

"I wanted someone who knows about racing and what it takes to win championships," Earnhardt said. "Ronnie is a champion and a heck of a driver. I'm glad he was still available when we went looking for a driver."

And Hornaday is pleased to be teamed with a racing legend.

"Dale has given me an open hand to do what I want to do," Hornaday said. "We had a brand-new crew in Tucson with a brand-new truck that we built in 25 days."

The whole weekend was a success for the Hornaday-Earnhardt team.

While Hornaday was winning in Arizona, Earnhardt was in North Carolina, on his way to victory in the First Union 400--his first title of the season.

"After we won, I called him from victory lane and I was happy, and I know he was happy too," Hornaday said.

The SuperTruck series is one of NASCAR's newest innovations and it has been well received around the nation. The SuperTrucks will race in 14 states this season.

All 20 of the series' races will be televised. The Nashville Network is broadcasting the race live from Saugus at 7 p.m. ABC will carry next week's race at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield.

Hornaday was a regular in the street stock divisions at Saugus in the early 1980s, and formed an intense rivalry with driver Bill Sedgwick. Now they meet again. Sedgwick also is competing in the SuperTruck series.

"Guys like Bill are going to be tough to beat," Hornaday said. "But Saugus has been a good track to me so we'll wait and see."

Sedgwick finished eighth in Tucson and will be driving a Spears Motor Sports Chevrolet.

Jerry Glanville, former coach of the NFL's Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons, 14th in the points standings with 200, also is scheduled to race Saturday night.

Track owner and promoter Ray Wilkings expects an overflow crowd for the SuperTrucks race, which he calls the biggest event in the history of Saugus Speedway.

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