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Hornaday Unhappy in Happy Hour, Gets a New Engine

April 29, 2001|DARIN ESPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FONTANA — Ron Hornaday Jr., a native of Palmdale, will have a new motor in the Pontiac Grand Prix he drives for A.J. Foyt for the NAPA Auto Parts 500 today at California Speedway.

Hornaday, who qualified 35th on Friday at 178.846 mph and was 20th in morning practice Saturday at 177.751, had to contend with an oil leak during the happy hour final practice session in the afternoon.

The leak was affecting the car's power and grip coming out of the corners. His best lap of 172.794 during happy hour was 40th.

"We know this car is going to race real well, but it's hard," Hornaday said.

Hornaday has run up front in his last two races, leading in the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway April 8 and the Die Hard 500 at Talladega Speedway in Alabama last Sunday despite starting 43rd and 42nd.

Before the Martinsville race, Fred Graves took over as crew chief from Phillipe Lopez.

Graves was Hornaday's crew chief when he won the first of his two NASCAR Craftsman Truck series championships driving for the late Dale Earnhardt. He won 13 of his series-record 25 victories working with Graves.

"We're just trying different setups, rather than the conventional ones people have been using for the last 10 years," Graves said. "We're making some changes that we wanted to do, that Phillipe didn't necessarily agree with. We're seeing how successful those changes are."

*

Sean Woodside of Saugus completed only 12 laps of the Auto Club 300 NASCAR Busch Grand National Division race before dropping out with transmission problems, but not before showing he belonged on the track.

Woodside, who started 42nd in the 43-car field, was 36th when he pulled off the track and into the garage area. His fastest lap of 154.005 mph was better than 20 other drivers could muster. Winner Hank Parker Jr. had a best of 155.963.

In the Pontiac WideTrack Grand Prix 200 NASCAR Winston West race, Woodside finished finished 15th, two laps behind winner Brendan Gaughan. Troy Cline of Santa Clarita was 18th and Bill Sedgwick of Acton was 20th.

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