Hornaday a winner in Las Vegas
The afternoon heat and high speeds at Las Vegas Motor Speedway had trucks slipping and sliding all over - into the wall, into each other, eventually into the pits.
For a veteran driver like Ron Hornaday Jr., this was a perfect setup to turn back all those flat-out-all-the-time youngsters he's been chasing all season.
Using his veteran savvy and pit strategy to outlast less-experienced drivers, Hornaday waded through a crash-filled Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday for his second straight victory and record-extending 51st overall.
''There's some teams out there with more horsepower, but they're not going to outguess us or outthink us in the pit strategy,'' Hornaday said. ''I tell you, I didn't feel it being slick other than (a) 15-lap run.''
The 1.5-mile oval LVMS has always been a fast track with wide passing lanes.
With temperatures in the 90s and the afternoon sun shining down on the asphalt, it also became a version of an auto racing slip-n-slide. The 146-lap race featured 10 cautions, including a four-car pileup on Lap 31 that brought out the red flag.
The cars kept slipping and Hornaday kept driving to the front, backing up his win at Kentucky two weeks ago to match the 51 victories Kyle Busch has as the career leader in the Nationwide Series. Richard Petty is the king of Cup victories with 200, which may be a little out of reach for the 53-year-old Hornaday at this point.
Still, between his run and the early-race crashes by points leaders Austin Dillon and James Buescher, Hornaday climbed back in the season race, moving within 21 points of the lead with four races left.
''Woo-hoo! I won Vegas!'' Hornaday said, raising his arms as he walked into the media center after his fourth victory of the season. ''A dream come true. This is fun.''
A four-time series champion, Hornaday is driving toward another title with an uncertain future. He was left without a ride next season after owner Kevin Harvick sold controlling interest in his trucks program to Eddie Sharp.
Hornaday made a statement with his win at Kentucky and used his veteran savvy to stay on a slippery track on Saturday, pulling away after each caution to hold off Matt Crafton and Timothy Peters to take the checkers at Las Vegas for the first time.
''We may have a conversation with him next week,'' Bruce Cook, Hornaday's crew chief, said of talking to the owners about continuing the team. ''Watch out for him (Hornaday) over the next few weeks.''
Dillon, who led Buescher by three points heading into the race, had trouble right off the bat.
The 19-year-old spun out coming around Turn 4 on the third lap and slammed into the wall twice. He spent the rest of the afternoon running back and forth between the pits, garage and track, trying to find a way to keep running and stay in the points lead.
Dillon managed to do that - despite finishing 17th, 15 laps down. He leads Johnny Sauter by five points.
''We're still in the points lead?'' Dillon said. ''It's hard to believe, but we'll take it.''
Buescher went out after a Lap 28 accident with Blake Feese. He managed to stay in the race, but finished 21st, 40 laps down and is third in the standings, seven points back.