NASCAR Media Conference
Ron Hornaday, Jr.
March 30, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone, welcome to today's NASCAR CAM Video teleconference in advance of Fridays's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Nashville 200 at Nashville Super Speedway.
To help celebrate the track's ten-year anniversary, fans will get a NASCAR doubleheader: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races Friday night following Nationwide races on Saturday afternoon. This will be the first stand-alone weekend of the season for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and for the first time, the series first of two visits to Nashville Super Speedway in 2010.
Our drivers today are Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Justin Lofton. Ron is up first and he is the only former winner at Nashville expected to compete in this year's race. Of course, we all recall that Ron's victory at Nashville was his fifth consecutive win in the series, quite an accomplishment.
Ron, thanks for joining us today. Obviously been a bit of a rough start to the 2010 season, but you have to really feel good about how you race and how you finished at Martinsville Speedway last weekend. You moved up to 12th in the points standings. Talk about where you are now as you head into the race at Nashville.
RON HORNADAY, JR.: I mean, the way the season starts, we can't go by that. This is just two of 25 races we run. We had three or four bad races last year, and I think we'll be fine as long as Johnny Sauter don't pay me back too bad. Johnny and I had a little conversation at the end of the race and I got into him and spun him out and he was pretty upset about. It, and he's one of those drivers that will pay you back some day, and hopefully it's the same way that I got him at Martinsville or something like that where nobody gets hurt.
But still got to do what we've got to do. Nashville is a fun racetrack. I love it. I would say we tire tested there but when we went to tire test, it snowed there. I ran 60 laps. I can actually say I raced in the snow now because we got 30 laps on the old tires and 30 laps on the tires we want to run there. We are looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Our second guest is Justin Lofton, one of the five Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders in 2010. Justin is 24 years old, won the 2009 ARCA Series championship, signed on with Red Horse Racing and is teammate to Timothy Peters. Definitely a learning year with two top 25 finishes; you would probably just as soon forget. Give us your impressions of racing in the series so far and how the Raybestos Rookie race stacks up.
JUSTIN LOFTON: I really wish I had more to judge the whole series off of. We had not been off to a great start but really enjoy running in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, it's just another step up in my career in racing. Just getting our season kicked off and get a little momentum going. It's really tough, like Ron said, at the beginning of the year when you have one race and a two- or three-week break. Looking to get a little more consistency in the weekend's racing and get some more momentum for our team.
Q. I was talking to Eric, and he says he likes racing you because you always race hard, and he also knows that you're okay and that you'll get it back. Can you talk about your perspective on racing hard, and you know, we saw the repercussions of his conversation with you and Sauter, but how you like to race and how that kind of bay pack things works.
RON HORNADAY, JR.: Well, I come from a short track and we were just talking about that where the fast cars went to the back and you had to get to the back and everything. You don't make a lot of friends that way, but you know, we started -- Martinsville 31st, got all the way up through there, didn't have a scratch, and I didn't know what was really going on -- I guess go back to your question.
I like to race hard, just like everybody else would be, and I think Johnny and myself, again we all have got basically the same driving style. We really run hard and like to race hard. I think that's why the Truck Series is tough trucks and tough driving. The tracks we used to go to when these trucks first came out, they were never over a mile, and here we are at Super Speedways and Daytonas and stuff like that. So these trucks are -- racing at Martinsville racetrack, unveiled that a little bit this weekend.
We had a lot of yellow flags, and obviously I caused a lot of them with getting in the back of Johnny, but I watched it two or three times and Mike and I were both on the gas. Johnny, his Truck was getting tired but we were four or five tenths of a lap faster and we caught him going into one earlier, four or five laps before, I got Johnny. I don't know if he was pumping his brakes or whatever, but sort of threw me back. And Mike got in the back of me really good. It looked like it was a pretty big wreck when it happened, but we all three saved it. And Johnny got away from us and Johnny ended up sitting out.
So I'm sure that Johnny will pay me back. Like I said, hopefully we have another Martinsville coming up at the end of the year and we have shorter tracks. So kind of have it like a Carl Edwards deal, know he'll pay me back; when, I don't know, but go out and race hard and do what we've got to do.
Q. When you have a streak as far as the points go, when you have a streak of less-than-great results, it all of your experience, is it really tough for you to panic?
RON HORNADAY, JR.: Say that again?
Q. With all your experience, is it tough for you to panic?
RON HORNADAY, JR.: The competitiveness, you always panic when you get behind the wheel and things are to the going right. I've been real fortunate with all of the guys working so hard up there, we have got good trucks. Kevin, he's got the points for the 33 and we are going to duel for the championship, and I told him, you got the pole both places this weekend because it rained out.
It's still stressful when you have the amount of talent that we have in the Truck Series and the equipment you're racing against, starting 31st on a half-mile track with only a few lap to get to the front; something is going to happen, I don't care who it is or what it is. Can't panic, George did a great job with the pit stops, kept us up enough where we stayed up front with them and came back and put the other left side tires on there, and we got the opportunity to pit with the leaders and kept us up front all day.
Q. And your attitude about it is, which I think fans would probably appreciate, you know, as far as the incident with Johnny, that's a big part of racing. Do you think fans expect that out of you?
RON HORNADAY, JR.: I hope not. I mean, you don't go out there to wreck a guy. You go out there to race him hard. I'm sure -- Johnny is a racer and he knows how to race, he races as hard as I do, if not harder. He knows what happens in the car and I do, too.
So whatever repercussions happens, happens, I didn't go out there so say I needed a second spot. I needed points and get a good Top-5 and I got it done, that's all I can tell you. It's not that I was in a corner and knocked him out of the way and he hit the fence.
It's just I got on the gas more than he did two or three times, and just like Mike was on the gas, and the line was still turning and he got on the gas at the same time I just touched him. He's pretty good of moving people out of the way without correcting them and maybe I have to learn, I don't know, or during the 40 laps earlier.
Q. You might have already addressed this, but can you just talk about the dominance right now of KHI and the equipment you all are racing with, and just talk about what it means racing against Kevin at Nashville this weekend.
RON HORNADAY, JR.: I don't think Kevin has ever run a Truck at Nashville Super Speedway.
It's kind of cool to pass Kevin as an owner. He tried to do stuff on the Truck he ran at Martinsville. The guys went up there Sunday right after the race Saturday night, pulled the Truck apart, guys painted it yesterday and put the details on it yesterday and I'm going up in the morning to sit in the seat. I'm going to have a brand new Truck.
And that's what's so good about with Kevin, he knows what it takes to win, he gives us equipment and puts the people in the right places. I feel like a broken record, but I wouldn't be sitting here if it wasn't for Kevin. He definitely gives me the equipment to run up front and it makes the sponsor and myself shine, that's what's so good about it.
Q. You mentioned that this is your first year out, and that you have come into the series with a championship under your belt, too. What have you learned about NASCAR that you did not expect to know?
JUSTIN LOFTON: I was kind of -- had prior experience just being around Brad and a lot of the guys in the Nationwide Series in prior years before this, three or four years, so been around it a lot and so just in a way grew my racing career through it.
I tell you one thing I learned about the Truck racing is it's tough racing and it's racing I like to do, even, you know, when you get up to Atlanta, it's really aggressive. As long as you get around guys that your style fits, you can have a lot of fun racing and really looking forward to Nashville Speedway. Had good run there before, so we actually get to go to a track that I've seen before and feel comfortable going to.
Q. As far as the future goes, when do you think that you'll be considered a veteran of NASCAR, how many years do you think it will take you to get to the point where you say, okay, now they can call me a veteran?
JUSTIN LOFTON: That's a good question. At one point, you know, one side of me doesn't really ever want to be called a veteran. I would just like to be a young gun forever. I think that all just comes from other people and when they see that maturity level in me and my experience has reached that point to be actually considered a veteran, I can't really consider myself that in any way.
Q. Obviously you had your deal with Crafton last year at Gateway and I was just curious if you felt, now that you've had something with his teammate, Sauter, does that make things more heated or more worried about than it would be like a team versus team thing rather than just you and Johnny?
RON HORNADAY, JR.: I hope not. Looking back, Johnny said some things to me after that heated battle. Looking back, I don't think I ever took Matt Crafton out, I don't think he ever spun him out or wrecked him. So I'm saying that -- I don't know where that was coming from. I actually called him to see where he was coming from on that.
But no, I don't think, you know, I heard that Johnny had to call Matt and apologize when he raced him, too. So I don't know -- I don't think that Matt would get in the middle of something that I've done with Johnny. It's one of them deals that Johnny and I were racing hard and Johnny knows how hard I drive just like I know he does. I think Johnny knows I didn't go out there to wreck him. I was the first one to help Johnny and how he was feeling and stuff like that. He knows where our friendship is at. Racing is racing and we can keep racing on the racetrack and everything else will be fine.
Q. And do they get some of their cars from you guys, don't they, or some of their trucks from you guys?
RON HORNADAY, JR.: I think they bought one or two, I don't know for sure. That's for them guys up there. Everything which Chevrolet does, the wind tunnel data -- I know we have done a Truck format. I don't know, maybe we have done one for Johnny, but they are buying all the front-end pieces and all that stuff. Doesn't matter, we are racing everywhere and Truck isn't faster when we build them, anyways. Just have to get on our game and go on. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm not worried about Johnny wrecking, you know he's going to, it's one of those things, you know he's going to race hard and hope nothing really happens.
Q. You set the record for most consecutive wins at Nashville and your boss is looking to do the same this weekend coming into Nashville; are you going to try and help him get that record to beat you or are going go to try and spoil it?
RON HORNADAY, JR.: I don't know. We are going to have to see when we get there. I feel real comfortable there. It's a fun racetrack with a concrete track, but the Nationwide car is going to be there. It's going to put a little more rubber on the track before I race try day night, so that should help a bunch.
But still, it's tough. I mean, that track, it's just a matter of when does your Truck take effect, in the night and how much more grip it's going to get, if it's going to take rubber or not. Basically we are playing a tire game when we get there.
THE MODERATOR: I have a question for Justin. We have got a great teammate in Timothy Peters there on the Red Horse Racing Team, and sometimes like Timothy is really got it going this year. Justin, how much does that help you as a rookie being able to look to a really solid performance like that from your teammate?
JUSTIN LOFTON: It helps out a bunch, both myself, from a driver standpoint, and as far as crew standpoint. You know, I'm not only a rookie in the series but Mark Rette is a rookie on the Truck Series, not so much the Nationwide Series or even the ARCA Series now. But it's nice to have Jeff Hensley and Timothy Peters right there and stuff so we can bounce stuff off of. And we can make sure my driving style, what I like in a Truck, is not that much different from what we know works.
You know, we can definitely have a solid baseline with Timothy and Jeff and the whole No. 17 crew. It helps morale-wise every time you go into the shop. I haven't had a great start to the season and they have. It keeps everyone happy. Tom does a great job of making everyone in the shop feeling like one big happy family. When one team does well, the whole shop gets a bonus, not just that team. It really keeps morale up in the shop, and it makes it a lot easier that when one team is having a bad streak; it keeps that team built up and ready to go next weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Following that up, the schedule doesn't really lend itself to a lot of momentum, three and four weeks between races until really into mid-May. I would guess that that probably is a challenge for a rookie driver.
JUSTIN LOFTON: Yeah, it is, right when you think -- you get in a Truck and you're like, okay, I'm getting used to it and all of a sudden you're out and now, okay, we are going to go from a Speedway now to a Daytona track, now you're going to go to Atlanta. And the first 50 laps of Atlanta, all I was sitting there was doing was learning the racing and learning my Truck. I went from a Speedway Truck now into an immediate Truck. And then you go from there and then you go into a half-mile track and now it's like, okay, I'm learning a whole different setup.
So with gaps in between that we don't get to do a lot of testing, so right when you feel comfortable, it's like, okay, we are going to take you out for three weeks.
So April, if you have some things planned, we are going to go to Nashville and we are going to do for sure the Texas Nationwide race and hopefully we can throw Phoenix, too, and get momentum in there, too, and hopefully when we get to May, I'm racing the Nationwide car in May, too. As long as I can get into a racing car down and get used to the Goodyear Tire and get used to racing with all of these guys in the Truck and Nationwide Series, we should definitely hit our stride about June, July and feel comfortable and really run for Top-5s every weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Like to take this opportunity to thank both Ron and Justin for being with us today, and good luck this week in Nashville and look forward to another great night of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition.
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