NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Ford 200
Topics: Ford 200
Ron Hornaday, Jr.
November 16, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased now to be joined by the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion and his crew chief, and that's Ron Hornaday, Jr., and Rick Ren. Ron, how does it feel to win the Championship?
RON HORNADAY: Hold on, I've got to pinch. This is an unbelievable year. No matter what happened today, it was a great year. I mean, any other year there would have been about 400 points in the points lead, but coming down here, as tough as Skinner was and their team, made us drive that much harder, make Rick Ren turn grayer and made it that much harder. It made our whole team excel. When we unloaded we had to have our best equipment there, and Rick Ren stepped up to the plate.
I keep bringing up Wally Rogers because Kevin Harvick, Incorporated, wouldn't be where it's at if it wasn't for Wally Rogers starting that truck team, moving onto the Busch deal and Rick Ren coming in and crossing the Ts and dotting the Is on this truck deal. He's brought so much to the table.
What RCR has done with their motor program just to help us out, I'd whine every weekend and they'd change manifolds or change headers just for a certain track. There's a lot to racing, and to come down to the third championship, to beat Mike Skinner in the fashion we did is pretty cool.
THE MODERATOR: Rick, your thoughts about this race tonight and winning this championship.
RON HORNADAY: When Skinner was in late I wish we had 25 more yellows so I can catch him.
It's probably the weirdest one I've ever won because Rick Ren, he's got a problem when I say something, hold on, Hornaday, I'm checking tires, on hold on, I'm checking this. He just won't give me what I want so I've got to yell at him for ten laps and it makes me drive that much harder and it gets me that much madder.
He's got more notes. The first time I met him, he's got a whole -- you've got to picture a hauler with all the chairs sitting there, and he's got all the notes sitting out there because our truck was missing something and he's going to find it, and he found it back in '95, and he put it in our truck and it was fast.
Q. Rick, your thoughts about winning this title?
RICK REN: I don't know what to say. I mean, it's what everybody wants to talk about. It's what everybody's dream is. Actually to put it all together and make it happen is like just unbelievable. You've got a bunch of young guys and you try to mold them and teach them if you just believe in what we tell you to do, if you'll just do that, it'll all work out.
I asked Horn when this is going to soak in. I don't know. I'll tell you what, when we got done with practice today, I wasn't happy with the truck, Ron wasn't happy with the truck. I pulled out the so-called notes and made some adjustments, got the truck good enough we were on the lead lap.
Sorry that Mike and his guys had a problem because they're a great bunch of guys. As a matter of fact, a bunch of those guys on those race teams, some of them worked at KHI before. Quite a few of them I have worked together with on other race teams before. We all talk and get along and we race hard, and it's a shame that they had a problem.
RON HORNADAY: But that's the only way we were going to win it. Mike and I talked five weeks ago, one of us are going to have to have a problem to win this championship, and his came at the wrong time.
RICK REN: I told him the racing gods are going to determine who wins this race, and that's just the way it worked out. Hung around, stayed on the lead lap and just kind of hung in there. We've raced really hard all year.
You know, I told Ron earlier tonight we have had ten top-two finishes this year, and going into this night, 24 races, to finish in the top two ten times is a pretty stellar year in anybody's book, and it's just been a phenomenal year.
Q. Ron, when you win a championship you don't know when or if the next championship is going to be. Were you beginning to wonder, God, what have I got to do to win another one of these?
RON HORNADAY: No, I mean, I felt that Wally Rogers put everything together at Kevin Harvick, Incorporated, and Kevin seen what we were doing last year and he says I'm going to fix these things. I can see what's going on, and Rick Corelli and Rick Ren sat down and he came over to work for us. It's kind of ironic he used to work for Bill Davis and took a lot of good notes and put it to ours, and everything just seemed to work out.
I mean, this is cool. We've won at some racetracks that Rick has never won and at he's won at racetracks I've never won at. I won the championship for Rick Ren, Kevin Harvick, Incorporated. This is just really special.
Q. And the other question is when Skinner first pitted because he thought he had a flat tire, went down a lap and then later when he lost the wheel, that's the guy you've got to beat for the title, so do you kind of sit there in the truck and go, yeah?
RON HORNADAY: No, because I didn't know what happened. I mean, when he slowed down, I thought he was just letting Johnny Benson go by, and then all of a sudden he didn't get back up to speed. I got to turn 1 and looked up there and he was like 15 trucks behind, and I was like, well, is he flat because he came off the corner and all I heard was something, did he lose a cylinder. It took about five laps before Rick Ren figured out what his notes were to tell me what he was going to say (laughing) because what he told me, he says, don't worry about it, Skinner just had a low tire, he's all right, you've just got to drive hard, keep on driving. All of a sudden, yellow is out with five to go or whatever it was.
RICK REN: Yeah, three to go or something like that.
RON HORNADAY: I don't know, there was stuff going everywhere.
That's the only way we were going to win it. That's the only way we were going to win this championship, Mike is going to have problems. He's very good on tracks like this, and he took off leading the race and they had the force there. Johnny Benson was in front of me, Blaney was in back of me. They had me surrounded where if he didn't have a problem they were going to win the championship, and Rick Ren has put some great guys together in this Camping World Chevrolet and they excelled when the other guys were slipping.
Q. Ron, there were times on the radio where you were asking about where am I, where am I, and you heard silence and you got frustrated about that.
RON HORNADAY: I do that every week.
Q. But I mean particularly with everything at stake, how frustrated were you getting with that, and Rick, was that intentional just to keep him focused on just running?
RON HORNADAY: Rick Ren tries to wind me up any way he can. If he could get a cattle prod and poke me in the truck he'd do that because he loves the way I race.
If he didn't set the trucks up the way I like them, Kevin Harvick would fire him and I because Kevin Harvick is just the biggest fan of my driving. He came to me and just smiled after we went three wide or however wide we went and I got loose.
We came into this championship to race hard, to win races and the points will fall where they fall, and that's why Rick Ren gave me them trucks, and we'll do that.
RICK REN: We made a deal that we were going to race to win every week, it didn't matter tonight.
As far as kind of holding back a little information, you know, you've got to realize Mike is going to be ten laps down. But if we got a flat tire or we got in a wreck or we ran out of fuel and we lose two laps, we're going to lose the Championship because there were so many trucks only one lap down.
He needed to run as hard as he could run, and I wasn't real comfortable saying, you know, it's not time to ride. It's not time. I saw it slip away from them tonight. It could have turned tides on us with five laps to go. It's just not time to ride.
RON HORNADAY: And the way it was vibrating, it was about to.
Q. Ron, can you talk about when you took Kevin in and he was sleeping on your couch? What was it like to have him around? Why did you take a chance on him, and what do you remember from those times?
RON HORNADAY: Those are questions for my wife because I have no idea why I did it. I guess Kevin, he was kind of looking to rent a house and all that stuff, and it was stupid for him to come down here. I talked to him to help him get into Richard Childress, I talked to Wayne Spears and stuff like that.
When Kevin was going to come to North Carolina, I said, stay at the house for a while. It didn't mean to show up that way, just our dinner parties were longer, less dinner, it was more -- he had to spend the night and ended up being the couch because he couldn't walk upstairs -- only kidding (laughter).
I have no idea how it worked. He found a house around the corner and bought it. That's the same deal with Jimmie Johnson. He had Blake Feese staying there, we've had Augie Vidovich staying there. My wife and I are fortunate enough -- the guy across the street passed away, and we've got a 7,400 square foot house with four dogs, and we don't need that big a house, so if they want to join us, come on. I said that last time and about ten fans showed up, so I'm not going to say that again.
Q. Ron, is that couch still in the house? Is it going to go into the Hall of Fame?
RON HORNADAY: It's funny, it was a sectional, kind of, and it was the biggest leather one, but everybody slept on the small one so they didn't fall off or something, I don't know why. I've got it in my office, and Blake Feese, he says Jimmie Johnson has made it, Kevin Harvick has made it, I'm going to sleep on that couch tonight. He slept on that couch that Friday night; that Monday morning he got fired from Mr. Hendricks. So he says, your couch is junk.
But they were going into problems there, Jimmie couldn't drive the car, nobody could drive the car there. Blake Feese is one of my bust buddies. If I can help him get anything, he is an awesome little driver and you can see what he does. The couch is still pretty good, it's just he got underminded (sic).
Q. And secondly, did you see anything in Kevin back then, and can you talk a little bit about how he's progressed to where he is now, being your championship truck owner?
RON HORNADAY: I don't pay attention to them things. I don't think I have too many people I dislike. Me and my wife go -- my motto is "live every day like it's Saturday," and I live that way and I live wide open no matter what I do. You can ask my grandkids, you can ask anybody. When I do things, I like to do it big and have fun.
Kevin and I, when we raced back in the days and we never had a run-in. The best picture, Kevin Harvick has got it in the office, he's driving a Spears truck and I'm driving our truck, driving for Dale Earnhardt, and my left front fender and my hood was kinked the same way as Kevin Harvick's was. So right then when somebody needed to talk to him, I think his name was Richard Childress couldn't talk to him because Kevin was under contract, I talked to Kevin to get a hold of Richard and that's kind of how that thing worked out.
Q. You've ran Busch, you tried Cup, but it really seems like this series was really made for Ron Hornaday, Jr. What is it about the Truck Series that it seems like guys like you and Benson and Skinner just fit so well in this series?
RON HORNADAY: Why don't you talk to Kevin Harvick and have him build a Busch Car and have Rick Ren crew chief it and I'll drive it and we'll show you that we can still do it. The trucks are fun. I mean, these things got a lot of downforce. Rick Ren is very, very sharp about what he does. It is an honor to have Rick Ren for your crew chief.
Ten years ago we couldn't work together. He was really strong-headed, and I'm really strong headed, and you probably heard that on the radio tonight, but we understand that.
That's why when we're all said and done, Rick Corelli is probably the worst guy that takes a beating. He's got a lot of -- he's probably learned more words from me than he's ever heard in his life. That's what it takes for a good team, and Rick Ren has put a great team together that his big shoulders, and when we leave that shop they leave their feelings at home because we're there to do one thing and that's to win races.
Q. When you were having a little bit of trouble there, a lull in your career, and Kevin hired you, can you just talk about --
RON HORNADAY: With who? I never had a lull in my career, other than A.J. Foyt, racing for him. That was his problem letting somebody else run his team and not knowing where his money is going, his funding was going. When you tried to tell him that he had to make a change because he was paying me good money, I understand that.
The lull in my career was when he fired me I didn't have a job, and I got with the Dr. Pepper car Dave Carroll, and he gave me that opportunity which opened a lot of doors up. It started with Mr. Hendricks taking the showroom truck off of the floor of Ricky Hendricks, and I go down to Daytona and I think I qualified second and we were running good and the wheel got loose, and that's when I told NASCAR they done great things the second year they run at Trucks.
Then Ricky got hurt and broke his shoulder, whatever, and I ran this for five years. I never had a lull in my career, it's just I never had the equipment what I've got over here at Kevin Harvick, Incorporated.
Q. I was just going to ask you about Kevin hiring you. Can you talk about that opportunity and how that came about?
RON HORNADAY: I got offered more money to go other places, but when Kevin asked me to do it, we never talked about price. I just said, yes, I'll do it. He asked me to do Busch races, I don't ask him how much he pays me, I'm just going to do it because we win races, he'll take care of me, and that's what I always felt. Money will fall where it falls.
If I get an opportunity to win, I know Kevin Harvick, what he's done with his dad and what they've done in their racing career when Kevin Harvick was the kid for seven years at Bakersfield, they've had classes of equipment. When Kevin built that shop and he came down to Phoenix and whipped everybody's butt in a truck, I knew it was going to run good. When he gave me that phone call, him personally himself, and I got hired over the phone, I didn't even have to go see him.
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