Hornaday's steady race leads to title

By KELLIE DIXON, Times Staff Writer
Published November 17, 2007

HOMESTEAD - Change the tires. Get some fuel. Just hang on.

With only a handful of laps left in Friday's Ford 200, Ron Hornaday, Jr. was trying to keep it simple. He came into the NASCAR Trucks Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway trailing series leader Mike Skinner by 29 points.

And with only a few laps left, he was sitting in a good spot. Skinner had quite a bit of tire trouble, putting him many laps down. Hornaday couldn't relax until he crossed the finish line. He eventually took seventh place en route to claiming his third trucks championship (first since 1998) by 54 points.

Johnny Benson passed Kyle Busch in a green-white-checkered finish to win the race. Willie Allen finished 28th and was named the rookie of the year.

The tire trouble started early for Skinner. On the 25th lap, he felt there was something wrong with his right front. He dropped from the lead and pitted. His crew chief radioed that there was nothing wrong with the tire, but his crew changed it anyway. When Skinner returned to the track, he was last in the 36-truck field.

But the race wasn't over. Skinner didn't need to win or even get back on the lead lap. He just had to stay close to Hornaday to win the championship. That happened once after Hornaday pitted for tires and fuel. But Skinner's hopes of a comeback - and his third trucks championship - were dashed on Lap73. First he sustained a flat right rear tire. On his way to his second unscheduled pit stop of the day, his left rear came off. Skinner's team had to go behind the wall to repair the damage, which put him 11 laps down.

With Skinner off the track, crew chief Rick Ren radioed Hornaday. Just drive it steady.

During the final caution, Hornaday pitted for tires and fuel just to be on the safe side before steering his No.33 across the line for the title.