7/27/07

Skinner Stumbles, Hornaday Rumbles

For the first time in the last 14 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, Mike Skinner and Bill Davis Racing failed to bring their “A game” to the racetrack and Ron Hornaday took full advantage of the situation.

Hornaday pulled into O’Reilly Raceway Park trailing Skinner by 164 points and by the time the checkers fell that deficit was cut my more than half. When the green flag dropped, Skinner was on territory that was familiar enough. Rain washed out qualifying and put the No. 5 Toyota first on the starting grid for the eighth time this season, but it wasn’t long before things went awry for the current points leader. Skinner managed to lead 20 of the first 21 laps before Hornaday found his way to the front.

After a round of pit stops under caution, Travis Kvapil made his presence known but with 31 laps to go, Hornaday moved into the lead and from there held on to score his 32nd career victory. “It was an awesome race,” said Hornaday. “From the first lap on this truck was like qualifying. In practice we knew we were good enough to win.”

Hornaday’s biggest challenge at the end came from Johnny Benson, who chased down Kvapil for second and then came up 0.350-second short of victory after a green/white/checker finish. “I used up my tires trying to get by him, and didn’t really have anything for him there at the end,” said Benson. “It seemed like everyone needed to run the high groove to be fast, so that made it hard to pass anybody.”

Skinner fought an ill-handling truck from early on and his miserable evening continued all the way up until he lost two positions on the final lap. Hornaday’s third victory of the season coupled with Skinner’s season worst 20th place finish closed the gap to just 77 points between the top two title rivals. “This is exactly what we need to do to get that championship,” said Hornaday.

Skinner will have a few extra days to regroup as the series heads toward a weekend off before the next scheduled race on Aug. 11 at Nashville Superspeedway.