- Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 19:31
- Published on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 19:31
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For drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series, the Toyota All-Star Showdown is a chance to showcase their talent in the biggest event of the year. For Ron Hornaday Jr, it will be more of a homecoming.
Hornaday, who prior to becoming a three-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (formerly the Craftsman Truck Series) spent much of his time in and around the Camping World Series West. This past weekend he announced plans to compete in next month’s all-star event at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale California.
The prestigious event, slated for Jan 23-24, is considered the Daytona 500 of short track racing. It will feature two days of racing and will air live on the SPEED TV channel both nights.
Hornaday’s father, Ron Sr. was a two time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, when it was known as the NASCAR Winston West Series, winning back to back titles in 1963 and 1964. The younger Hornaday made 48 starts in the series between 1989 and 2001, nearly winning the championship in 1994.
Now he will get the opportunity to return to the series and compete in the sixth edition of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. “I’ve always wanted to run it,” Hornaday said. “It’s been a great series. That’s how I got noticed in the earlier days when I was racing Winter Heat on TV.” Incidentally Roush-Fenway driver Greg Biffle also got his big break when Benny Parsons spotted him driving in the Winter Heats.
Although he moved on to become a regular in the Camping World Truck Series, as well as in the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup Series, Hornaday returned from time to time to race in the Camping World Series West through 2001. One of those opportunities was the first NASCAR Camping World Series West race at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale in 1999. He finished fourth in the event, trailing race winner Steve Portenga, Bill Sedgwick and Butch Gilliland at the finish.
Despite the ten years that have passed since, Hornaday says he has a vivid recollection of the track. “I remember like it was the back of my hand, because it was racing just like Tucson when I kind of made a name for myself,” he said. “It’s a triple groove race track, where you can run the top, middle, or bottom.
While he expects the track to be much the same, Hornaday anticipates the competition will be different. Hornaday joins a list of top short track drivers who have already committed to running in the event, including Camping World East and West champions Matt Kobyluck and Eric Holmes. Also confirmed to compete are 2007 champion Mike David, and four drives who have earned Rookie of the Year honors in the Camping World Series in the past few years, Jason Bowles, Peyton Sellers, Jeff Berkshire, and Austin Dillon .
”Everything’s changed so much,” Hornaday said “Everyone’s learned so much about the cars. It’s so competitive, I’m looking forward to going out there to put on a good show and give the fan’s a good race.” Hornaday, who hails from Palmdale California, prior to moving to North Carolina said he looks forward to seeing a lot of old friends. “I’ve got a lot of friends that I grew up with and went to school with and some have followed my career. It’ll be great to see them,” he said.
In addition to the Camping World Series, the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown’s two days of racing will include racing in the Whelen All-American Series with Late Model and Super Late Model races. Hornaday plans on competing in the Super Late Model race, driving for a car builder he knew early in his racing career.
“The first car I ever bought was from Dave Jackson,” Hornaday recalled. “It’s been about 25 years since I drove one of his cars. It’s going to be neat. I really appreciate them bringing a car out for me and the opportunity to drive for them. It’s going to be fun. I’m really looking forward to it.”
In addition to being three time champion in the Camping World Truck series, Hornaday was a two time champion in the former NASCAR Southwest Tour. His racing resume also includes 179 starts in the Nationwide Series and 45 starts in the Sprint Cup Series.