Fans of NASCAR truck series racing at Texas Motor Speedway must think every race ends in a green-white-checker finish. For the past two years, four races, TMS fans have been treated to racing’s version of overtime, an extra two laps of racing that’s added when a race would otherwise end under caution.
It happened again Friday night, as Ron Hornaday, Jr. held off a late-charging Kyle Bush to win the Sam’s Town 400.
Hornaday and his No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado was the class of the field, leading 140 of 172 laps, a new track record for laps led by a winner at TMS.
Photo by Lindsey Perkins
Kevin Harvick Inc. teammates Ron Hornaday, Jr.  and Jack Sprague  battle for the lead of the Sam's Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.
For nearly the entire night, Hornaday and teammate Jack Sprague battled side-by-side for the lead, usually seconds ahead of any competition.
It’s a turning point for the two drivers, who drive for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick’s team. In recent years, Toyota has been the dominate manufacturer in the truck series, and Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge have had to step up their performance to remain competitive.
“They’re [team members] working with us to figure out where we need the horsepower and they’re putting it in the right places; in the torque,” Hornaday said. “Last year we were down so much from the other manufacturers, and [we] worked so hard to get our trucks through the corners; they’re giving us what we need to get these trucks through the corner.”
While Hornaday and Sprague led the pack of 35 cars, all eyes were on Busch, a regular in the Sprint Cup Series. Busch is attempting a historic feat this weekend, driving in three different NASCAR national touring races at three different tracks in three different states.
Because of the tight schedule of flying from Pocono, Pennsylvania, the site of Sunday’s cup series race, to Fort Worth for tonight’s race, he did not qualify the truck, which relegated him to the back of the field for the start.
Busch charged through the field in the opening laps, cracking into the top 20 within the race’s first eight laps. By lap 54, Busch was in the top ten.
Despite what appeared to be a commanding performance, Busch said he battled with the truck all night.
“We had too much air underneath the truck in the beginning,” Busch explained after the race. “We were sideways there in the middle of the runs, absolutely just barely hanging on.”
Busch said not practicing in the truck made it impossible for it to be set up to his liking. Backup driver J.R. Norris practiced and qualified the truck, but it just wasn’t right for Busch.
“J.R. did the best he could, but man, it just wasn’t for me from the beginning,” he said.
Hornaday’s win also earned him the lead in the truck series points standings.
The action doesn’t stop at TMS. Saturday, the Indy Racing League will hit the 1.5-mile track for the Bombardier Learjet 550. Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon will start from the pole of the record-tying 28 car field. Saturday’s event marks the first time the newly merged IRL and Champ Car Series teams will race at TMS.