Ron Hornaday's bid for a second straight Camping World Truck Series title hasn't exactly gotten off to a smooth start, but the 13-year series veteran isn't panicking.
Despite finishing 27th in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and later learning that crew chief Dave Fuge would be replaced, Hornaday is upbeat heading into Saturday's Atlanta 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The 51-year old has overcome early-season adversity in the past, including 2008 when he finished 25th at Daytona but rallied to finish second in the final standings, seven points short of the championship.
"There's no urgency," said Hornaday, who won six races last year en route
to a record-setting fourth series championship, "We've got 24 races left and, if we get on a roll like we did last year, we'll be fine."
Kevin Harvick Inc co-owners Kevin and DeLana Harvick appointed Fuge the successor to Rick Ren after Ren's off-season defection to newly formed Kyle Busch Motorsports, but Fuge parted ways with KHI after one race. Doug George, who was hired in early December as the crew chief for KHI's number two truck, has moved over to Hornaday's #33 Chevrolet where he'll call the shots from this weekend.
Hornaday and George are actually old rivals, having competed against each other for a championship in the '90s in what was then known as NASCAR's Winston West Series.
"It's really ironic because Ron and I were pretty fierce competitors, and now we're working on the same team for the same goal," 49-year old George said, as Hornaday attempts to bounce back from Daytona, where his race was ruined in a crash on lap 32.
"The good thing about Doug is he's drove before, he doesn't have an ego, he knows what it takes," Hornaday said, "I can still yell at him when you get out there and the truck's not performing like it's supposed to - he's been in the position of having the pressure of driving and crew chiefing and he's been around a long time."
George was the winning crew chief one year ago at Atlanta with Kyle Busch and Billy Ballew Motorsports, while Hornaday has a win and five top tens in nine starts at the 1.54-mile track.
"I think we've got a really good baseline setup to start with," George said, "To me, it doesn't matter if we're going to Martinsville or Atlanta or wherever. Our common goal here at KHI is to run up front and win races and run for a championship here with the #33."
by Jared Turner / Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service