News & Media

Truck Preview: Harvick, Hornaday home in on Martinsville

April 01, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

Hornaday is riding back-to-back top-three finishes heading into weekend

Kevin Harvick Inc. has gone without a win in the first three races of the 2011 Camping World Truck Series season.

With Martinsville Speedway up next, the gates to Victory Lane could be about to swing wide open.

KHI trucks have captured three of the past four Martinsville Truck Series events, with team co-owner/part-time driver Kevin Harvick winning consecutive spring races and four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday winning last fall.

Harvick is set to make his first Truck Series start of 2011 this weekend in the familiar No. 2 Chevrolet that is fielded out of the shop he co-owns with wife DeLana.

"We swept both races last season. It'd be really cool to do that again this year. "


That shop -- in Kernersville, N.C. -- is 45 minutes south of Martinsville Speedway.

Given the close proximity, KHI drivers and team members are prone to unload at the .526-mile oval with a little extra enthusiasm. And their trucks are usually fast, too.

"Kevin loves to run Martinsville," said Hornaday, who followed Harvick to the finish line at Martinsville last spring. "It's close, he calls it his home track now because it's right next to Kernersville and not far from his house."

Martinsville could be KHI's house again in Saturday's Kroger 250.

Hornaday is riding back-to-back top-three finishes in his No. 33 truck, and Harvick is fresh off a big win in last Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway.

Between the drivers' momentum and KHI's recent success at Martinsville, the organization could be primed for another big day.

"We swept both races last season," Harvick said. "It'd be really cool to do that again this year."

Hornaday's victory last fall was his first in 17 tries at the paperclip-shaped oval. It also was one of the bright spots in an otherwise trying season that culminated in two wins and a seventh-place points finish that equaled Hornaday's worst in 11 full seasons.

"That definitely was a booster for us because we'd run good there," said Hornaday, who out dueled Kyle Busch for the victory. "We just hadn't gotten the checkered flag and we finally got one of them, so I'm looking forward to going back."

Hornaday will roll into Martinsville this time with Jeff Hensley as his crew chief. Hensley, a native of nearby Ridgeway, Va., and multiple winner at Martinsville as a crew chief, joined Hornaday's No. 33 team in the offseason, and the new pairing has been productive.

If not for a crash in the season opener at Daytona, Hornaday could have the points lead. As it is, he's sixth in the standings and 12 points behind leader Matt Crafton.

"Jeff brought some good guys in, a great team," Hornaday said. "They really believe in me and I believe what Jeff says, so I'm really pleased with the way everything's going right now. We did a couple tests to learn each other, and it's paying off at the race track."

For Hensley, Martinsville really is home.

Martinsville statistics | Top-20 drivers

(past three races)
RankDriverRacesWinTop-fiveTop-10PoleLapsLedAvg. St.Avg. Fin.
2Kevin Harvick312206562222.77.0
3Aric Almirola30120656010.77.7
4Timothy Peters312206131239.313.0
5Matt Crafton3003065609.08.7
6Todd Bodine302205798312.711.7
7David Starr30020652013.011.0
8Jason White30110612014.715.3
9Johnny Sauter30000655497.017.3
10Mike Skinner30011628155.018.7
11Hermie Sadler30000507023.319.7
12Norm Benning30000637027.324.0
13Ricky Carmichael2002045609.09.5
14Brent Raymer30000549026.724.7
15Stacy Compton20010406013.011.0
16James Buescher20000406013.511.5
17Max Papis20010449022.014.5
18Austin Dillon20000455014.016.0
19Rick Crawford2000044608.517.0
20Dennis Setzer20010401023.518.0

"Martinsville is special," he said. "Just driving 10 minutes to the house and getting to sleep in my own bed at the end of a busy day at the track is really nice. Walking into the track this week I definitely feel an extra bit of confidence being here with KHI and Ron Hornaday."