News & Media

Taking all callers: Hornaday looking for ride

September 12, 2011, Mark Aumann,

With KHI's decision to shut down Truck team, four-time champ scrambling

Ron Hornaday has four Truck Series championship trophies and 49 wins. But he's also a realist.

"I'm trying to get people to believe in a 53-year-old guy who can go out and still win races," Hornaday said Monday.

"I'm trying to get people to believe in a 53-year-old guy who can go out and still win races."


When Kevin Harvick announced plans last weekend to shutter KHI's Truck Series team, Hornaday suddenly found himself needing to update his resume. And in addition to his age, Hornaday doesn't have sponsor money to bring along.

"That's definitely hard for me because I've never gone to a race team where they've needed money," Hornaday said. "I've always done it on my talent or they had a sponsor in place. When Dale [Earnhardt] called me [in 1995], they had NAPA come aboard and he signed me up to a three-year deal. Now it's year by year and who can bring the most money. It's tough out there."

Even before winning at Atlanta, Hornaday had an inkling something was up.

"Well, you hear all kinds of rumors and everything, and Kevin was playing hard to find around the shop," Hornaday said. "He wasn't answering calls. The day he made the announcement he was going to take the cars up to RCR, he gave me a call and kind of filled me in on what was going on."

But at the time, Harvick hadn't finalized plans for his Truck teams.

"When he got to Richmond, he announced it that morning that the Trucks won't be back," Hornaday said. "He gave me a call and told me that would happen. Everything was up the air. He was definitely upfront with me. He was the first one to call me. Then he went and talked to the guys in the shop."

There are eight races left this season, and Hornaday plans on being competitive in every one. But there's the catch -- KHI may not finish out the year.

"The truck we were going to take up there, I went to put a seat in it and the motor had been taken out of it because they had sold that one," Hornaday said. "[Kevin's] definitely selling trucks and everything up there -- everything is definitely sold -- when [the buyers] get it, I don't know.

"[I have] no commitment of finishing the year but he's still working on it."

Hornaday said he appreciates what Kevin and DeLana Harvick did for him, not only on but off the track.

"A lot of people don't know what he's done for me in my career," Hornaday said. "I got sick a couple of years ago and went to my doctor. I went through every CAT scan and everything you could go through, and the doctor said I was fine.

"Kevin didn't believe it. I ran California that weekend and when I got home Monday morning, Kevin was sitting in the front seat of the car and said, 'Come on, let's go for a ride.' We pulled into the hospital up there in Winston-Salem and went to Kevin's doctors and they found my Graves disease."

Hornaday said no one was able to figure out why he was losing weight at that point.

"Kevin and DeLana saved my life by getting me into a doctor and finding out," Hornaday said. "They not only gave me championships and wins, but he actually gave me my life back."

One thing's for certain, he's nowhere close to retirement. If Hornaday can land a ride for 2012, he'll be out there.

"They say the Trucks are a starting point and it's a great series for a kid who's coming up and learning," Hornaday said. "But it's still giving me a good living where I can keep my house and all the things I like to do. We've been trying to scale back for the past year, trying to sell our house. But we bought our house for investment and I'm not going to just give it away with the market being so bad. I might be stuck with it for a while.

"These new kids are trying to make a name for themselves and I don't want them to make a name for themselves right yet."

So for now, Hornaday concentrates on what he can control -- beginning with this weekend's Fast Five 225 at Chicagoland -- and hopes the right offer is out there for a 53-year-old four-time champion.

"I'm looking at all the options and there's not too many out there, but I've been talking to a lot of different people," Hornaday said. "It's easy to talk to people, but it's a matter of 'what can you bring to the table?'

"[In the past,] when I look at the phone and there's no number listed, I don't usually answer it. Now, when anybody calls, I'm answering it. It doesn't matter what area code it is."