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Hornaday Streaks On, Smooches Gibson Guitar

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 2 2009
Ron Hornaday Jr. and crew chief Rick Ren display the Sam Bass-painted guitar/trophy that some drivers value so highly. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Ron Hornaday Jr. and crew chief Rick Ren display the Sam Bass-painted guitar/trophy that some drivers value so highly. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Gladeville, Tn. – Ron Hornaday became the first driver in 38 years to win five consecutive NASCAR races when he captured Saturday night’s Toyota Tundra 200 at Nashville Superspeeday, and afterwards he gave the trademark Gibson guitar trophy a smooch instead of a smash.

When Kyle Busch won the track’s June Nationwide race he dashed the Sam Bass-painted guitar to bits in a “rock star-style celebration.” Hornaday celebrated differently, holding the trophy aloft, then giving it a kiss.

He said it was a special tribute to a special win.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Hornaday, whose 0.944-second victory over Brian Scott added to his record string of wins in the NASCAR Camping World Series. It is the most consecutive wins in any of NASCAR’s national series since Richard Petty and Bobby Allison each won five straight in the Cup Series in 1971.

“Someday it will mean a lot when I sit down with my kids and grandkids and look back in the record book and see my name in there with heroes like Richard Petty and Bobby Allison,” Hornaday said.

Hornaday led 115 of the 154 laps (the race went two laps into overtime after a late caution resulted in a green-white-checkered finish.) Even after the final caution allowed the field to pull up on Hornaday’s rear bumper, he made a jackrabbit start and was never challenged on the final two laps around the 1.3-mile concrete track.

“I was thinking, ‘Hey, I’m gonna win five in a row!’” he said.

The 51-year-old Hornaday has accumulated 45 victories in the truck series over the years, but said he never imagined anyone could win five in a row.

“I can’t explain it,” he said. “The Racing Gods are on our side. I’m not wearing lucky underwear or anything.”

Scott said Hornaday’s Chevy was simply untouchable.

“He’s a legend, he’s the man,” Scott said. “Five in a row is an amazing accomplishment and I congratulate Ron. He’s a good friend and he’s helped me a lot in this sport. Someday I hope to accomplish something like this in my career.”

Colin Braun, who settled for third, said, “What Ron has done is amazing; his whole team has been amazing. But finishing behind him does get a little frustrating.”

Hornaday, who qualified fourth, got a brief scare at the start when his truck wouldn’t fire. His pit crew lifted the hood, did some tinkering, and the motor roared to life. Hornaday said something apparently stuck in the carburetor, “but I wasn’t too concerned. My guys got it going.”

Hornaday’s sizzling streak has him in firm control of the point standings. He leads Matt Crafton by 216 points after 14 of 25 races.

Hornaday was asked his thoughts about Busch destroying his trophy guitar.

“No comment,” he said, then added: “I thought it was a little disrespectful. A Sam Bass guitar is something special.”

Bass, who said he was “heart-broken” to see his guitar smashed by Busch, served as grand marshal of the race. Retired Titans star Frank Wycheck was the honorary starter.

Despite a threat of rain, an announced crowd of 25,000 turned out for the track’s 9th season finale.

Cliff Hawks, the Superspeedway vice president/general manager, said he was pleased with the way the season went and is already making plans for next year. The track is expected to again have two Nationwide races and a truck race.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 2 2009