Daytona Beach, FL — For drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series, the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown is a chance to showcase their talent in the biggest event of the year. For Ron Hornaday Jr., it will be more of a homecoming.
Hornaday – who prior to becoming a three-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, spent much of his life in and around the NASCAR Camping World Series West – recently announced plans to compete in next month’s all-star event at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.).
The prestigious postseason event, slated for Jan. 23-24, is considered the ‘Daytona 500 of short-track racing.’ It will feature two days of racing and will air live on SPEED beginning at 7 p.m. PT both nights.
Hornaday’s father, Ron Sr., was a two-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, when it was known as the NASCAR Winston West Series – winning back-to-back titles in 1963 and 1964. The younger Hornaday made 46 starts in the series between 1989 and 2001, nearly winning the championship in 1994.
Now he will get the opportunity to return to the series and compete in the sixth edition of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
“I’ve always wanted to run it,” Hornaday said. “It’s been a great series. That’s how I got noticed in the earlier days when I was racing Winter Heat on TV.”
Although he moved on to become a regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as well as competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Hornaday returned from time to time to race in the NASCAR Camping World Series West through 2001. One of those opportunities was the first NASCAR Camping World Series West race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in 1999. He finished fourth in that event – trailing race winner Steve Portenga, Bill Sedgwick and Butch Gilliland at the finish.
Despite the 10 years that have passed since, Hornaday says he has a vivid recollection of the track.
“I remember like it was the back of my hand, because it was racing just like Tucson where I kind of made a name for myself,” he said. “It’s a triple-groove race track, where you can run the top, middle and bottom.”
While he expects the track to be much the same, Hornaday anticipates the competition will be different.
Hornaday joins a list of top short-track drivers who have already committed to running in the event, including NASCAR Camping World Series East and West champions, Matt Kobyluck and Eric Holmes. Also confirmed to compete are 2007 NASCAR Camping World Series West champion Mike David, four drivers who have earned rookie of the year honors in the NASCAR Camping World Series in the last three season (Jason Bowles, Peyton Sellers, Jeff Barkshire, and Austin Dillon), and Brian Ickler, winner of the NASCAR Camping World Series combination race in Iowa this past May.
“Everything’s changed so much,” he said. “Everyone’s learned so much about the cars. It’s so competitive. I’m looking forward to going out there to put a good show on and give the fans a good race.”
Hornaday, who hailed from Palmdale, Calif., prior to moving to North Carolina, also looks forward to seeing a lot of his old friends at the all-star event.
“I’ve got a lot of friends that I grew up with and went to school with and some who have followed my career. It’ll be great to see them,” he said.
In addition to the NASCAR Camping World Series, the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown’s two days of racing will also include action in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series with Late Model and Super Late Model races. Hornaday’s homecoming plans include competing in the Super Late Model race, driving for a car builder he knew early in his racing career.
“The first car I ever bought was from Dave Jackson,” Hornaday recalled. “It’s been about 25 years since I drove one of his cars. It’s going to be neat. I really appreciate them bringing a car out for me and the opportunity to drive out there. It’s going to be fun. I’m really looking forward to it.”
In addition to being a three-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Hornaday was a two-time champion in the former NASCAR Southwest Tour. His racing resume also includes 179 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and 45 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
To purchase tickets for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, fans can go to www.toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com or call the track at (626) 358-1100.
Sources: Kevin Green/NASCAR PR