Busch’s win is his 50th in the Truck Series but the first at his home track. It came in his second Truck Series start at LVMS, his first there since 2001.
“It was really, really fast. I just felt like we were struggling in the long run,” Busch told FS1. “I was hoping somebody would get behind me, so we could just get away and duke it out, but that was kind of too short a run there in order to do that.”
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Stewart Friesen finished fifth after leading 31 laps in Stage 2, a career-best outside of Eldora Speedway (where he led 93 laps in 2017). … Brett Moffitt’s third-place finish is the first time Hattori Racing Enterprises had placed in the top three in consecutive races. … In his first Truck race since 2016, Justin Marks finished 11th after spinning on Lap 15.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: John Hunter Nemechek finished 21st after losing his right-front tire on a Lap 21 restart sequence. … After pitting following the first stage break, Matt Crafton wen to the garage for a brake problem. He finished 29th. … Justin Haley wrecked with 63 laps to go after getting loose between two trucks and then making contact with Myatt Snider. He finished 28th.
NOTABLE: Johnny Sauter has finished in the top three in the last eight races. … Kyle Busch is one win away from tying Ron Hornaday Jr. for most career wins in the Truck Series.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “These lapped trucks are out here trying to make a living too. I get it, but holy moly.” – Kyle Busch on how lapped traffic affected the race’s outcome.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – The call came “out of the blue” in November.
The name “Horny” flashed on Wayne Auton’s phone.
The nickname belonged to Ron Hornaday Jr., four-time Camping World Truck Series champion and one of Auton’s closet friends.
Earlier in the year, the former Truck Series director and current manager of the Xfinity Series had been the one to call Hornaday and let Hornaday know he was one of the nominees for the 2018 class in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“Hey, buddy, I need you to do something for me,” Hornaday said. “I want you to induct me into the Hall of Fame.”
Auton needed a moment.
“Ron, did you just say what I thought you said?” He eventually responded.
“Damn man, you need to let somebody in your family do that.”
“No, you are my family.”
Auton began crying.
For two days Hornaday couldn’t sleep.
The 59-year-old native of Palmdale, California, fretted over the speech he’d give Friday night at the Charlotte Convention Center as the first Truck Series champion to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“This is really the crown jewel of everything he’s done,” Hornaday’s wife, Lindy Hornaday told NBC Sports. “He was scared he was going to forget somebody and I said, ‘Everybody knows you and they know that you’re thankful to everybody. So don’t thank anybody specifically. Just thank them all.'”
Friday morning, Hornaday woke up without a speech set in stone.
“I got up at 9 o’clock this morning and it was like *makes gagging noises*,” Hornaday said. “I walked away, took a deep breath, come back and I couldn’t do it again. And I said to hell with it. When I started seeing my friends and family, something will come to me instead of trying to read this speech off that prompter. I got back to the room and I’ve never had an anger deal, I don’t know what it’s called in your stomach, but my stomach was turning over so bad. I was regurgitating air for about four hours. I finally fell asleep for a little while. My wife wanted to go to lunch. I sent her with all the family to lunch. I finally thought about thinking about what this really means and still didn’t know what it meant until I started seeing friends, family, peers, the Hall of Famers. They really just got me into a different mood. I did that one sober. Usually I get a couple of beers in me before I speak.
“Everybody’s telling me, ‘be yourself, take your time.’ How can you do that? It’s the freakin’ Hall of Fame!”
Those are the same words Hornaday bellowed at the beginning of his unscripted speech, with both arms raised high.
“That was the best part about the whole thing,” Hornaday said. “Had to break the ice, just to get somebody to giggle. And I knew I could get on a roll.”
Hornaday said he only forgot to mention Chevrolet, the manufacturer he earned all 55 of his NASCAR wins with.
During the two days Hornaday fretted over his speech, Auton was with him.
The two first encountered each other in 1995, the inaugural season of the Truck Series.
“He was there at every one of my wins,” Hornaday told NBC Sports. “He’s the one that gave me the words of wisdom, he’s the one that pulled me down and closed doors and told me what I had done wrong on the race track. He’s the one that chewed my butt out, he’s the one that when he got all done and said I’d chew his butt out. We got all done and said and we’d get a beer together.”
For 18 years, the two were “friends, enemies and warriors,” said Auton.
“Whether he won, whether he lost … when we were inside the gate we had a job to do,” Auton said. “When we walked outside the gate we were very good friends. We had to have a beer together. Cold beverage. We knew each other’s family like they were our own.”
Leading up to the ceremony, the two pestered each other about what the other would say when the time came.
“I said, ‘Ron, I just hope I don’t pee in my pants,'” Auton said.
“When he was up there speaking, I seen him shaking pretty good,” Hornaday said. “I’m glad I got back to him and made him as nervous as I was.”
Standing on the auditorium floor afterward, Auton described the moment as “the biggest honor” he could ask for.
“I’ll never top that.”
When they left the stage, it took them awhile to get back to their seats.
Auton said they stopped to have a cold Coors Light.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame’s ninth class of inductees won’t be remembered so much for the imprint left on the record books as on the revolutions in stock-car racing.
In a video essay that will be shown during tonight’s induction ceremony (which will begin at 8 p.m. on NBCSN), Robert Yates, Ray Evernham, Red Byron, Ken Squier and Ron Hornaday Jr. are saluted as much for what they achieved as how they accomplished it – and their lasting effects on the machines and people that they touched.
–Yates’ ingenuity with engines ranked him among the greatest engine builders. But along with the wins and championships, he also imparted life lessons and knowledge to the apt pupils who are carrying on his successful legacy.
— A crew chief with three Cup championships and 47 wins, Evernham transformed how races and teams were managed, from innovative car designs to clever tire strategies to finely tuned pit crews.
–As the premier series’ first champion, Byron raced with a special brace connecting his leg (which was injured in World War II) to the clutch pedal, embodying the self-determination and grit of NASAR.
–“The Great American Race” was coined by Squier, whose pitch-perfect wordsmithing helped make him a broadcasting legend whose dulcet tones described some watershed moments in evocative and remarkable detail.
–Four championships made Hornaday synonymous with the truck series, but he indirectly played a role in eight Cup titles, turning his couch into “Camp Hornaday” for fellow California natives and budding stars Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.
You can watch the video essay above or by clicking here.
Robert Yates tribute car gifted to son, Roush Yates Engines
A week before his father is inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Doug Yates and the employees at Roush Yates Engines received a special gift.
On Tuesday, Roush Fenway Racing presented them with the Robert Yates tribute car that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove at Phoenix Raceway last November. The No. 17 Ford was made to look like the No. 28 Havoline Ford that Davey Allison drove for Robert Yates Racing in the early 90s.
Kyle Busch will run in the Camping World Truck Series races at Atlanta (Feb. 24), Las Vegas (March 2), Kansas (May 11), Charlotte (May 18) and Pocono (July 28), Kyle Busch Motorsports announced Thursday. Textron Aviation will sponsor Busch.
He’ll run at Atlanta and Kansas in the No. 4 Truck and the other three races in the No. 51.
NASCAR rules limit drivers with more than five years Cup experience to a maximum five Truck races this season (down from seven last year).
Busch enters the season second on the Truck career victory list with 49. Ron Hornaday Jr., who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Jan. 19, is the series’ all-time leader with 51 victories.
Busch won three of his seven series starts last year. He has finished first or second in 73 of his 140 career Truck starts (52.1 percent)