Harvick Wins; Hornaday the Champ
Valley of the Sun home to a banner Friday night for KHI
From Sporting News Wire Service and USAC Release Kevin Harvick held off Kyle Busch to take the checkered flag in Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, but the big winner was Ron Hornaday Jr., who secured his record fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with a fourth-place finish at the one-mile track, driving the No. 33 Chevrolet owned by Harvick. Harvick won the race despite bringing out the first caution, on Lap 6, with a spin off Turn 4. Hornaday, at 51 the oldest champion of a major NASCAR touring series, overcame an early penalty to claim the series title by finishing ahead of Matt Crafton, the only driver with an outside chance to overtake him. Crafton came home eighth and heads to the final event November 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway locked into second in the series standings. In a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the race one lap past its scheduled distance of 150 laps, Harvick won the race under caution after Tayler Malsam wrecked on the final lap. Aric Almirola was third, followed by Hornaday and polesitter Johnny Sauter. "To see Hornaday lock up the championship tonight and win the race, I don't think you could script it much better," said Harvick, who at one point slept on Hornaday's black leather couch when he was trying to make a name for himself in racing. "I thought I had screwed it up there in the beginning. I thought I got in oil. I about spun out in the turn before down there and came down here and just spun out, and (crew chief) Ernie (Cope) said the tire was bald when we came in. It just kind of took me a while to get back in the swing of things. I had lost a little bit of confidence in the truck. "We got a little tight and made an adjustment there on the last stop and just came on strong." Hornaday broke a tie for most series championships with his close friend Jack Sprague, who is not active in the series this year. And even at 51, Hornaday is confident he can add to his championship total. "We're not done," Hornaday said. "As long as Kevin and DeLana will still have me, we're going to win some more. When you drive Kevin and DeLana's equipment, you feel like you're 18 years old." On Lap 6, Harvick slid up the track into Almirola's Toyota and spun toward the infield, but neither truck lost a lap because of the accident. In fact, Almirola passed Busch for the lead on Lap 44 and stretched his advantage to 3.3 seconds by Lap 65. Harvick was running third by then, having changed tires on Lap 35, under caution for Brad Sweet's spin in Turn 3. Hornaday drew a penalty for improper fueling under caution on Lap 35, when the fuel-filler can was inserted into the receptacle on the truck before the catch can was in place. Faced with restarting from the rear of the field, Hornaday returned to pit road for tires and gradually worked his way through the field. By Lap 81, Hornaday was 12th, seven positions behind Crafton, who had not stopped for tires. Hornaday passed Crafton in the pits on Lap 92 - under caution called when Wheeler Boys slowed on the backstretch - after Crafton was forced to retrieve a dropped lug nut. Hornaday restarted seventh on Lap 96 and quickly gained two positions, while Crafton remained mired in ninth place until he slipped past David Starr for eighth on Lap 107. Santos emerges on last lap for Midget victory; Whitt rules Silver Crown field in finale The old adage is simple. It doesn't matter how many laps you lead, as long as you lead the last. By taking the lead on the final turns of the last lap, Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass. emerged the winner of Thursday night’s 25-mile USAC National/Western Midget race at the 34th "Copper World Classic" at Phoenix International Raceway. Santos wrested the lead from Bryan Clauson on lap 23, then slipped behind Clauson at the white flag. On the final lap, Clauson slid high in turn three and Santos went on to the win in his Santos Motorsports Beast/Esslinger Ford. Pole starter Bobby East finished second ahead of Alex Bowman, Brad Kuhn, and Cole Whitt. Kuhn extended his National point lead to 40 points over Brad Sweet, who finished 14th, while Western Midget point leader Garrett Hansen finished 24th in Thursday's race. East led the first seven laps and Clauson led the next 15 before the final three lap dramatics. Where Santos' Midget victory was secured only in the race's waning turns, Cole Whitt of Alpine, Calif. led the final 83 laps to win Thursday's 100-mile USAC K &amp; N Silver Crown Championship race. Whitt piloted the Aristocrat Products Beast/Gaerte to the win over Kody Swanson, who made a determined late-race bid for victory. Tracy Hines took third ahead of A.J. Fike and Levi Jones. Pole starter Jason Leffler was ninth and Bud Kaeding, who had already clinched the series title entering the race, was eighth. Jones led the opening lap and Leffler led the next 16 before yielding to Whitt. The win was Whitt’s first under the USAC sanction on pavement. Tickets to witness the championship atmosphere of the November NASCAR event weekend at Phoenix International Raceway - with prices as low as $25 for the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 - can be purchased online at the newly-designed PhoenixRaceway.com or by calling 1-866-408-RACE (7223). The PIR Ticket Office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 125 S. Avondale Blvd., just south of I-10 at Exit 131 in Avondale.