Originally created 01/19/98

Hornaday wins, extends streak



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ron Hornaday became the first driver to win a race in all four seasons of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, capturing the Chevy Trucks Challenge at Walt Disney World Speedway Sunday.

He was helped when rivals Mike Wallace and Joe Ruttman crashed late in the race.

Hornaday, driving a Chevrolet, also got an assist from Mike Bliss, who inherited the lead following the accident but was forced into pit road under caution when his Ford ran out of fuel.

Hornaday, who led three times before going in front to stay on the 199th lap, beat defending Chevy Trucks Challenge winner Ruttman by .211 seconds. The $538,535 race over the one-mile superspeedway, scheduled for 200 laps, was extended to 204 because of a ninth caution period.

Hornaday's 18th career victory, tops in the series, was worth $48,625.

Rick Carelli, who started 17th in a Chevrolet, passed defending series champion Jack Sprague on the final lap to finish third. Sprague's Chevrolet took fourth, ahead of Greg Biffle, a rookie making his first start on the tour in a Ford owned by Jack Roush. Biffle battled his way up from 20th to claim fifth.

The top 12 finishers completed all 204 laps. The race was run at a record average speed of 94.033 mph, despite 42 laps of caution. There were no injuries.

Wallace, a former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver seeking his first victory in a Chevrolet owned by Ken Schrader, was knocked out of the race and finished 24th.

He had taken the lead from Hornaday on the 167th lap, but Ruttman, who passed Sprague on the final lap to win last year's race, caught his black Chevy on the 196th lap. The pair ran side-by-side all the way around the tri-oval, touched in Turn 3 and spun out. Hornaday, running fourth, barely missed the accident.

"I don't think tough is the word for what happened today," Wallace said. "My heart's breaking."

"It was just two guys racing to win," Ruttman said. "If he'd lifted, I would have won. If I lifted, he would have won."

Ruttman's driving partner, pole winner Chuck Bown, led all 116 laps before the field pitted for mid-race tires and adjustments. Hornaday, however, passed Bown on the restart, and Bown, checking up for a slower truck, spun out and hit the wall on lap 156. After repairs, he finished 25th.