Ryan Newman wins Atlanta Truck race
Newman passed Hornaday on the high side with one lap to go to regain the top spot and held him off to become the fourth driver in series history to win in his first NCTS start.
“I’m not sure if I should retire from the truck series right now, but I don’t think Kevin and DeLana (Harvick) will let me do it,” said Newman. “I didn’t know what to expect, I was pretty loose for the whole race. Hornaday started slipping sometimes off of (turn) four and I started reeling him in a little bit. I got the high line in (turn) one and two, the bottom line in (turn) three and four.”
Hornaday, led three times for 110 laps, picked up five bonus points for leading the most laps in his runner-up effort. Denny Hamlin was third, followed by Todd Bodine and Scott Speed.
Hornaday held the lead for 109 of the first 122 laps before Newman, driving as Hornaday’s teammate for team owner Kevin Harvick, powered past with eight laps to go.
Once out in front, Newman tried to open up some distance, but Hornaday fought back and caught up to Newman, running side by side as the duo came to the start/finish line to take the white flag.
It was then Newman’s turn to battle back, as the 2002 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year held his ground and passed Hornaday on the backstretch, pulling out to a .337-second advantage as they came to the checkered flag.
“Let me tell you, second stinks,” said Hornaday. “We ran good all day, I just missed the corner down there in (turn) two and (Newman) ran me down.
“Ryan ran the top, and I ran the bottom and he started following me down there in (turn) three and four and he figured out the line down there and the draft pulled me around and got me sideways going into (turn) three and he got the momentum.”
Coming into Saturday's race with just 65 points behind Johnny Benson, Hornaday was looking to gain some ground in the tight points race.
After weather conditions washed out qualifying, Benson started in the top spot but quickly fell back with an ill-handling truck as Hornaday stormed to the front on lap 10.
With Hornaday out in front, Benson’s team fought back, struggling to keep the points leader on the lead lap. With the help of some timely yellow flags, Benson managed to recover to finish seventh, allowing him to maintain a 31 point cushion with three races left in the season.
“We definitely didn’t have the week we thought we were going to have,” said Benson. “We started the race and struggled with something. We had something amiss and we just have to try and find it.”
Benson wasn’t the only one in the points battle in trouble, as third-place Matt Crafton and fourth-place Mike Skinner both spent time behind the wall, finishing 29th and 27th respectively.
Despite the championship battle, Harvick insisted there were no team orders for Newman to go easy on Hornaday.
“That’s wishful thinking on (Hornaday’s) part,” said Harvick. “When it comes to winning races, that’s what we’re all here for. If it would have been for fifth or sixth, maybe you think about something about that, but not when it comes to winning.”
Bodine moved up one spot to take third in the points, 218 points back. Erik Darnell jumped up two spots to fourth while Crafton fell to fifth, both 297 points behind the leader.
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