Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff reteams with four-time Truck Series champ Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Moment Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to sponsor Ron Hornaday Jr . in the season-opening Daytona 500 (Feb. 22, 1 p.m. ET, FOX). Hornaday , 56, is returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the first time since the 2003 season finale. The four-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is scheduled to be the primary driver of The Motorsports Group's No. 30 Chevrolet this season. The Curtis Key-owned team announced earlier Tuesday that veteran wrench Pat Tryson will serve as crew chief. Tryson has eight victories as a crew chief in NASCAR's premier series, the most recent coming with Kurt Busch in 2009 during his tenure with Team Penske . The sponsorship deal marks a reunion for Hornaday and Smokey Mountain. The tobacco-free smokeless brand backed his Truck Series efforts in 2012 and 2013, and most recently adorned ThorSport Racing's No. 98 as a primary sponsor for Johnny Sauter in six races last season. "It's an honor to have Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff back on board with me in 2015," Hornaday said in a release provided by the team. "Dave (Savoca, company president) and everyone at Smokey Mountain have always been huge supporters of mine and even after our partnership ended in 2013, we continued to stay in touch. To be able to represent their brand as I attempt to make the Daytona 500 is a dream come true for not only Smokey Mountain as a brand, but for me as a driver." Hornaday ranks as the all-time wins leader in the Camping World Truck Series with 51 victories. His only top-10 finish in the Sprint Cup Series was a ninth-place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2001, his only full season at NASCAR's top level, when he drove for car owner A.J. Foyt. As a driver with a start-up Sprint Cup team, Hornaday will be required to qualify for the Daytona 500 (Feb. 22, 1 p.m. ET, FOX) on his speed in Coors Light Pole Qualifying or through his performance in the Budweiser Duel qualifying races. "Everyone at TMG has been working so hard during the offseason to get ready for 2015," Hornaday said. "I know it's a long shot, but I feel confident in what Curtis has put together. I honestly feel like we have a solid shot at making this race. It takes partners like Smokey Mountain to make this work and I'm going to give it everything I've got." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Junior: 'It's only a 50-lap race so it would be over and done before I even do it' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live As an owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr . ran his first Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway with Cole Custer finishing 16th. When will he make his debut as a driver in the series? He may have given a hint during the FOX Sports 1 "Setup" pre-race show when feature reporter Ray Dunlap mentioned that Pocono Raceway hosts the series on August 1 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). "That would be an opportunity for me to get in there and get my feet wet," Earnhardt said. "It's only a 50-lap race so it would be over and done before I even do it. "I do have interest in driving a truck. I've always had interest in driving a truck, just never really found that opportunity or was focused more on the Cup side at that point in time. But this does open the door a little wide for me. If we don't do it this year, we're going to continue to keep the truck around and work with this program and continue to try to grow it." Serving as an analyst, two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Todd Bodine said Pocono "absolutely" would be a good place for Earnhardt to get behind the wheel. "He's not going to own a race car or race truck that he doesn't get to drive, and you heard him say that he's wanted to drive a truck so it's a perfect opportunity if you own it," Bodine said. Earnhardt recalled his father's Dale Earnhardt Inc. Truck Series team that won two of the first four championships in series history with Ron Hornaday Jr . "I have a lot of great memories of that team," Earnhardt said. "We actually worked in the same shop together, and it had two bays in the back. They were in one bay, and I was across from them in another bay building my Late Model cars that I'd run at Myrtle Beach. I was in there every day, watching them and sort of mimicking them as they built their first truck. I did everything they were doing to my Late Model that they would do to that truck. "I formed a great relationship and friendship with Ron Hornaday so that was pretty cool to be able to forge that relationship early with him." As Earnhardt builds his own Truck team for 17-year-old Custer, he's helping the NASCAR Next driver and sponsor Haas Automation achieve their objectives while JRM is meeting its own milestones. "Their goals are to get Cole into the XFINITY Series at some point so this was an opportunity to begin a relationship with us," Earnhardt said. "It made sense to get into the Truck Series. "For me, it's actually exciting because it's a 10-race deal. You're just kind of getting your feet wet. It's a great way to ease into it so we had the room. We had the interest. They had the program already together, the relationship with Chevrolet. We made it work." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Four-time Truck Series champion will be back in action at Las Vegas and Texas NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday Jr . will return to competition later this year in a deal put together by sponsor Rheem and NTS Motorsports with technical support from Richard Childress Racing . In a release posted on its web site, Rheem said the Atlanta, Georgia, based company would sponsor an entry for Hornaday for two of the final seven races in the series –- the Sept. 27 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as well as the Oct. 31 event at Texas Motor Speedway . According to the company, Rheem "has been working to find the best available truck equipment, crew and technical expertise in an effort to return Hornaday to the truck series before the end of the 2014 season." Hornaday , with funding provided in part by Rheem, was fourth in points when Turner Scott Motorsports officials ceased operations for the No. 30 team earlier this month. He did not compete at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park , dropping to sixth in points, and is not in Saturday night's Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway . NTS currently fields two Truck Series teams with Brennan Newberry and Gray Gaulding as the primary drivers for those teams and the organization has also had Michael Annett, Austin Dillon , John King , Justin Lofton , Chase Pistone and Jason White drive trucks for them this year. It is expected that the Hornaday team will be in addition to those two teams. "Rheem is pleased to play a part in bringing Ron Hornaday back to where he belongs … racing trucks to win and bringing excitement and enjoyment to Camping World Truck Series fans," Ed Raniszeski, managing director for Rheem Motorsports, said. "None of this would have been possible without the solid support of NTS Motorsports and RCR. "We all welcome Ron back and can't wait to see him back in the saddle." Hornaday is a four-time series champion, winning Truck Series titles in 1996, '98, 2007 and '09. He has 51 career wins in the series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Loss of ride sidelined veteran for past three events Four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr ., idle for the last three races, will return to NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Hornaday is scheduled to drive the No. 9 Chevrolet for NTS Motorsports in Saturday night's Rhino Linings 350 (10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). The 56-year-old veteran drove the No. 9 for Joe Denette Motorsports in 2012, then continued in the truck the following year when Denette's team merged with truck owner Bob Newberry's to form NTS. Hornaday was forced to the sidelines after last month's race at Bristol Motor Speedway when Turner Scott Motorsports dialed back its operation from three full-time trucks to two. He returns to the series with a streak of three top-fives in his last four races. "I want to say thanks to Bob Newberry and Rheem for working together to give me this great opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a NCWTS Silverado," said Hornaday , who still ranks 10th in series standings despite missing three races. "I'm looking forward to racing in Las Vegas, as we have a lot of family and friends on the West Coast that will be there." Hornaday has a history of success at the 1.5-mile track outside Sin City. He prevailed at Vegas from the Keystone Light Pole in 2011 while driving for team owner Kevin Harvick , and he finished sixth after leading 23 laps his last time out at LVMS last season. Ryan McKinney will serve as crew chief for Hornaday's efforts this weekend. Four drivers -- Justin Lofton , Brennan Newberry , Chase Pistone and Jason White -- have taken turns behind the wheel of the NTS No. 9 this season. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
With one win, Crafton leads Peters, Hornaday Jr . by eight points in the standings
Ron Hornaday Jr talks about how happy he is jsut to bring his truck home clean with a 3rd place finish and how tough it was to draft tonight.
Ron Hornaday Jr . makes an amazing save after he spins between Turn 3 and Turn 4 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ron Hornaday Jr . makes contact with Brennan Newberry but avoids major contact in the Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Danica Patrick rallies late to make Daytona 500 field Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Buy Daytona 500 gear RELATED: Daytona Duel #1 results " Daytona Duel #2 results " Daytona 500 starting lineup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Hendrick Motorsports swept the front-row starting positions for Sunday's Daytona 500. Apparently enjoying the feeling, HMS then swept Thursday's Budweiser Duel at Daytona twin 150-mile qualifying races. Dale Earnhardt Jr . came from his last-place starting position to win Thursday night's first Budweiser Duel at Daytona 150-mile qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway, as unsung heroes behind him diced their way into the 57th running of the Great American Race (1 p.m. ET on FOX). Jimmie Johnson, on the pole for the second Duel and already locked into the outside of the front row for the Daytona 500, completed the Hendrick sweep with a .125-second victory over Kyle Busch, leading 40 laps in the process. MORE: Driver Reports previews the Daytona 500 In a drama-filled second Duel, both Danica Patrick and David Ragan recovered from wrecks to race their way into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' most prestigious race, Patrick with a strong push from Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch. For the second time during Speedweeks, Patrick was involved in a crash with Denny Hamlin, and the two drivers had an extended animated conversation as soon as the cars parked on pit road. Earnhardt started 25th in the first Duel because his qualifying time was disallowed after inspectors discovered a ride-height violation on his No. 88 Chevrolet after Sunday's time trials. Undeterred, Earnhardt worked his way methodically to the front, grabbing the lead for the first time on Lap 35. All told, Earnhardt led 21 laps and crossed the finish line .165 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Daytona 500 polesitter Jeff Gordon. As the winner of the first Duel, Earnhardt will line up behind Gordon in the third spot on the grid for Sunday's race. MORE: Danica rallies to make Daytona 500 " Mears makes Daytona 500 field In the non-points qualifier, Earnhardt won for the first time with new crew chief Greg Ives, who took over this season for Steve Letarte, hired by NBC Sports as a television analyst. "We have had a great car all week," Earnhardt said. "I'm so glad to be able to get through the Duel in one piece, because I know how good this race car is. We have a couple more practices to go through and try to stay out of trouble during those and put this thing on the grid. We're going to have a fun day on Sunday. "We had to do a lot of blocking there at the end, but those guys were mounting some pretty hard charges. We made a lot of good moves tonight because the car is so good. TJ Majors (spotter) deserves a ton of credit for helping us win that race tonight. He called a great spotting job up on top of the hill there. He gave me all the information I needed to make the moves I needed to kind of keep them guys behind me." Joey Logano came home third, followed by Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer, whose fifth-place finish in a backup car represented a stroke of good fortune during an otherwise star-crossed week at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The real drama in the first Duel, however, took place behind the frontrunners, as Landon Cassill (ninth), Cole Whitt (10th), Michael McDowell (12th), JJ Yeley (13th), Michael Annett (14th) and Ty Dillon (16th) all earned starting spots in the 500. McDowell made the most dramatic move, forcing his way up the middle and racing from the tail end of the field to 12th place on the final lap. "When I crossed that white flag (to start the last lap) I was thinking, 'I have to do this. I don't know what we're gonna do, I don't know how we're gonna do it, but we've just got to do it,'" McDowell said. "You can't make these cars go faster. I had a run that was building and there wasn't a gap and I made a gap. "I tore up both sides of the race car in the process of doing it and had to block some people, and probably upset a few people along the way, but this race is so important for us to make…" WATCH: Bayne involved in late wreck For Johnson, the win in the second Duel was a continuation of a week that couldn’t have gone better. "It's a special night," Johnson said. "What a race car. I'm stoked for my teammate (Dale Earnhardt Jr .) to win the first Duel. We won the second, and Jeff (Gordon) and I have the front row locked down. It's been an awesome week for all our Hendrick Motorsports cars. "I'm just happy to start out the week like we have." On Lap 57 of the second Duel, Patrick spun in Turn 3 after Hamlin made a move to her inside in very close quarters. "I mean, we're superspeedway racing," Hamlin said, after he and Patrick went their separate ways. "I treat her as equal as anyone on the race track. She deserves her spot here, but you have to be able to run close to somebody on a superspeedway. You have to have your car stable enough to handle those situations and, to me, it's not much different than what it was with the 22 (Joey Logano) and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) last week (in the Sprint Unlimited) - only I wasn't pushing her. "I was just close to her and her car got loose and she spun. Thank goodness she got her way in the 500. I didn't want to be responsible for that. I treat her as an equal on the race track. I'm not going to say, 'It's Danica, so I've got to make sure I just leave some extra room.' If you're out here in the Cup Series, you have to be able to handle those situations." MORE: See all the Paint Schemes for the Daytona 500 Patrick wasn't buying it. "I'm confident other cars get very close, and things like that don't happen," said Patrick, who finished 10th after Busch propelled her through the field. "Done thousands of miles of this speedway racing now, and I haven't found that to be a problem. So I just think that he's wrong. "I think that he's too close. I think that he's taking the air and getting it off the spoiler, and he's not squared up either. That's also part of the problem. I don't know. Maybe he likes my left rear." Notes: Ty Dillon qualified for his first Daytona 500, as did Ryan Blaney, who will pilot the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. … Six drivers failed to qualify: Ron Hornaday Jr ., Josh Wise, Jeb Burton, Justin Marks, Alex Bowman and Brian Scott. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Johnny Sauter, Ron Hornaday and Nelson Piquet Jr . get together in Turn 3 and draw the fourth caution of the night.