Ron Hornaday didn't have the best truck Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but he had the best fuel strategy. And in the end, that's all that mattered.
Hornaday led the final 17 laps – the only laps he led all night – to win the Good Sam Club 200 NASCAR Camping World 200.
"See that trophy? We stole it tonight, but I'll take it," Hornaday said.
Hornaday inherited the lead on lap 114, when the last of the night's top three cars pitted. Clint Bowyer dominated the action until that point, leading three times for 97 laps. Kyle Busch was running in second and
Ryan Newman third until fuel strategy came into play late in the race.
"The 2 truck was definitely the best truck of the night," Busch said. "It's good to see these guys sucker one away from them."
It was Hornaday's 49th career victory and his second at Atlanta Motor Speedway. And it was anything but assured after the way Hornaday's race started. Early on, he ran into the back of another truck during a restart, but the crew made repairs and sent Hornaday out primed for his late-race takeover.
"It was really pretty easy because after what happened at the start, it was the only chance we had," said crew chief Jeff Hensley. "When the caution came out we came down pit road. I knew we could make it on fuel. We were OK. We just got lucky. Lucky and a little bit of planning too."
Blake Feese had a similar stroke of luck after smacking the wall early on. His crew heavily taped the mangled right front panel of his truck and helped him climb all the way to second until Bowyer and Busch passed him on the final lap, relegating the young driver to fourth.
"I never thought we'd finish at all when I hit the wall; I thought I ended our night, but these guys fixed it," Feese said. "We were good on fuel (at the end of the race) so we stayed out, but they had new tires, so (fourth is) all we had."
Ryan Newman, racing in honor of his good friend Beau Slocumb – who succumbed to cancer in April – brought home the No. 08 tribute paint scheme in fifth place in front of a crowd of Slocumb's friends and family.
"We didn't get the victory that we wanted, but a top-five, that's all we had tonight," Newman said. "We had probably a third-place truck; a couple guys got us on fuel.
"(Tonight) my mind wandered a couple times. (Beau) would have had fun, been smiling, just like me. Probably thinking about where he could put up a tree stand tomorrow."
Points leader Johnny Sauter had a hard night, cutting down two tires in the span of a few laps due to a fender rub. That allowed James Buescher to take over the points lead by 12.
Racing action continues with Saturday's Great Clips 300 Nationwide Series race and Sunday's AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Seats are still available by calling the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at 877-9-AMS-TIX (877-926-7849), 770-946-4211 or by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.