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January 19, 2018

Wayne Auton

Kevin Harvick

Ron Hornaday, Jr.

Charlotte, North Carolina

KEVIN HARVICK: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series can be unforgiving. Trucks bump and bang, drivers refuse to give an inch. It takes skill to win, sure, but more so, it takes heart. So it is perfect that this man is the first Truck Series legend to reach NASCAR's pinnacle. He displayed the heart of a champion for years on and off the track, and now after a record‑breaking career, the long road ends appropriately in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
(Video shown.)
WAYNE AUTON: It's only fitting we're here tonight to see this guy get in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. 51 wins, a record. Four championships, a record. And now the first Truck Series driver into the Hall of Fame. Nobody can take that one away from you.
You know, in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, we have a motto that says, "Where Names Are Made". This guy right here made a name for himself, Ron Hornaday, and it's forever now etched into the walls of this great hall. More than being in a Hall of Fame, you really need to be in a Hall of Fame of people because of the way you care for everybody. You let people sleep on your couch that you didn't even know, and look where they're at today, and now you are in the Hall of Fame. Instead of Ron Hornaday, champion, you're now Ron Hornaday, NASCAR Hall of Famer. And it's been an honor to get to see all those records you've broken, but it's more of an honor to call you a friend, and now it's my honor on this 19th day of January, 2018, to present the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee ring and officially induct Ron Hornaday Jr. into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
RON HORNADAY JR.: That's cool. Wayne, thank you. Spent many a day behind the closed doors. Kevin, from the kid from Bakersfield to champion and now a dad, man, you've really grown up a lot sleeping on that couch, drinking all them Coors Lights with me. I had a speech going, and first of all, all I'm going to say it's such an honor to be the 2018 Hall of Fame, especially with the class I've got.
Everybody says, you know, just‑‑ first of all, I started two nights, can't sleep. Sitting up here trying to think what you're going to say to anybody, and it's the toughest thing you'd ever say. And everybody would just say just be yourself, it's easy. It's the frigging Hall of Fame, guys. It's the toughest thing you've ever done. I don't know where to start to begin. All I know is I've got to thank my wife Lindy, both the kids. I've gotta apologize to both my kids for missing half their sports, what they've done when they were growing up, just to let my dreams come true. Thank you, both of you, for the wonderful grandkids you gave me, all five of them, and thank you for everything you guys have done to support me. I know I'm getting raspy, but it's from the bottom of my heart. Each and every one of you all out there has become a friend, and I wouldn't count you as a friend because I think you're all family because it takes each and every one of you guys to put a race car together, to polish the floors, to answer the phones, to everything. But it took a wife like mine, Lindy, when I married her in 1979, she says, quit working on everybody's race car, build your own race car. So what kind of wife do you got right there, telling you to build your own race car. Lindy, I love you to death. You kind of heard most of the story up there, but I'm going to hit some brief points of it, of just the first couple of years of running out there on the fairgrounds and it's definitely a long way from there, and it just snowballed over to the 1991 championship going down to the last race, exhaust pipe comes through the windshield, Rick Carelli and I are battling tooth and nail. My year was done. Lindy and I just started crying, saying that was every penny we've ever had. We're never going to go for another championship. Lo and behold Rick Carelli blows a tire on the last lap, Darrell Waltrip, he probably went around the thing, I think Darrell Waltrip won it, and, hell, those guys got me out in the last five laps of the race and I stopped about 20 feet from the start‑finish line. Now the guys were just saying, go push it, push it, so I push it across the line and I say what is that for? Did we win the championship? They said we won the championship no matter what but we never got a DNF so I wanted to see if you could push it. But nobody knew that we had no shifter in the car and it was stuck in the gear and we burned the clutch out of it. That was one of the moments, and the next year we said we're not going to do this again, it just took so much time.
But in the middle of that whole thing, we had Palmdale Chiropractor on the car and I looked at Bob Fisher and I said why are you sponsoring our race car. You know, we travel to Eureka. We go to Bakersfield where your hours away from your business, how could you sit there and waste your money and your time, because nobody is going to come get their back cracked, and he says, Ron, some day you make it to Daytona, I want two tickets there. The day that Dale Earnhardt said I'm going to Daytona, Bob and Anita Fisher got the tickets to go to Daytona and a hotel room. It's just one of the stories, and that was the easy part was going through‑‑ but second year, 1992 championship, how we won two or three races, etcetera, that's the way, we started to buy tires. It went on to the Winter Heat. It went on television with ESPN, Ken Squier, everybody, just talking about it, and got the eyes of Dale Earnhardt and got that phone call. He said, hey, you want to drive my truck and I said I'd love to. So I got that opportunity to do that and he said, well, I'm going to send you a plane ticket, need you tomorrow. I said, I can't, I'm racing this weekend at Tucson, we've got the last race. He said, you want to drive for me or do you want to race that weekend.
I said, well Steve Nestral, Sammy Gonzales, a lot of great friends, both lost them to cancer, and I wish they were here with us because they're dear to my heart.
We started racing for Dale. We got that phone call. You guys didn't hear the story about everybody hanging up on him. Thought it was layer Larry (inaudible), Hey this is Richard Petty, is Ron Hornaday there? Well they kept saying it was Dale Earnhardt, so they kept hanging up. They said it's no way it's Dale, so they hung up the phone three or four times. So finally we hooked up, long story short, raced for Dale. If it wasn't for NAPA coming on board, Dale told NAPA we're going to win some championships if you come aboard. Thank you NAPA, thank you to everybody involved with the NAPA team. It's been unbelievable.
Fast forward, Kevin, Delana, Mr.Childress, a lot of great races, won a lot of races with you in Nationwide, did a lot of ride hopping, Dave Carroll, you need it, Mr.Hendrick, didn't have a job, gave me Ricky's truck to run Daytona all through the thing. All of a sudden, Kevin Harvick calls me and says, what are you doing? I said nothing. He said you got a job next year? I said I'm looking. I'm talking with Joe Custer right now. I might be running Nationwide. He said you come drive my truck for me. I said, you've got a truck team? OK, cool. Him and his dad came down and we went out to dinner or lunch of wherever we went. Probably had a beer somewhere. All's I know we were all done and said it was on a napkin, and I thought wow, that's cool. I went home and told to Lindy. I had to go talk to Fred, and anybody who knows Fred for Kevin Harvick, there wasn't nothing written on the same napkin that wasn't on that same contract. But those Winter Heat days with the Scary Johnson selling my Fluidyne race car for $52,000 so we buy our first house down in Lake Norman, sleeping on‑‑ I'm not the one that started this whole deal with people sleeping on their couches. I got to sleep with Doug and Robin Richards for the first year, me moving down to North Carolina, so thank you Doug, Robin. I learned a lot about cats and dogs living at your house.
I can sit up here and go on, but a great year with Kevin, Delana. They rejuvenated my career, Joe Denette, won the lottery, sponsored me, unbelievable. My last diecast in a truck is Joe Denette. Pretty cool. Thank you, everybody. This is‑‑ for every short track racer that ever had a dream, ever had a heart, ever believed in anything that you can believe in, this is it. Hall of Fame, and what a class I'm in with. Ray, everybody, thank you for so much. And I know I missed everybody. Family, love everybody. Thank you. God bless. Hold on. NASCAR, thank you all for Japan, Mexico, Canada, you name it, we went there. The only one I want to thank you for is Mr.Childress and I and a lot of other drivers went to Iraq and seen what our troops do for us, and we can't say enough for what they do, so my hats off to our military. Praying for all of you. Goodnight.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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