Hornaday held off the late-race charges of runner-up and polesitter Austin Dillon during the final 10 laps. Dillon, who protected his lead in the series points standings, pulled to within two-tenths of a second of Hornaday but could get no closer.
The air temperature at the start of the race was 48 degrees, and the track temperature was 53 degrees.
Hornaday led the final 11 of 150 laps on the 1.5-mile speedway after leader Todd Bodine pitted. The key to Hornaday’s win came on his last pit stop for four tires and fuel. Hornaday led four times for 42 laps.
Hornaday talked more about his 50 wins than his late-race duel with Dillon, a 21-year-old in his second full season in the series.
“It will mean a lot when I sit on the front porch in the rocking chair with my grandkids and I can tell them that I won 50 races,” Hornaday said. “Austin is an up-and-coming star, and at age 53, I beat him.”
Hornaday has three wins at Kentucky Speedway. His first career truck win came at Tucson (Ariz.) Raceway Park on April 8, 1995—the same month Dillon turned 5.
Dillon tried to catch Hornaday over the final 15 miles but finished 0.438 seconds back.
“We gave ’em hell at the end, but the old man whipped my tail,” Dillon said. “I gave it everything I had on those last laps.”
Dillon extended his lead in the standings to three points over third-place finisher James Buescher with five races remaining.
“We took on right-side tires on the last two green-flag stops, but it wasn’t good enough to hold off 2 (Hornaday) and 3 (Dillon),” Buescher said. “It was a good points night.”
There were a track-record 18 lead changes among 11 drivers.
Rookie Nelson Piquet Jr. and Brian Ickler in Kyle Busch’s Toyota rounded out the top five.
Ty Dillon, Austin’s younger brother, finished 18th in his first NASCAR national series race.
“It was awesome, a blast,” Ty Dillon said. “We actually ran out of gas twice. We came here to learn, and I felt like they all knew we were here.”
Rounding out the top 10 were Ricky Carmichael, Bodine, rookie Cole Whitt, Dakoda Armstrong and David Starr.
The next race in the series is Oct. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, also a 1.5-mile track.