After a successful season beginning with Sunset Speedway in May to Peterborough Speedway in October, Cory Horner was crowned the 2018 OSCAAR Modified Champion.
“Winning a championship is something I have wanted to do for a long time, so to finally win one doing it in an OSCAAR Modified is an amazing feeling,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “As a team, we put in a lot of effort and hard work each and every week to try and be the best, so to have that pay off is something I will never forget. Now that I have gotten the chance to win one championship, it has made me more eager to get back to the track in 2019 to try and do it again and defend the title.”
The season was filled with memorable moments, as Horner visited feature victory lane on two different occasions, along with 11 heat wins.
“Picking up the hat trick at Peterborough (Speedway) and winning at a track I consider home with all my family and friends there to watch is one I will remember for a long time,” he commented. “But if I had to choose, I would say getting the hat trick at Sunset would be my most memorable moment as I have been trying for many years in many divisions to get a feature win there. So to finally get my first ever win there and win it in an OSCAAR modified felt amazing.”
Outside of the wins, Horner was consistent, finishing no worse than eighth, to give him a streak of no finishes outside of the top-10 in his past 22 series starts.
“Being consistent in racing is not easy as every top team would know it all starts at home in the shop,” he said. “To be consistent, we spend countless hours and many late nights in the shop prepping the car for each and every weekend. I am very fortunate to have a lot of help as it takes a team effort and without people like my cousin Daryl, who spends every hour with me in the shop and every weekend at the track, and my dad who hauls me there every weekend, my uncle Andy who helps me with the setup of the car. and my uncle Dave who helps with last minute repairs that we do not have the tools to do – none of this would be possible. Being a low budget team at times can also be tough, but with the financial help I get from family and sponsors like Custom Forming, Bonsma Brothers Concrete Pumping and SCI Contractors, it makes it a lot easier to make it to every race.”
Even with consistency on a weekly basis, the championship came down to the final event at Autumn Colours Classic with him and fellow competitor John Harper within points of each other. The Classic also didn’t go smoothly for Horner, as he was sent to the back after being involved in a mid-race incident. While the championship was important, Horner said a victory was on the mind as it’s on his career must-win list – even while counting the positions between the pair to make sure he get the title.
“When I got spun mid-race, I thought I had let it slip away,” he admits. “But in realizing how many laps were left and knowing I still had a fast car, that if I remained calm, there was plenty of laps left to get back to the front. I got a little worried late in the race when I got behind Harper on a restart and seen that he was going to try and take the green on a left rear flat. I came across the radio to my spotter that I was worried that he would spin and take us out. So when he pulled off to change the tire, it was a big relief.
“Once Harper pulled off and I got into second, I felt the championship was secured and wanted to focus more on the win, but in the back of my mind I kept telling myself not to make any mistakes that would send me to the back and risk losing the championship. In the end, we came close to achieving both the win and the championship but were not quite fast enough and settled for second.”
The success this year comes after dedication to the modified season, as Horner has been one of the faces to grace the field every week over the past four years. While noticing that some drivers have come and left the tour, he says the spike in car count for 2017 was amazing to see.
“It has brought on a lot more competition with at least seven to ten drivers capable of winning every weekend,” he added. “It is getting harder and harder to win races and has helped us to put on some great shows for the fans.”
While the success is nice and there will be time to reflect, the focus has already began shifting to 2019.
“Although 2018 was a very successful season for us as a team picking up 11 heat wins and 2 feature wins and getting my first ever championship, we are always looking to improve our weekly program,” he commented. “One of my main goals for 2019 would definitely be to win more feature events but as well to work on the consistency of the car an make it faster each and every week.”
He says getting faster each week will take improving the set-up of the car through practice, so therefore he can be even stronger through the qualifying races.
“One thing I have realized over the years is that winning a championship is not just about feature finishes. but how you do in the heat races as well,” he said.