For the first time in nearly 43 years, a NASCAR national touring series race will be contested on a dirt track.
The Camping World Truck Series will race on Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway, a half-mile dirt oval owned by three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. Eldora has hosted some of the largest dirt racing events in the country, including the Prelude to the Dream, Dirt Late Model Dream, Kings Royal and World 100. The last time a NASCAR national series event ran on dirt was on Sept. 30, 1970. Richard Petty won the Home State 200 at the one-mile State Fairgrounds Speedway in Raleigh, N.C.
Eldora will have a much different race and qualifying format than any other event in the 19-year history of the Truck Series. Following a traditional two- lap qualifying session, five eight-lap qualifying races and then a 15-lap "last chance" race will set the 30-truck starting field. The top-20 in owner points are guaranteed a starting spot. The 150-lap, 75-mile race is broken down in three segments of 60, 50 and 40 laps.
Thirty-five truck teams practiced on Tuesday at Eldora. Kyle Larson, a rookie in the Nationwide Series this season, posted the quickest lap overall during the two practice sessions at 91.626 mph. Larson has had plenty of racing experience at Eldora, winning numerous USAC events there.
"I think it's going to be a really exciting race," Larson said. "I was actually able to throw a slide-job on another truck going into (turn) 1 and complete the pass. I think you can get some passing done. If you have to start a few rows back, you'll still have a shot to win."
Dave Blaney, a Sprint Cup Series regular, was second in practice at 90.653 mph, followed by his 19-year-old son Ryan Blaney. The father-son duo are driving Fords fielded by Brad Keselowski Racing.
"It's going to be a fun race," Dave Blaney said. "It just depends a little bit on how well the track goes and how clean it gets and things like that. You can run them right up next to the wall and not feel out of control and move around the racetrack."
While Dave and Ryan Blaney face off for the first time in a NASCAR national series event, brothers Austin and Ty Dillon will compete against each other in trucks again. Austin Dillon has not raced in the series since he won the 2011 championship.
"I'll tell you what, this is so much fun, because you throw springs, sway bars, everything, and you just go after it and see what you can do," Austin Dillon said. "I feel like it's really old-school racing."
Austin Dillon was fourth fastest in afternoon practice. He led the way in the evening session, while his younger brother, Ty, was second.
Ryan Newman, who drives for Stewart-Haas Racing in Sprint Cup, is scheduled to compete in this event, driving the No. 34 Chevrolet for Turner Scott Motorsports.
Several drivers are making their truck debuts at Eldora, including 49-year-old Scott Bloomquist, who is behind the wheel of the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Bloomquist has scored over 500 dirt late model victories in more than 1,400 career starts.
"We are going to win the (truck) race," Bloomquist said. "I've driven a lot of race cars. Never a truck but it's still a race car."
Matt Crafton enters this race with a comfortable 38-point lead over rookie Jeb Burton. James Buescher, the defending series champion, is third in the standings (-40).
Series: NASCAR Camping World. Date: Wednesday, July 24. Race: The CarCash Mudsummer Classic. Site: Eldora Speedway. Track: 0.5-mile dirt oval. Start time: 9:35 p.m. ET. Laps: 150. Miles: 75. Television: Speed. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.