Speedway Digest Staff
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One down. Two to go.
Last night’s race at Eldora was an experience of a lifetime. It’s hard to put it into words what it feels like to win the first NASCAR national series dirt race in more than 40 years. But I’ll try: Amazing. Stunning. Unbelievable.
And fun. Rarely have I had that much fun racing. What a show! I hope the fans enjoyed watching it as much as I did driving it.
Now, it’s on to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’m going from one storied race track to another.
I can’t really remember how old I was when I first went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I think I was 6 or 7. But I definitely remember what happened when I got there.
I remember walking around the track on race day with Pop Pop [Richard Childress, Austin’s grandfather] and fans were dangling clipboards over the fence from fishing lines, asking for autographs.
Even as a little kid, I realized that NASCAR had some pretty intense fans. But, heck, I thought it was really cool! I remember Pop Pop turning to me and saying, "One day, you’re going to be doing this."
Maybe he was right. And maybe that day is Sunday, when I make my Brickyard debut in the Sprint Cup Series. I plan to walk that same area, and I’m going to think back to that day with my grandfather so many years ago. It’ll be pretty special.
On Sunday, I’ll be driving the No. 33 Mycogen Seeds Chevy, and you know what – I want to win.
That might seem like a lofty goal, but so what? I have nothing to lose. We’re going to go after it, and you never know. But we’ll also be smart. Fuel strategy can play a big role at Indianapolis, and if we play it just right, you might see us in Victory Lane. Talk about a dream come true.
While I might not have much experience at Indy, I know plenty of people who do. Two of my Richard Childress Racing teammates are Brickyard champions. I’m pretty close with Paul Menard, so I’ll definitely pick his brain for some tips. I was in Victory Lane with him when he won the Brickyard 400 in 2011, and it’s something I’ll never forget.
I haven’t called Kevin Harvick yet, but when I get to the track, I’ll hunt him down. Kevin’s outstanding at the Brickyard, of course. I wasn’t in Victory Lane when he won in 2003, but I was at the track. I was 13 years old when he "Kissed the Bricks," and probably cheered louder than anyone when he did it.
I’ll lean on those two guys a lot, but all the advice in the world doesn’t add up to actual seat time. I learned a good bit in last year’s Nationwide race, and will get another lesson in this Saturday’s Nationwide event. Hopefully that translates to a solid finish on Sunday.
It’s a great track. I’ve never been at a place that was so smooth but had so much grip in my life. The fans are going to be in for a real treat – the Gen-6 car is going to be really fast on Sunday.
Come Sunday, I will have run four races in eight days – including last night’s truck race at Eldora and last Sunday’s race at Chicagoland. Someone asked if I was afraid that I might be exhausted by the time the Indy Cup race rolled around. I looked at him funny, and said, "No man! I love this stuff. This is what I live for!"
Eldora by night? Indianapolis Motor Speedway by day? This is an historic week, and I get to take part in it. Seriously, does it get any better than that?
Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150, made his inaugural start at Eldora Speedway on Wednesday.
After qualifying and heat races concluded, determining where each driver would start in the lineup, Blaney was slated in the 23rd position as the 30 Truck field came to the green.
Blaney certainly had his work cut out for him starting near the rear, but he was able to manage through each of the three race segments to make up ground and better position him for the final run.
When the sixth and final caution fell on lap 148 for debris in turn four, it set up a green-white-checkered finish for the Cooper Standard team. Blaney was able to hold position and claim 15th in the inaugural Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway.
Since Wednesday night marked the third time Blaney had raced his father, Dave, on a dirt track and the first time in a NASCAR national series race, proud sponsor of the No. 29 BKR F-150, Cooper Standard, came out to watch the action.
The No. 29 BKR team currently sits eighth in the NCWTS driver points standings, 74 points back from first and just one point back from fifth.
"It was disappointing the way things fell out of our control with qualifying and ultimately putting us behind the eight ball early, but without overlooking the chance to race with my father in such a high profiled event, I'm happy we were able to gain from where we started the race. I am so proud of my team for all their hard work and I can't wait for Pocono next week in my Cooper Standard Ford." - Ryan Blaney
Dave Blaney, driver of the No. 19 Reese Towpower Ford F-150, made his inaugural start for Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' (NCWTS) dirt track debut during Wednesday night's CarCash Mudsummer Classic Presented by CNBC's Prime's the Profit at Eldora Speedway.
Blaney handled the early pressure well, by qualifying his Reese Towpower Ford F-150 in the sixth starting spot for the main event Wednesday night.
Blaney made his way up to third position by lap 10, gaining on the leaders each time by the start / finish line. On lap 47, Blaney came on the radio and said he was tight in and through the center, which prompted crew chief, Chad Kendrick, to start building out a pit road plan, knowing the first NASCAR mandatory caution would be on lap 60.
Blaney battled hard all night in the top five with a fast Reese Towpower Truck, but slipped to a ninth place finish at the inaugural Mudsummer Classic, because of being too loose in the latter stages of the race.
It was Blaney's third time running against his son, Ryan, and the first in a NASCAR national series. Primary sponsor, Reese Towpower, along with a sold out gathering of fans at Eldora speedway came out to watch history be made.
The No. 19 BKR team now sits 10th in the NCWTS owner points standings, 75 points back from first.
"What a cool experience to share with my son. My team was awesome; we had a fast Reese Towpower F-150 all night, but just got too loose late in the going. I love coming out to Eldora and racing here, it's a special place, but tonight was certainly one for the memory books. I really appreciate Brad Keselowski and Reese Towpower for giving me the opportunity to race for them." - Dave Blaney
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) made its first ever start on dirt at Eldora Speedway. The highly anticipated-event was held in front of a sold-out crowd on Wednesday evening at the 0.5-mile short track. Ryan Newman made his 2013 NCWTS debut in the No. 34 Oral-B/Aggressive Hydraulics/WIX Filters Chevrolet Silverado at the famed dirt track. After qualifying his way into the race and starting in the 10th position for the 150-lap feature, Newman finished third in the No. 34 Oral-B/Aggressive Hydraulics/WIX Filters Chevy at the inaugural Eldora Speedway race for Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM).
Two practice sessions were held on Tuesday, and Newman finished those sessions 11th and sixth, respectively. Final practice was held on Wednesday morning and Newman finished 16th. Practice was followed by traditional single-truck qualifying, which was used to set the fields for the five heat races. Newman qualified 15th, which put him third in the fifth qualifying heat race. Since Newman was not locked in on owner's points, he needed to finish ahead of the two other non-locked-in competitors in his heat race. After completing the eight-lap heat race, he finished second behind TSM teammate Jeb Burton, locking the No. 34 Oral-B/Aggressive Hydraulics/WIX Filters Chevrolet in the main event. By finishing second in his heat race, Newman earned the 10th-starting position for the Mudsummer Classic.
The main event consisted of three segments with pit stops scheduled between each segment. The first segment was scheduled for 60 laps. Newman started on the outside of row five, and worked his way up to the eighth position on lap five. Newman consistently worked his way through the field, and at lap 30, he passed veteran dirt racer Kenny Schrader for the fifth position. The first caution of the race came out at lap 55 with Newman in the sixth position. Newman radioed to crew chief Chris Carrier that it was really hard to pass without risking too much. Carrier called Newman down pit road for the first segment pit stop at lap 60. The No. 34 Oral-B/Aggressive Hydraulics/WIX Filters pit crew changed four Goodyear tires, filled the truck with Sunoco fuel and removed a spring rubber.
Newman restarted the second segment in the sixth position. On the first green-flag lap, Newman worked his way into the fourth position. The second caution of the evening came out at lap 89 for debris in Turn 3. Newman relayed to Carrier that his No. 34 Oral-B/Aggressive Hydraulics/WIX Filters Chevy was just a little tight, but pretty good overall. Newman restarted in the fourth position on lap 97 and battled side-by-side with TSM teammate and dirt-track ace Kyle Larson for the second position. After several laps of exciting racing, Newman settled into the third position on lap 102. Newman maintained the third position until the end of the second segment. Newman relayed to Carrier over the radio to remove a spring rubber from the left rear and he would "let 'er eat." The No. 34 Oral-B/Aggressive Hydraulics/WIX Filters pit crew made the adjustment, changed four tires and added fuel in preparation for the final segment.
Newman restarted in the third position, for the final segment of the Mudsummer Classic. He was in the fourth position when the fourth caution of the race came out at lap 114 for an accident in Turn 2. When the green flag flew at lap 125, Newman quickly moved up to second and maintained the position until the fifth caution came out at lap 139. Newman restarted second on lap 145 and the green flag was only displayed for two laps before the sixth caution came out at lap 147, with Newman in the fourth position. The late-race caution set up NASCAR's version of overtime with the first attempt at a green/white/checkered finish. On lap 151, Newman restarted in the fourth position and battled with TSM teammate Kyle Larson on the final lap for the second position, ultimately bringing his No. 34 Oral-B/Aggressive Hydraulics/WIX Filters Chevrolet home in third.
"We had a great Oral-B/Aggressive Hydraulics/WIX Filters Chevy Silverado all day," said Newman. "I had a lot of fun tonight at Eldora Speedway. It was a special evening to be part of the inaugural race and to finish third. My truck was really good on the long runs, but we had a couple of cautions there at the end which didn't play into our favor. I can't thank everyone at Turner Scott Motorsports enough. They prepared a great truck, and I had a fun time this week."
In its first time on dirt in 43 years, NASCAR and the Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) hit historic Eldora Speedway for some high action, mud-slinging fun. With several of his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) teammates having dirt-racing backgrounds, Jeb Burton looked to them for advice on mastering the unfamiliar 0.5-mile oval track. Making his dirt debut during Wednesday night's Inaugural Mudummer Classic, Burton and the No. 4 Arrowhead team aimed for consistency, patience and teamwork to get them through the wild event. The truck had decent speeds throughout practice sessions and Burton proved himself when he landed among the top-5 in qualifying. After wining his heat race, the No. 4 started the main event from the front and ran solid laps throughout the race. Despite suffering damage towards the end of the race, Burton and the No. 4 team walked away with a top-20 finish at their dirt track debut.
Early on, Burton used the practice sessions to gain familiarity and comfort with the slick track. With emotions high, the No. 4 team made multiple adjustments and ran a total of 195 practice laps in hopes of finding the perfect line to run for Wednesday night's race. Throughout the two-day event, the No. 4 crew chief, Mike Hillman Jr., stressed to Burton and his team that they would all learn together. Their hard work and patience paid off when Burton's Arrowhead Chevy qualified fifth fastest at Eldora Speedway, making him the fastest-qualifying rookie.
Starting first in the fifth and final qualifying heat race, the dirt-track rookie managed to lead all eight laps, placing the No. 4 truck on the third row of the starting grid for the final event. Burton told the No. 4 crew, "If you would've told me that we were going to come out here and win a heat race, I would've said you were crazy!" As the green flag dropped on the first segment of the Mudsummer Classic, a still shocked and happy Burton stayed high on the track and reported that the truck felt solid until it made contact with the wall just before the first caution came out. Taking the field into the first segment break, the No. 4 team repaired minimal damage to the right rear tire.
In the second segment, Burton was quick to report that he felt good and was finally getting the hang of the dirt. "You've got plenty of time," Hillman Jr. told Burton, "Stay patient out there." Running in 17th position as the second segment break approached, the No. 4 pitted for fuel, four tires and damage repair. As the green flag dropped on the final segment, Burton was unable to avoid a wreck and received significant damage to the nose of the truck. Remaining on the track under caution, Hillman Jr. and spotter Kevin Hamlin assured Burton that the damage did not affect his left-frontwheel.
With less than ten laps to go, two more cautions arose, forcing the field to race to an exciting green/white/checkered finish. Ending the historic night in 18th position, Burton and the No. 4 team were happy to cross the finish line in once piece and satisfied with their dirt debut.
"This has got to be the wildest, craziest thing I've ever done," said Burton. "There were a lot of ups and downs over the past two days, but qualifying well and winning a heat race just goes to show you that the No. 4 team can do anything we work towards."
Maintaining second in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings, Burton is looking forward to getting back to pavement racing. Next, the NCWTS will head to Pocono Raceway for some racing at the Tricky Triangle. The Pocono Mountains 125 will air live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. EDT on August 3.
Kyle Larson entered the inaugural Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway as a favorite to win after sweeping the Four Car Nationals at the 0.5-mile dirt track in 2011 and earning a win in his only other NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start this season. Larson did not disappoint, laying down the fastest time in the first practice session. He lined up fifth in the third heat race and finished third, putting him 13th on the starting grid for the main event. Larson immediately began working his way to the front, taking over the top spot on lap 39. The 20-year-old led 51 laps but came up just short at Eldora, finishing in the second position.
Larson was fast right off the bat in the No. 30 Clorox Chevy, laying down the fastest time of the entire weekend in his ninth lap of first practice. He went on to collect the third-best time in second practice and the ninth-quickest time in final practice. Larson went out last in qualifying, and qualified 23rd on the very slick track. He lined up fifth in the third heat, needing to beat the No. 5 and No. 68 machines, which lined up second and third, respectively, to earn a spot in the 150-lap feature race. Larson was able to do just that, finishing third in his heat, and setting himself up to start 13th in the main event.
When the green flag dropped for the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, Larson began to gain spots immediately, entering the top 10 on lap 3. He continued to pass trucks, moving into the top five on lap 16. He steadily gained positions, and began to stalk the leaders from his third position on lap 20. Despite encountering lapped traffic, the young driver moved into second on lap 35 and took over the top position four laps later. Once in the lead, Larson began to put distance between himself and the rest of the field and radioed to his Clorox team that his Silverado was getting too tight. 10 laps after taking the lead, Larson had built a 3.5-second lead over the second-place truck.
The caution flag was displayed for the first time on lap 55, and Larson asked for more stagger to roll the corner. Crew chief Trent Owens called his driver into the pits under the first segment break at lap 60. The No. 30 Clorox team changed four tires, added fuel and made an adjustment to free up their truck. Larson also asked the team to throw his right rear tire up on the hood so that he could check his tire wear.
On lap 61, Larson restarted in the first position and began to build his lead again, telling his team on lap 75 that he started out too loose after the stop but that his truck had really started to come to him. Larson started encountering heavy lapped traffic a few laps later, and was battling to keep the top spot when the caution flag waved for debris on lap 89. Larson restarted in second on lap 97 and fell to third when the outside line got going quickly. He moved back into second on lap 102 and remained there until the second segment break. Larson again came in to pit for four tires and fuel, restarting in second on lap 113.
The caution was again displayed on lap 115 and Larson restarted in second on lap 124. Again the outside line was the preferred lane, and Larson fell to third. He stayed right with the leaders, and as he took over the top spot again, the caution flag was displayed for debris. The last scoring loop had Larson in second, so he restarted there on lap 146. The final caution waved on lap 148, setting the field up for a green/white/checkered finish. Larson maintained his position on the restart, despite being on the inside line, and finished in the second position.
"I know second is a good finish, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed," explained Larson. "This is one win that I really, really wanted. I've got to thank my Clorox team for all the hard work over the past few days. They gave me a great truck. I just overdrove one corner and got into a lapped car, allowing Austin [Dillon] to get by me. Then I kept having to restart on the bottom, and I just didn't have enough time to get back by him. I think if we would have had a few more caution-free laps at the end, we could have gotten the win."
Larson returns to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he will compete in the No. 32 Cessna Chevrolet Camaro. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN, with coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. EDT.
Things got a little bit dirty as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) made its debut at the legendary Eldora Speedway. After a strong qualifying run and an extremely competitive heat race, Paludo fought his way back from a lap down to finish 21st in the first ever NCWTS race on dirt.
In the first dirt race of his career, Paludo utilized the event's three extended practice sessions to experiment with his No. 32 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet and learn as much as he could about the 0.5-mile Eldora Speedway. A seventh-place qualifying run put Paludo on the outside pole in an early heat race. Battling hard, Paludo finished third in his heat, putting him 12th on the grid for the inaugural Mudsummer Classic.
After taking the green flag, Paludo felt out the handling of his AccuDoc Solutions Silverado, determining that his truck was extremely free off. Sideways in both ends as the track transitioned from day to night, the Brazilian dropped to 21st before the first caution flag of the race waved on lap 55. With NASCAR mandating that all teams pit, crew chief Jeff Hensley provided his driver with four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Given that the field was frozen by the yellow, Paludo went back to the track still in the 21st spot.
Having been passed by the leaders shortly before the caution, Paludo was now one lap down and the second truck in line for NASCAR's free pass. After the green flag waved, Paludo advanced one position and relayed to the team that his truck was now really good and that he was moving around to find grip on the track. Paludo was 23rd when the caution flag waved on lap 112 for the second segment break of the evening. Although he had worked his way into the free pass position, right before the yellow flag waved, the leader put another truck one lap down, and Paludo once again was the second truck in line for the free pass. Paludo radioed his team that his truck had really come to him on the last green-flag run, calling it "perfect."
Hensley called for a four-tire stop without chassis adjustments, pulling a tearoff and pulling out a battered left-front fender. Paludo returned to his spot for the green flag on lap 113, but it was only three laps later when the caution flag waved again for a multi-truck wreck. Once again denied the lucky dog position, Paludo was still scored in 23rd and unable to make any passes, as he was now the first truck on his lap, despite the fact that his truck's handling was now quite good.
Paludo restarted 21st on lap 125, and could only hold his position until the yellow flag waved for debris on lap 121. Now the beneficiary of the free pass, Paludo was back on the lead lap, but at the tail end with several trucks multiple laps down in front of him. Paludo had just worked his way up to the trucks he could pass for position when the final yellow flag of the night waved on lap 149, setting up the field for a green/white/checkered finish. When the green flag waved for two laps of overtime racing, Paludo fought hard, but was unable to make up any ground, ultimately crossing the finish line 21st.
"This place was a real challenge, but it was a lot of fun," said Paludo, covered in dirt after the race. "No one totally knew what to expect coming in here, so we learned a lot in the process that we can take back with us. We certainly didn't want to finish like we did, but I look at it like Rockingham [Speedway] last year; we struggled the first time and a year later we were awesome there. If we ever wind up running a race like this again, I know that we will come back and be extremely competitive."
The NCWTS next heads to Pocono Raceway on Saturday, August 3. The Pocono Mountains 125 will air live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. EDT.
For the first time in 43 years, NASCAR made their historic return to the dirt surface at Eldora Speedway for the Mudsummer Classic. With a unique event on tap, which included heat races, a last chance qualifying race and a three-segment feature, James Buescher and the Rheem team came into Eldora not knowing what to expect with next-to-no experience racing on dirt. After nearly five and half hours of practice, Buescher started to get accustomed to the style of racing and was ready for the 150-lap main event. Buescher was locked into the main event and started ninth after finishing second in his heat race. When the green flag flew for the feature event, Buescher paced himself in the early going while he looked to get into a groove. During the last segment, the 30-truck field started to get antsy. Buescher sustained some damage to his Rheem Silverado, but was able to bring home the No. 31 in the 19th spot, despite his handling beginning to fade slightly.
After having a difficult time in the first two practice sessions, Buescher showed he was starting to get the hang of racing on dirt when he placed fifth in final practice. With a different race format for this inaugural event, NASCAR implemented heat races with the lineups being set by qualifying results. Buescher took his two laps around the slick 0.5-mile dirt oval and placed the Rheem team in the 19th spot, setting them up for a fourth-starting spot in the fourth eight-lap heat. Buescher was able to quickly jump into the second spot, and came up just short after making a last-lap bid for the win. With this second-place result, Buescher started the Mudsummer Classic in the ninth-starting spot.
The Mudsummer Classic consisted of three segments, broken into 60 laps, 50 laps and 40 laps, with a quick break in between each to allow the crews to make adjustments to their trucks. When the green flag waved over the 30-truck field, Buescher quickly worked his way to the preferred top groove and tried to find a rhythm. With just one yellow being displayed just shy of the 60-lap break, Buescher was able to challenge for a top-10 running position during the first segment while getting a good read on his Rheem Chevy. Crew chief Michael Shelton called for four fresh tires, fuel, and chassis adjustments to help with Buescher's loose condition exiting the corner.
During the second segment, Buescher once again worked to get to the top groove and tried to find his way inside the top 10. Buescher reported back on lap 87 that his Rheem Silverado was still too loose exiting the corner and was lacking forward drive. Shelton again took this into account for their final pit stop on lap 110. Pitting with the leaders, Buescher took four tires, fuel and his No. 31 Rheem team reversed some of the changes from the first stop.
For the final 40-lap segment, Buescher restarted in the 15th spot and quickly made a bid to the bottom of the track into Turn 1. Buescher forced a four-wide pass, gaining four spots. Just a couple laps later, the field started to get antsy and Buescher had a near miss on the back straightaway, forcing him to scramble to avoid the spinning trucks. Buescher did sustain some damage to his No. 31 Rheem truck, but it was not enough to force him to pit. Buescher did all he could in the remaining laps to try to hold on to a solid finish, but lost a couple spots on the green/white/checkered attempt, relinquishing him to a 19th-place finish in NASCAR's return to the dirt at Eldora Speedway.
"I'm glad to say I was a part of such a historic event for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series," said Buescher. "My Rheem team came in with little dirt experience and it kind of showed early in the practice sessions, but by the time final practice rolled around, we were able to make gains and get comfortable with this style of racing. I feel like we had a better truck than what shows in our result, we just didn't have enough grip on the last restart to advance any further. We're looking forward to getting out to Pocono and getting our championship run back on track."
Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the Pocono Mountains 125 at Pocono Raceway. The race can be seen live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. EDT on August 3. It can also be heard on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90 or MRN Radio.
John Wes Townley and his No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra earned the 24th qualifying spot which placed him in heat No. 4 lining up fifth. Townley found his groove around the half-mile clay track and finished his heat race in the sixth position, starting the 150-lap main feature in the 24th position. Immediately, Townley maneuvered his way into the 22nd position. The Zaxby's driver reported lacking overall grip and would need an adjustment after the first segment completed. NASCAR confirmed the Lap 54 caution would serve as the end of the first segment bringing teams in for their first pit stop.
German Quiroga and his No. 77 OtterBox Toyota Tundra team faced a new type of surface as they qualified 35th and lined up seventh in the fifth and final heat. Quiroga was able to collect two positions and finish the eight lap heat in fifth. His finish moved him to the 25th starting position for the 150-lap main. Trying to figure out which line fit him best, Quiroga nestled into the 26th position for most of the first segment. When the caution was displayed at lap 54, Quiroga was scored 27th and looking for more grip on the bottom grove.
The OtterBox driver reported needing an adjustment on his Tundra with 17 laps remaining in the second segment. Quiroga picked up five positions and was scored 22nd when the field was brought to pit road for the final stop. The team made an air pressure adjustment and he was off. It was lap 120 when Quiroga moved into the 20th position continue to fight for position. When the checkered flag waived, it was a 20th-place finish for the No. 77 OtterBox team at Eldora Speedway. The team picked up two positions in the point standings, now 14th.
Germán Quiroga talks about his race at Eldora Speedway:
"Our qualifying position really put us behind at the start. My limited dirt experience did not help me with our heat race. We had a really difficult time passing and we were as good as anybody else. The OtterBox Toyota Tundra is fast and we have proven that, so I know we will make a turn-around next weekend at Pocono."