Mud Summer Classic Preview: Dirt Veterans Ready to Strikeby Kyle Pokrefky July 22, 2015 0 comments
NEW WESTON, Ohio — The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns for its third visit to Eldora Speedway for tonight’s 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic, a race that has quickly become one of the most prestigious races on the series calendar.
Being the lone national series race to not be raced on pavement, established dirt veterans have come out of the woodwork to enter themselves for tonight’s 150-lap race with names like Ken Schrader, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon and Christopher Bell listed for entry for today’s on-track action.
Austin Dillon returns to the Camping World Truck Series and Eldora as the inaugural Mud Summer Classic champion in NTS Motorsports’s No. 31 Chevrolet.
Of all drivers entered in the race who have competed in both races, Dillon has the best average finish at Eldora with a figure of 5.5 thanks to his win in 2013 and a 10th-place finish from last year.
Austin’s younger brother, Ty, will also return to the series in GMS Racing’s No. 33 Chevrolet with his sights set on his first career Eldora win. In two Eldora starts, the younger Dillon has a 16th-place finish from the inaugural running of the Classic and a fifth-place finish in last year’s running.
Both brothers feel at home on dirt. As Ty explains, both grew up on racing on pavement-less circuits.
“It’s what we grew up doing,” Ty stated. “It’s my family’s business at TDR (Team Dillon Racing), I’ve always said dirt is for racing on and asphalt is for getting you there. When Austin and I started racing when we were just teenagers, we would race 80-90 times per year in our late models.”
Another dirt veteran that’ll be gunning for his third career series victory is series regular Tyler Reddick, who seeks to both enter his name into the record books and gain ground on current points leader Matt Crafton.
Reddick has one previous start at Eldora coming last year when he wheeled his No. 19 Broken Bow Records Ford to an 11th-place finish for Brad Keselowski Racing. The 19-year-old out of Corning, Calif. has had his fair share of success at Eldora in the past, but a win in the Truck Series at the famed clay oval is something that Reddick has had his sights set on for awhile.
“I’ve really wanted to win a race at Eldora for a long time, more than any other track,” Reddick said. “And if that happens Wednesday night in the Draw-Tite Ford F-150 it would be really special.
“The trucks have less horsepower, more weight and use a hard asphalt tire. The vehicles react slower and it just takes patience to run well there. We ran really well early on in the race last year but when the track starts to dry up and slow down we need to make the right calls.”
Scheduled to make the third start of his Camping World Truck Series career is Bell, who will pilot the same Kyle Busch Motorsports’s No. 54 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota that Darrell Wallace Jr. drove to victory lane here one year ago.
Known as a dirt wunderkind, the 20-year-old ran at Eldora just last week in a sprint car and is hoping to use what he learned at the track last week to help him go for his first career Truck win.
“I think it definitely gives me an advantage,” Bell remarked. “The track record at Eldora in a sprint car is about 12.7 seconds, so to be running around there in sub 13-second laps and then go there in a truck where the quick time was a 19.9 last year, it’s much slower than the sprint cars ran.
“I think having run that fast there in a sprint car will definitely translate to running the truck there because it will slow everything down.”
As for the series regulars with asphalt backgrounds such as Crafton and Timothy Peters? They may be in a position to spoil the dirt ringers’ party.
Peters has an average finish of 11.0 at Eldora while Crafton, already a four-time race winner this season, has two top-10 finishes to his credit at the half-mile clay oval in Western Ohio.
Already proving his dominance this season on the mile-and-a-halves on the series calendar, the driver of the No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota acknowledges that Eldora provides a different kind of challenge for himself as the points leader. Even with his past success at the track, Crafton says that with the points lead in his possession – he enters Eldora planning to play defense.
“It’s different, definitely not the style of racing we are used to, but I know the fans love it,” Crafton said. “The track is constantly changing; it’s very slippery, slow paced, but it’s on the schedule and we just have to deal with it.
“I’ve run decent there, not great, but at the same time, we’ve always had to protect ourselves. Each and every week we can go to any track and lose a bunch of points, but Eldora is the unknown for sure.”
The 1-800-Car-Cash Mud Summer Classic will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 and MRN tonight at 7:00 p.m ET
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PHOTO CREDIT: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images