There was plenty of dirt to be had last night in Rossburg, Ohio home of Eldora Speedway. Last night Eldora Speedway hosted the Prelude to the Dream. Once again I ponied up the money to watch this event on pay-per-view since I wasn’t able to make the trek up to Ohio. Last year’s event was a blast to watch so I was expecting it to be the same this year and it didn’t disappoint.
Several of your NASCAR favorites were there (sorry Junior Nation, Junior wasn’t one of those in attedance). You had the likes of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, along with Red Farmer, and two drivers from the NHRA , Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps willing to step out of their prospective comfort zones to spend time getin’ all “dirtied” up for a worthy cause. The proceeds were to benefit the Tony Stewart Foundation who regularly donates to the Victory Junction Gang camp. This year Tony wanted to raise $1 million to kick start the 2nd Victory Junction Gang camp that will be located in the Kansas City area.
Now on to the festivities…
I consider myself to a well informed blogger, but sometimes I just know things. First we had a qualifying session where Dave Blaney beat out everyone for the pole and set a new track record at 15.436 seconds beating the old record held by none other than track owner Tony Stewart. I don’t know what this was for to be honest. I am going to assume it was to set the order for the three qualifying heats or the feature main. I really don’t know. So if any of my regular readers know, please explain. Anyhow, once qualifying was over, there were three qualifying heats. The top three transferred into the feature main, but I think everyone that was invited to the Prelude was in the race. I was so confused by it all. But even so there was quite a bit of racing…and not just driving around in a circle.
The first heat was the most action packed with JJ Yeley spinning and collecting Mark Martin and Aric Armirola. Unfortunately that was all the racing Mark would be able to do. They were unable to repair his car and get him back for the feature main. The winner of the first heat was Clint Bowyer which is no surprise here. He owns his own dirt track team and in fact owned the car Jimmie JOhnson was driving last night. The second heat had what I called some of the heavy hitters. Heat 2 lineup: Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kenny Wallace, Bill Elliott, Cruz Pederegon, Kasey Kahne. As no suprise to anyone, certainly not me, Tony Stewart won the 2nd heat. The third heat winner was Robby Gordon.
Once the qualifying heats were over, it was on to the big race. It was a 30 lap shootout for all the marbles. There were only two leaders in this race, Kevin Harvick who lead lap one and Tony Stewart who lead the other 29 laps. Even though Tony was giving a clinic on how to run on dirt, it was fun to watch. I enjoyed watching Robby Gordon race. You would have thought Robby raced quite a bit on dirt, but not the case. He has raced on dirt, but not in a circle. Last night was his first time to drive on a circle of dirt. And where did Robby finish…that would be 2nd place. Not bad for a first timer. Robby wasn’t the only first timer at the Prelude. Two-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was on hand driving one of Clint Bowyer’s cars. I couldn’t understand why he was driving a white car. I mean a white car on dirt. Doesn’t sound like a good combo to me. I am pretty sure the car didn’t stay completely white after the race.
Kyle Busch also raced, but didn’t do fair as well as he did last year. He almost won last years event. He still drove like he stole it though. He did hit the wall during his qualifying heat, but the car’s crew was able to repair the damage car to get him ready for racing for the feature main. He wasn’t just standing by either, he had hammer in hand pounding out sheet metal.
The racing was good, but the best part of the event were the drivers. You could tell these boys were having fun. This race wasn’t about points or a championship. It was all for fun! You got to see them in an environment where the racing was about having a good time. The drivers were smiling and laughing with one another. To me, this is what racing should be about. Another highlight of the evening was driver introductions. It was funny to watch them trying to get the drivers corralled–kinda of like herding cats. Some of them looked like they had no clue they were being introduced to the audience. They were to busy talking with other drivers, etc. I can tell this wasn’t your typical NASCAR driver introduction. The only resemblence to a NASCAR driver introduction were the boos I heard when they introduced Jeff, Jimmie, and Kyle. Even in Rossburg, Ohio, these three get majority of the boos.
I don’t know if I mentioned it but Tony Stewart walked away with the trophy last night and Kyle Petty walked away with a $1 million check from Tony Stewart.
I would have to give major props to Tony Stewart for all the work he has done with regards to the Victory Junction Gang camp. I believe this is the 3rd million dollar check he has presented to the Pettys. Say what you want about Tony, but he truly gives of himself with regards to his foundation as well as Victory Junction. I don’t know Tony personally, I only know what I read about him. I do know majority of us see Tony for his on track personality, but last night was what the real Tony is all about. So if you didn’t get a chance to watch this year’s Prelude last night, check out when they show it on Speed later this year. I definitely say it was worth my $25.