By David G. Firestone
I don’t normally do a midweek column, but a brand new event in NASCAR is taking place tonight. Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio is the site of a new experiment in the NASCAR world. For the first time since 1970, one of NASCAR’s top series, the Camping World Truck Series will race on a dirt oval. Tonight at 8PM EST, 30 of NASCAR’s top drivers including Ryan Newman, Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace and others will race 150 laps, in 3 different segments on a ½ mile clay track.
The dirt surface mandates some unique rule requirements for the race, including the removal of the splitter, and a layer of mesh on the front grill, as seen here. Massive changes to the spoilers are included, as seen here. The tires are grooved, and are not as wide as standard Goodyear Wrangers used in the truck series. The most unusual addition to the truck is a “bug deflector” which is designed to deflect stones away from the windshield. This video explains all the changes to the truck for this race.
Some things have surprised me about this event. The first thing is that two drivers who I would have expected to try and make the field aren’t attending the race. The first is Kyle Busch. Busch is what I like to call a “pure driver” and what that means is that he is truly happy when he is behind the wheel of a race car. The dirt style of racing I think would suit Kyle very well. The other absent driver that really shocks me is Tony Stewart. Stewart, like Busch is a pure driver, but what makes Tony’s absence from this race perplexing is that HE OWNS ELDORA SPEEDWAY! Why Tony Stewart isn’t in this race at a track that he owns is kind of odd.
Now even though this is the first dirt-track race featuring on of NASCAR’s top 3 series, I doubt it will be the last. This event is a concept that is a long time coming, and I think it will in the very near future extend to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. I would honestly love to see a second all-star race on Eldora or another dirt track added to both of NASCAR’s top series, in addition to the truck series.