Who to Watch: Trucks Head to the Irish Hills

Who’s as lucky as a leprechaun and who’s going to be looking for a four leaf clover in the Irish Hills of Michigan this weekend?

Proud new papa James Buescher has a fourth and fifth place finish the past two years, sitting fourth in the points he needs a win this season.

In the past four races, Timothy Peters averaged a 7th place finish. Currently 10th in the points and 85 markers back, Peters and his team need to regroup and find some magic as the season winds down.

Miguel Paludo is on a top-10 streak this season, totaling seven and tying his 2011 career high record. In just two previous MIS races, Paludo has finished third and tenth respectively. With those numbers in Paludo’s favor and adding to it that he is still searching for his first career win, Miguel will be fighting for another top-10 but preferably a win.

It’s hard to count Ty Dillon as a driver to watch with just one previous race BUT he did finish sixth in that race. With his older brother Austin garnering the media attention this weekend, Ty could really one up him with a trip to victory lane.

Atop the list of those looking for that four leaf clover this weekend,  current points leader Matt Crafton. With an average finish of 17.9, that is going to shrink the points gap if the ThorSport crew has not made any gains.

Joining his ThorSport teammate in the “in need of luck” category is Johnny Sauter. With four starts at Michigan, he only brings home an average finish of 13.5, a number that is not so lucky or good for a driver of his caliber.

Young Dakoda Armstrong has a new Crew Chief (Sauter’s former, Joe Shear Jr.) calling the race this weekend and they need to get some positive momentum going for the Turn One Racing team.

Now that you’ve read who I am watching, who’s on your list?

Let’s Talk About This…



FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @AmandaEbersole

Editorial Trucks

CWTS Back at it at MIS; Jeb Burton Leads Youth Movement

By Amanda Ebersole – With a week off before heading to Michigan International Speedway, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is about to head into a busy five race stretch.

What’s the buzz as we prepare for racing in the “Irish Hills?”

Matt Crafton atop the points standings

With a 52 point lead over Jeb Burton, Matt Crafton is currently the man to beat in the NCWTS.

After an eighth place finish at Pocono, Crafton scored his 11th consecutive top-10 finish to start the season, the fourth-longest such streak in the series. While that is an impressive stat, will Crafton be able to take his early success and turn it into his first series championship? It’s been eight races since he took the points lead and his lead keeps growing, with no Chase to reset the points, it is the 88’s championship to lose at this point.

Impressive young talent

While seasoned veteran Matt Crafton leading the points, look to who is second in the standings…Jeb Burton. Burton along with Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr., German Quiroga and Brennan Newberry are all candidates in the 2013 Rookie of the Year battle.

With strong performances from all the rookies, it is hard to say who is a clear favorite among the class. Personally, if ever asked, I would choose between Jeb Burton and Ryan Blaney.

A monkey wrench in the season

In just three weeks the NCWTS will head to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for their first race on Canadian soil. Phased out in 2001, this is the first road course brought back to the series schedule and will present a challenge to drivers accustomed to left turns.

Featuring a total of 10 turns, high-speed corners and elevation changes to add to the challenges, the series is on an even playing field as none of the series regulars are considered to be road course experts.

In a season of firsts that have included a dirt race and now a road race, rookies breaking through to victory lane and whatever awaits us come November – who are you keeping your eye on in the series?


Let’s Talk About This…




Ryan Blaney Wins in Pocono

LONG POND, Pa.–Ryan Blaney took the lead on a Lap 53 restart and held it through the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish to win Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 125 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Pocono Raceway.

Driving the No. 29 Ford owned by Brad Keselowski, Blaney, 19, beat Miguel Paludo to the finish line by .271 seconds to earn his first victory of the season, his first at Pocono and the second of his career in the Truck Series.

The runner-up finish was a career best for Paludo.

Rookie German Quiroga finished third, followed by Joey Coulter–last year’s Pocono winner–and Ross Chastain, Blaney’s teammate. Ron Hornaday Jr., Darrell Wallace Jr., series leader Matt Crafton, Brendan Gaughan and Brennan Newberry completed the top 10.

Newberry’s top 10 was his first in 21 Truck Series starts.

After a spin by Ricky Ehrgott on the opening lap, the race was caution-free until Lap 42 of a scheduled 50, when NASCAR threw a yellow because of debris on the track.

Todd Bodine, driving in a one-race deal for Turner Motorsports, held the lead at the time, but during a scramble for the lead in Turn 1 after a Lap 47 restart, Bodine spun after contact from James Buescher’s Chevrolet to bring out the third caution.

Contact between the trucks of Ty Dillon and Johnny Sauter, as Dillon moved up the track believing he had a clear lane to the outside, caused the final caution on Lap 50 and extended the race four laps beyond its posted distance.

Blaney took the lead from Quiroga on the final restart and pulled away for the victory.


Who’s Hot, Warm and Cold in the NCWTS

As we approach the halfway mark of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season, many fans are still “buzzing” over the awesomeness that was Eldora Speedway.

While Eldora was awesome, let’s not forget about the rest of the NCWTS season, which always puts on a great show each week. While it appears the series is often overlooked in the mainstream media, I have always paid more attention and perhaps because I like to root for the underdogs.

With no “Chase” format, there is no luxury of a reset of the points. Where you are now is the spot you have to work with. With all that said, let’s take a look at the drivers who are hot, charm, cold and on the radar


This just may be the year of Matt Crafton – mark my words! The fourteen year veteran of the Truck Series has yet to win a series title but if the second half goes the same as the first, it will be Crafton leading the charge at Homestead.

Rookie Jeb Burton has championship racing in his blood, mixed with God given talent, I see Ward’s son matching and exceeding the career of his father.

James Buescher decided to forego a seat in the Nationwide Series with the hopes of a back-to-back NCWTS title. Currently he is 51 points back which is about a race and a half behind so the question is simply will Crafton fumble enough to allow Buescher to rise to the top? With Talladega left in the remaining races, anything is possible.


While these drivers still have a shot at the Championship, currently there is nothing to write home about.

Ty Dillon has a lot of pressure on him being the grandson of Richard Childress, brother of 2011 champion Austin and the reigning Rookie of the Year. With one win this season, Dillon has been all across the board with finishes ranging from top 5, top 10 and top 20’s. Making it to the lead pack will require consistency with the No. 3 team.

Saying the name Johnny Sauter makes me think of two things: “God Bless America” and the awesome “Hot Honeys” paint scheme and the jokes that evoked on Twitter. Besides that, Sauter has fallen off after winning the first two races of the season. With his crew chief leaving prior to Eldora, I imagine that the team is in a phase of adjustment and that makes me want to watch and see what happens. Perhaps another “God Bless America” moment is coming our way? One can only hope!


Looking at the finishes of Red Horse Racing driver Timothy Peters, it is a roller coaster of ups and downs. Winning at Iowa was a positive step forward for the 17 team but to make any real attempt at the championship, they need to have more consistent top 5 finishes.

It pains me to add Brendan Gaughan to the cold list because honestly he has had some really strong runs this season. The reason he’s cold is simply that he seems to be a magnet for bad luck and it usually is not of his own making. Someone please send him some good luck charms!

Don’t count these drivers out:

While I could honestly play the safe route and take the rest of the field on this topic, I am not. Yes, all drivers that race each week automatically earn my full respect but that doesn’t make all 30+ trucks a legitimate contender to win races.

Miguel Paludo is a fan favorite and perhaps one of the nicest drivers in the garage area. In his second year of racing with Turner Motorsports, Paludo needs a win to cement his future in the sport of NASCAR.

Young gun Ryan Blaney comes into NASCAR following in the treadmarks of his dad, Dave. In his first full-time season, the 19-year-old Blaney is turning heads with the Brad Keselowski Racing team. With a top finish of third, I wouldn’t count out a visit to victory lane in the near future.

Rookie Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. always turns heads because people think he is the long lost brother of Rusty, Mike and Kenny. (Face it, you thought that at some point!) In just a short time, fans are chatting about “Bubba” and his prowess on track but to fairly grade him, I want to see more.

The second half of the season promises just to be an exciting as the first, minus the slinging of dirt at Eldora. Who are you watching as the season progresses? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter.


Eldora Photo Diary

To reach Eldora Speedway, one must first navigate 
miles of sprawling metropolitan development.

The track itself is a combination of rugged intensity, and bucolic

charm. Also, a metric sh-t-ton of dirt. 


Just how dusty is it in the Eldora Speedway infield? This picture of
Clay Greenfield’s #68 1-800-Pavement truck was taken with no filter.


What happens in Rossburg, Ohio, STAYS in Rossburg Ohio. Right, Eddie Gossage?


The #34 Turner Scott Motorsports entry of Ryan Newman inhales a cloud of dust on way out for practice.
Considering he made out with a dirty yard of bricks days later, this probably wasn’t a big deal.

 Track panorama. Once the dust settled, it was a gorgeous day out there.


Track president Roger Slack & Co. did a masterful job with the event, which included trucking in this temporary media center complete with TVs, working wi-fi, etc.
to accommodate the many credentialed media and/or Twitter losers (That’d be me).


The qualifying heat races were intense and riveting. And as we found out from the
deluge of angry Twitter traffic, NOT broadcast live on Speed.

Roger Slack and track owner Tony Stewart were gracious and humble
in the drivers’ meeting, despite probably knowing that the event would reach a
level of awesomeness that would have NASCAR fans calling for an
immediate air-drop of dirt onto every racing surface in the nation.

Following the heat races, the right rear panels of most trucks, like the #30 of Kyle Larson pictured here, resembled
crude 3rd-grade papier-mâché projects that would have received no better than a D-.

Eventual co-star of the show Clay Greenfield stopped by the official tweet-up, answering questions, signing
autographs, and discussing his deep-rooted friendship with Norm Benning.

During the heat races, Matt Crafton’s line was somewhere between
“huggy pole” and “cutting directly through the infield.”

Last time I saw the stands completely packed was at Kentucky Speedway three years ago.
The difference at Eldora was that they were all able to eventually leave.

. Eldora11
The legendary four-wide salute was three more than the salute Norm Benning
gave to Clay Greenfield after the last-chance qualifier.

Pre-race fireworks. Or Scott Bloomquist detonating trees with his mind.
Word is he’s capable of such sorcery.

Eventual winner Austin Dillon sadly did not perform his legendary victory belly-flop, which
on a slick track, could have probably made it all the way around to turn three at least.

Follow @nascarcasm


Eldora Signals New Era for NASCAR

Tony Stewart says he’s going wait until after this weekend’s Brickyard 400 before making any decisions about the future of the Mudsummer Classic.

If he has the desire to do this all over again, he will certainly have the demand for a follow-up performance from NASCAR and the Camping World Truck Series.

Just moments after Austin Dillon won the inaugural event, fans took to Twitter, calling the race “the event of the year,” surging the #MudsummerClassic and #Eldora hashtags to no. 5 and 7 on the countrywide now trending list.

Basing it purely on the live reaction, the event appears to be an indisputable success for everyone involved. Despite only drawing a humble crowd of 23,000 (a sellout at the Ohio half-mile), the event was the most exciting in terms of energy this entire season and will likely overshadow everything else that happens down the road at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

So what happens next?

Dillon was so thrilled to compete at Eldora that he expressed a desire to come back twice next year. Third-place finisher Ryan Newman wants additional dirt races too but would rather see NASCAR expand to other eligible tracks, assuming they meet the safety and logistical requirements.

But this isn’t just about dirt tracks — it’s about variety.

Both the Nationwide and Truck Series schedules have become Diet Xerox copies of Cup in recent years and once fans were shown a hint of diversity, they treated it as if it were an “11 out of 10.”

The Mudsummer Classic was a very good race and the response is just a reminder that fans are really starting to demand more. And if the Eldora Truck Series race was supposed to appease that demand, it’s not going to last long because now they know what they are missing.

It wasn’t too long ago that both the Truck and Nationwide Series had its own separate identities with tracks like Saugus Speedway, Memphis, Gateway and international road courses like Mexico and Montreal a fixture on the schedule.

And on Wednesday, Eldora and the Truck Series proved the value of atmosphere, with a sold out crowd making a little dirt track race feel bigger than the Super Bowl. They even chanted, in unison, ‘we want Cup cars’ at Robin Pemberton following victory lane celebrations. Good luck getting that sort of crowd cohesion at Talladega.

And while a Sprint Cup event on dirt might be too much to ask for now, the seeds may have already been planted in what was once a cornfield in Southwest Ohio.


Austin Dillon Holds Off Kyle Larson to win Eldora

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service


ROSSBURG, Ohio — Austin Dillon returned to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series the same night NASCAR returned to dirt.

Racing in the series for the first time since winning the 2011 championship, Dillon pulled away during a green-white-checkered-flag finish to win Wednesday night’s CarCash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, the first dirt-track race in any of NASCAR’s top three series since Richard Petty triumphed at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 30, 1970.

But the real winners were those who took the leap of faith to stage a mid-week race on dirt, those who came to rural Ohio to see it and those who consumed it through broadcast media.

“It feels amazing,” said Dillon, who started 19th and quickly worked his way forward. “Going into this week, I was just really focused on doing whatever it took to make sure we had a good show for the fans and NASCAR so we could come back again…

“I think it was a success. It was such a great show… This is real racing right here, and that’s all I’ve got to say.”

Before an enthusiastic packed house at the half-mile dirt track owned by three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, Dillon held off Kyle Larson to claim his fifth NCWTS win. Ryan Newman ran third behind Dillon and Larson, followed by Joey Coulter and Brendan Gaughan.

Adroitly using his dirt-track experience to work his way through traffic, Larson charged from his 13th-place starting position to the lead during the first 60-lap segment of the race. On Lap 39, Larson passed Timothy Peters for the top spot and pulled away to a lead of more than three seconds.

On Lap 54, NASCAR called a caution after debris from Scott Bloomquist’s Toyota landed in the racing groove, and that yellow carried over through the end of the first segment.

Larson led the field to green to start the second segment of 50 laps, but on Lap 89 Austin Dillon grabbed the top spot in heavy traffic. The segment ended with Larson in hot pursuit of Dillon but unable to complete the pass.

To Larson, Dillon’s pass in traffic on Lap 89, and a caution a lap later — moments after Larson had regained the top spot—were decisive. Dillon kept the lead for a restart on Lap 97 because Dillon had been in front at the last scoring loop before the yellow.

“I was getting through traffic really good, and I spent a few laps behind that truck — I think it was the 77 (German Quiroga),” Larson said. “I was just getting a little bit impatient, and I got into his left rear with my right front. It kind of jerked the wheel right out of my hand and got me all out of shape.

“Austin was able to scoot by. I got back by right as the yellow came out, and that’s what kind of killed the race for us.”

After pit stops, Dillon and Larson took the green side by side to commence the final 40 laps.

Though a series of five heat races determined the starting order for the main event, Ken Schrader, 58, earned the distinction as the pole winner during time trials that preceded the heats. Benefiting from an early draw, Schrader covered the half-mile distance in 19.709 seconds (91.329 mph) to become the oldest pole winner in any of NASCAR’s top three touring series.

That distinction had belonged to Dick Trickle, who in 1999 won a NASCAR Nationwide Series pole at Dover at age 57.

Schrader won the first heat race from the pole, holding off fast-closing J.R. Heffner, to lock himself into the top starting position for the 150-lap main event. The NASCAR veteran clearly was excited about his effort after the first heat race.

“There’s been more hype for this race — I’m thinking back — since the inaugural Brickyard 400 (in 1994),” Schrader said.

Schrader edged dirt-track ace Jared Landers (90.891 mph) for the top spot in time trials. Landers, who was driving a NASCAR Camping World Truck for the first time, is the current Eldora track record holder in Dirt Late Models, having turned a lap in 14.922 seconds in that classification.

Most emblematic of the occasion, however, wasn’t Schrader starting up front. It was 61-year-old Norm Benning taking the green from the back of the field — and the fight he put up for the privilege of doing so.

Slamming and banging with Clay Greenfield in the final three laps of the last-chance heat, Benning refused to give up the fifth and final transfer spot into the main event. Drivers who already were locked into the race stood and cheered as Benning and Greenfield pounded each other through the final corner, with Benning prevailing.

Afterwards, crew members and fellow drivers alike congratulated the veteran racer. Yes, Benning had just finished fifth in a last-chance qualifier, but the way he did it captured perfectly the mood at NASCAR’s first national series dirt-track race in 43 years.

Note: Eighth-place finisher Matt Crafton expanded his series lead to 48 points over second-place Jeb Burton, who came home 18th after falling victim to a five-car accident on lap 115. James Buescher is third in points, 51 back of Crafton, after a 19th-place run at Eldora.


NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – 1-800 CarCash Mudsummer Classic presented by CNBC Prime’s The Profit

Eldora Speedway

Rossburg, Ohio

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


1. (19) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 153, $28375.

2. (13) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 153, $20250.

3. (10) Ryan Newman(i), Chevrolet, 153, $14400.

4. (11) Joey Coulter, Toyota, 153, $15300.

5. (8) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 153, $12575.

6. (3) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 153, $10450.

7. (17) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Toyota, 153, $10900.

8. (7) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 153, $9850.

9. (6) Dave Blaney(i), Ford, 153, $7550.

10. (14) Max Gresham, Chevrolet, 153, $11025.

11. (22) Dakoda Armstrong, Chevrolet, 153, $9700.

12. (2) Jared Landers, Chevrolet, 153, $9650.

13. (16) Tracy Hines, Toyota, 153, $9600.

14. (1) Ken Schrader(i), Toyota, 153, $7300.

15. (23) Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 153, $10575.

16. (15) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 153, $9450.

17. (4) Kenny Wallace(i), Toyota, 153, $9400.

18. (5) Jeb Burton #, Chevrolet, 153, $9350.

19. (9) James Buescher, Chevrolet, 153, $10150.

20. (25) German Quiroga #, Toyota, 153, $9725.

21. (12) Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, 153, $9050.

22. (24) John Wes Townley, Toyota, 152, $9000.

23. (29) Justin Jennings, Ford, 151, $6700.

24. (28) Jason Bowles(i), Chevrolet, 151, $8900.

25. (21) Scott Bloomquist, Toyota, 151, $7750.

26. (30) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 149, $7550.

27. (26) Brennan Newberry #, Chevrolet, 145, $6500.

28. (18) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 137, $6450.

29. (20) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, Accident, 120, $6350.

30. (27) Jeff Babcock, Chevrolet, Engine, 63, $6710.


Average Speed of Race Winner:  67.401 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 08 Mins, 06 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.197 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 30 laps.

Lead Changes:  5 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Schrader(i) 1-15; T. Peters 16-38; K. Larson(i) 39-88; A. Dillon(i) 89-121; K. Larson(i) 122; A. Dillon(i) 123-153.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  A. Dillon(i) 2 times for 64 laps; K. Larson(i) 2 times for 51 laps; T. Peters 1 time for 23 laps; K. Schrader(i) 1 time for 15 laps.

Top 10 in Points: M. Crafton – 393; J. Burton # – 345; J. Buescher – 342; T. Dillon – 337; J. Sauter – 320; T. Peters – 320; B. Gaughan – 319; R. Blaney # – 319; D. Wallace Jr. # – 309; M. Paludo – 308.

Editorial Trucks

Benning Gets His Day in the Sun. At Night. On Dirt.

He’s made 103 starts in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, but you’d seemingly never notice. He’s probably had just a handful of finishes on the lead-lap and when the faster trucks approach, he respectfully stays out of their way. I doubt he’s flagged-down for autographs on his way to pit road for qualifying and it’s unlikely that he’s had many dinners interrupted while on the road. But 61-year-old Norm Benning is somewhat iconic as a never-give-up , see-ya-next-week competitor. If there’s a truck race to be run, he’ll be there.

It always struck me as odd, that guys like Norm Benning even show up. It’s like, you know you’re not going to win; you’ll be lucky to finish on the lead lap and you’re using earning from one race to get to the next. What’s the point? Well, I kind of figured it out last night.

Not everyone can drive like Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart. Not everyone is going to be planted with an organization that virtually has unlimited resources. And not everyone is going to be someone who sponsors are clamoring for to hawk their products. Not everyone can be that guy. Someone has to be the “rest of the field.” I think sometimes we lose sight of the fact that some of us are here for the raw love of the sport; the race-to-race traveling and the fellowship we look forward to. There are some that are just happy to be here. Norm Benning is that guy.

So here I am, Chinese take-out on my lap watching the heat races. As I lifted a fork-full of Lo Mein to my face, I see Norm Benning and Clay Greenfield battling door-to-door for a transfer position into the main event. Let me repeat that: Norm Benning and Clay Greenfield battling door-to-door for a transfer position into the main event. HUH?

I thought it would be a quick camera shot of two back-markers bouncing off each other and then back to the leaders. Instead, it became an epic battle of two guys who rarely even get a mention. The next thing I know, I’m on my feet. Chinese food flying across the room (to the delight of the dogs) and I’m rooting for Norm Benning to get into the race. Again, I’m going to repeat that because I can’t believe I just wrote it:  I’m on my feet. Chinese food flying across the room and I’m rooting for Norm Benning to get into the race.

I was a fist-pumping moment. And it was awesome.

The crowning glory for me, as you may expect, was the heartfelt moment when Norm flipped off his nemesis. He may not have a lot of speed, but he sure has the passion.

So, on an evening when NASCAR made history and a definitive statement to the fans, Norm Benning shines brightly in a manner which he’s never likely to shine again.

Good for him.


normmy.jpg-large copy


Ryan Newman ‘Absolutely’ Wants More Dirt

ROSSBURG, Ohio — Ryan Newman never expected to have the opportunity to compete on dirt at the NASCAR level but he says he never thought he would race in a stock car with wings, the original Car of Tomorrow, either.

After finishing third in the inaugural Mudsummer Classic, Newman told reporters after the race that he enjoyed the experience and that NASCAR should consider making more stops on dirt if that’s what the fans wanted.

“It’s awesome — it’s fun,” Newman said. “It’s very simple, a lot of simplicity to it, and I’m not saying that this makes it great but you have to ask the fans.

“But if you were to ask my opinion — I’d say absolutely.”

When asked about which tracks he would like NASCAR to look at next, Newman suggested many of the classic fairground speedways, specifically mentioning Indianapolis, DuQuoin and the Illinois State Fairgrounds — both tracks that are on the ARCA Racing Series schedule.

It should be noted that ARCA uses passed down Sprint Cup chassis in their tour.

“There are other great race tracks that I think we could go to as well but this was a great show at least from our perspective, to do something that was off the charts different and great at the same time…I didn’t do this because I was a Cup driver or anything, I did it because I’m a driver and wanted to run this first race back on dirt.”

Newman competed in the race for Turner Scott Motorsports adding that he expressed an interest in doing it the moment they announced it and that he would do it again. But which dirt tracks would you like to see NASCAR run and should it extend to Nationwide or Cup too?

Give us your opinions on Twitter at @MattWeaverSBN and @PopularSpeed.

Editorial Trucks

Father and Son Look to Get Closer Tonight

ROSSBURG, Ohio — Just as it was from day one, the Mudsummer Classic Truck Series event has confirmed that NASCAR — at its foundation – is primarily about family ties.

That was no more evident than on Wednesday afternoon during the media center session with the father-and-son/teammate duo of Dave and Ryan Blaney plus the Dillon brothers.

Wednesday’s race is special on several levels as it is the first NASCAR national touring race on dirt since 1970 with the roster providing the perfect blend of both racing past and future. And while NASCAR draws on a family’s love and mutual respect more than any other sport, it also draws out the most competitive aspects of their personality.

The Blaneys rarely compete against each other on local short tracks and Wednesday will mark the first time that they have done so underneath the NASCAR banner.

Once all these factors were realized — and Dave secured a ride with Brad Keselowski Racing — he was able to mark the Mudsummer Classic as a must-win event on his schedule.

“It’s the first time NASCAR has raced on dirt since 1970 and it’s happening at such a historic facility,” the elder Blaney said. “Tony (Stewart) keeps it so well-organized and hopefully Ryan and I will be able to race close together (on Wednesday night).

“And I say that because if we’re close together, that means we’re going to be close to the front. This race itself is pretty historic and several guys have a chance to win — and I just hope that I’m one of them.”

Despite his father’s uncanny achievements on dirt, Ryan doesn’t have a lot of experience on clay. The most that he has attempted in his career is just a few starts in a big block modified and now he’s expected to take the fight to his dad and his championship rivals — at Eldora.

But the younger Blaney isn’t intimidated.

“I grew up going to tracks like this,” Ryan Blaney said. “I’ve seen enough of these races to know what to do when the track changes and this team has worked really hard to prepare both cars.”

The Dillon brothers have competed against each other their entire lives, creating a rivalry that likely won’t be decided by Eldora. Austin is the defending Truck Series champion and is running this race as a one-off entry owned by Susan Bates.

Ty expressed a little envy over his older brother not having to worry about championship points but explained that winning on Wednesday night would negate any concerns whatsoever.

“I’ve always enjoyed racing against Austin and it’s cool to be able to do it here with all the experience that we have on dirt,” the younger Dillon said. “Hopefully we can win because of the championship and take advantage of that experience and get us some momentum.”