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.”