OBSERVATIONS: Eldora Dirt Derby

NASCAR’s annual Wednesday night trip to get dirty has been special so far as the 2018 edition of the Eldora Dirt Derby for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series did not disappoint.

Beginning right with the qualifying heats, to the final laps of the main event, you can’t deny being entertained by the action on-track as drivers ran as high as the wall, to as low as they could go and through the middle trying to make up ground. How about four-wide for the lead on a late-race restart inside of the final 10 laps?

With trucks in every groove imaginable, it’s understandable that passing was at a premium as drivers found themselves stuck in traffic unable to make a line work at times during the event. Indeed, this made the strategy of not pitting at the start of the final stage a perfect opportunity. However, a driver that chose to make his way down – Chase Briscoe – ultimately snagged the checkered flag. Therefore, with the right handling truck and ability behind the wheel, you could make it happen.

That said, the finish was everything as ThorSport Racing teammates Briscoe, and Grant Enfinger remained side-by-side through the final lap, bouncing off each other, right until the checkered flag. That type of racing is what stock cars were bred on, and if fans could get that every week, there’d be no complaints ever.

I get what Briscoe meant in victory lane in apologizing for the contact with Enfinger due to being teammates and such, saying that’s “not how he races,” but he didn’t have anything be sorry for. He followed the fundamentals of racing in rubbing, but he didn’t wreck Enfinger and ruin his race. As they said in Days of Thunder, “He didn’t hit you, he didn’t nudge you, he rubbed you, and son, rubbin’ is racing.”

For ThorSport, this race is their most impressive of the season with three trucks in the top-four as Matt Crafton finished fourth. It also marks their second straight win after Ben Rhodes picked up the win at Kentucky. While GMS Racing was the dominant force the first half of the year, could ThorSport be finding the momentum at the right time as we head towards the playoffs? 

If it wasn’t for a late-race caution, though, the series could’ve easily had their first series winner as Logan Seavey was impressive in his series debut, leading 53 laps before fading back to eighth on the final pair of restarts. He is currently being dubbed as one of the top prospects, and we’ve seen what dirt talent can accomplish via Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson. Don’t be surprised if he isn’t running full-time, or at least most of the races next season. 

While the night was filled with excitement and a lot of great takeaways, there is one issue that needs to be addressed – the Last Chance Qualifier. It’s fair that 25 trucks qualify through the five heat races, leaving the rest for the shootout. Though only having two transfer from that with the rest of the field set by owner points defeats the purpose. If you’re going to run an event and you want drivers to put it on the edge, make it worth something by having five trucks qualify, leaving only two spots up to provisionals. Could you imagine the moves that would be made out of desperation? Just look back to the first year with Norm Benning.  



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By Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.