My most memorable moment from the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway happened to be my first time there in 2007, which was also my first time running a dirt Late Model.
Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and I were all battling it out for the win. I got to Carl once, but I couldn’t quite get by him. At least I think I woke him up and gave him a run for his money.
They’re always fun nights. Of all the years we’ve done it, I got to finish second in that first year.
Getting that many people out there to Eldora for us NASCAR guys to go run on dirt is always great. Most of us don’t know what we’re doing, but we think we know what we’re doing, so the fans can come out and watch us and get ready for the week leading up to the big “Dream” Late Model race that weekend.
When I pulled in the first time in 2007, I was like, ‘Man, what are all these people doing here?’ You are just out in a bunch of cornfields. So, the cool part about it is that the fans camp out and they don’t care what the weather is like – they’re going to be there to watch some dirt Late Model racing.
We’ve got great people like M&M’s and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing who help us race each Sunday, and that’s what we work for all year. But the cool stuff is to go out and race like we do at Eldora and give back to the local short tracks and, of course, the four children’s hospitals the Prelude benefits.
You always want to race at tracks with a lot of history. Places like Daytona and Indianapolis have so much racing history. Eldora also a lot of that same history – it just happens to be dirt.
It’s got the flat bottom, it’s got the high banks up near the outside walls, and it’s always a good show. I’ve found success around the top of the track. Any time I try to go to the bottom, I just get too loose and I can’t get a run off the bottom of the racetrack. So, for me, it’s always about trying to hook it right up on the cushion on the top of the track and get as much momentum built around that place as I can.
The Prelude to the Dream takes us back to our roots. It takes us back to our local Saturday-night short tracks and brings back sweet memories of how we grew up racing at places like Eldora. We are able to hang out in the pits and mix and mingle with each other and the show moves right along. It’s just a neat atmosphere. You’re just there having a good time and the fans are having a great time, as well.
I’ve come close to winning a couple of times, especially in 2007, so I can’t wait until June 8 so I can get another shot at putting our M&M’s dirt Late Model in Victory Lane for the first time.
The four hospitals benefiting from the June 8 Prelude to the Dream are Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., Children’s Medical Center Dallas, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
The race will be televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View, and the commercial-free broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT) on Wednesday, June 8, with an immediate replay. HBO Pay-Per-View’s racing telecast has a suggested retail price of $24.95 and is available to more than 92 million pay-per-view homes. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming in the pay-per-view industry. Ordering information and up-to-the-minute racing information is available at either www.PreludeToTheDream.org or www.HBO.com. Updates can also be found on Twitter at twitter.com/PreludetoDream and follow the hashtag #RideWithUs, or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PreludeToDream.