Truck Series headed back to the dirt

NASCAR will go back to the dirt for the first time since 1970

when the Truck Series visits Eldora Speedway in Ohio.

The July 24 event at the Tony Stewart-owned track in Rossburg

will be a lead-in to the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races

later that weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion, believed the Wednesday

night race would attract drivers from all three NASCAR national

levels and maybe even other series.

”Younger drivers and veterans from the World of Outlaws, late

models, USAC drivers that will have an opportunity to land rides

for that race … Wednesday night at that time of the year is

normally a pretty free night,” Stewart said. ”It gives us an

opportunity to get guys in there that don’t normally have that

chance.”

The deal to race at Eldora was announced Wednesday as part of

next season’s 22-race schedule, which will also include the series’

first international stop. The Camping World Truck Series will visit

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario in September. It will be

the first road-course track for the series since 2000, and ensure a

NASCAR national series presence in Canada for a seventh consecutive

season.

”It’s very important that we maintain our national series

presence in Canada,” said NASCAR senior vice president of racing

operations Steve O’Donnell. ”We’ve accomplished that goal while

also bringing a world-class venue like Canadian Tire Motorsport

Park on board. The Canadian fan base is so passionate and has a

high regard for NASCAR.”

The Eldora race has long been rumored, but a deal could not be

put together until safety experts from the University of Nebraska

visited the track Monday to determine if SAFER barriers needed to

be installed. Although it was decided that the track needs some

minor modifications to the inside walls, actual soft walls will not

be installed.

”We are going to be making changes to the exits and entrances

to the pit areas,” Stewart said. ”That’s stuff we already started

looking at. With the university’s help, they’re helping us make

that even better than what we had planned. There will be some

changes structural inside the track, but all for the safety

obviously. I was pretty surprised and pleased of the report that we

got from them.

”We had our heads held up after they left. We felt the few

things they asked us to change really gave us a lot of confidence

that what we have been doing there has been done well.”

The format of the race is undecided, and it could include heat

races.

”We are looking at how races are competed at dirt tracks

historically with heat races or last chance races,” O’Donnell

said. ”As Tony said, we think we’re going to have huge interest,

not only from the series, but young up and coming dirt racers,

veteran dirt racers. We think it will be a pretty compelling

format. It will be a points race on the schedule, but probably some

different variables included in the event.”

Stewart and Austin Dillon participated in an October

compatibility test to determine if the trucks were a fit at Eldora,

and Stewart said Wednesday that rain had made the conditions less

than favorable. But aside from removing the splitter from the

trucks, Stewart said there were no issues.

At the time, Stewart believed it was just a test. But because it

went so well, he quickly determined he had a real shot at landing a

race at his speedway.

”I didn’t actually honestly believe that it was going to gain

the momentum that it had,” he said. ”Obviously, this year when

the discussions came up again, the interest was there, I was

definitely pleased and caught off guard by it for sure. But

definitely at that point, realizing that everyone at NASCAR was

genuinely interested in doing it, it was something we put the full

court press on.”

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