NASCAR Cup Series
Prelude offers excitement, memories
NASCAR Cup Series

Prelude offers excitement, memories

Published May. 24, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

My most memorable moment from the Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway is probably a memorable moment for a lot of other people, too.

In fact, it’s one of the most exciting and heart-pounding things that’s happened at the Prelude in the last six years – at least, that’s what Tony Stewart has told me, and he ought to know since it’s his event and his track.

It was the 2007 Prelude to the Dream and Bill Elliott and I got together on the frontstretch at the end of our heat race. From what I understand, the drivers who weren’t in the race were all watching, and they were pretty sure it was shaping up to be something big. Needless to say, we didn’t disappoint.

I caught just a little bit of a rut – just a little – and it straightened me out and shot me up to the wall. I stayed on the gas, but Bill Elliott was rolling on the high side. I didn’t know he was coming. I never heard him, and I never saw him. Next thing I know, my car is on its side and Bill has flipped over. It was a rather big moment.


I’ve watched the race and the accident several different times and, honestly, we both got pretty lucky because that could’ve been a lot worse than it was, especially for how fast we’re going at that racetrack. And I’m not going to point any fingers, because it really wasn’t a finger-pointing deal. It was just a racing deal.

I wish that my most memorable moment didn’t involve a wreck, but I’m pretty sure the fans enjoyed it. It also made for some good conversation afterward in the pits when everybody was asking, “What happened?”

Hopefully, this is our year to make a different memory at the Prelude to the Dream. It’s a fun race, and even if you’re not up front, it’s just as fun to sling a dirt Late Model sideways for 30 laps.

You’re still trying to get the best finish you can for your team, so a battle for 12th might be just as important as a battle for the lead.

The cool thing about the Prelude is that as race car drivers, we’re competitive at everything we do. And I mean absolutely everything. So as much fun as we have, it gets super-competitive at Eldora.

Then you throw in the team element and it changes things a little bit. You’re there to beat everybody, but then you’ve got to race with your teammates for the greater good. So you have to take those things into consideration when you’re racing somebody.

You want to get the most points you can for your team, so even if you don’t win, your team does, which for me means I’ll be working with Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Ken Schrader, David Gilliland and Ron Capps on Team Atlanta as we represent Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

That’s probably the coolest thing about the Prelude to the Dream. We get to race and have fun, but at the end of the night, we’re making a real difference. We feel so lucky to be able to do the things that we love to do.

So to go run a dirt race on a Wednesday night and then make it to benefit four of the nation’s top children’s hospitals, that’s pretty special.

The three other hospitals benefitting from the June 8 Prelude to the Dream are Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., Children’s Medical Center Dallas and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

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 or Updates can also be found on Twitter at and follow the hashtag #RideWithUs, or become a fan on Facebook at


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