TRUCKS: Eldora Entry List Features Battle Of Ringers Vs. Regulars

Jacob Seelman Featured, Trucks 0 Comments

Drivers line up four-wide prior to the start of last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway. (NASCAR photo)

ROSSBURG, Ohio — Wednesday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway will feature drivers from two walks of life: those with heavy dirt experience and those racing full-time with title aspirations.

Inevitably, the two sides will clash prior to the finish of the fifth annual Eldora Dirt Derby, the only dirt track race among all three NASCAR national series and an event that has become a fan-favorite since it was first introduced to the masses in 2013.

In the four prior runnings of the Dirt Derby, four different drivers have graced victory lane, representing multiple sides of the battle between specialists and regulars on the half-mile Ohio dirt oval owned by retired three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.

The inaugural race was claimed by now-Cup Series star Austin Dillon (2013), while then-series regular Darrell Wallace Jr. (2014) won the first of two Eldora races for Kyle Busch Motorsports the next year in a performance that shocked many onlookers.

Christopher Bell, who this season leads the series in wins with three, was still a dirt track specialist when he won his maiden Truck race at Eldora in 2015 and last season, Kyle Larson finally shook the monkey off his back by winning at Eldora and has since continued to prove that he is one of the most talented drivers in America on both dirt and pavement.

This year, Bell returns as the heavy favorite to become the first repeat winner in Truck Series history at Eldora, but he’ll have a host of challengers from both the ‘ringer’ category as well as the regulars to fend off if he hopes to accomplish the feat.

Chief among the ringers is two-time Chili Bowl Nationals champion and former USAC national midget champion Rico Abreu, who was a Truck Series regular for ThorSport Racing last year when he competed at Eldora but this year returns to the series in a one-off appearance, driving the No. 89 Toyota as a fifth entry for ThorSport.

Both drivers entered from Young’s Motorsports would be considered ringers for this year’s Eldora event, with Australian sprint car driver Max Johnston (No. 02) pairing up with two-time Stadium Super Truck Series champion and off-road ace Sheldon Creed (No. 20) in a double assault that looks to bring team owner Tyler Young his first-ever NASCAR national series win as an owner.

Bobby Pierce (63) leads Christopher Bell in last year’s Aspen Dental Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway. (NASCAR photo)

The same can be said about the underdog Mittler Brothers team, with defending USAC Silver Crown Series champion Chris Windom (No. 36) driving as a teammate to 2015 Eldora pole winner and race runner-up Bobby Pierce (No. 63), who returns to the Dirt Derby for the third time fresh off his third-straight UMP DIRTcar Summernationals championship.

A transmission failure last year ended Pierce’s shot at victory after he led 102 of the first 126 laps of the event.

Stewart Friesen will also be one to watch. The Super DIRTcar Series big-block modified ace is anticipated to be pulling double-duty, running both his modified (Tuesday) and Truck (Wednesday) as he seeks to avenge a strong run gone sour from last year’s event.

And then there’s the wily old veteran. 62-year-old Ken Schrader will keep his streak of competing in every Eldora Truck race alive when he straps in for Bolen Motorsports in the No. 66 Chevrolet that Ross Chastain has driven to a pair of top-10 finishes this season.

Schrader, a former USAC Sprint Car and USAC Silver Crown champion who has won in nearly every racing division he has ever competed in, won during the Truck Series’ inaugural season in 1995 at Saugus Speedway but to-date has a best finish of fourth (2014) in the Dirt Derby.

Meanwhile, defending series champion Johnny Sauter leads the regulars into battle as the regular-season points leader, but Sauter is still chasing his first-ever top-five finish at Eldora and finished outside the top-20 in last year’s race.

Bell and Chase Briscoe might be considered drivers who have the best of both worlds, running as full-time Truck Series drivers but both carrying extensive dirt backgrounds from the early days of their racing careers.

Two-time series champion Matt Crafton and two-time season winner John Hunter Nemechek — along with rookies Kaz Grala, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson and Cody Coughlin — are all also hoping their Truck experience pays dividends in what is anticipated to be one of the most hotly-contested races of the season.

The fifth annual Eldora Dirt Derby takes the green flag Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. ET, live on FOX Business, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

Full Entry List

 

About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.

Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

Email Jacob at: editor@racechaseronline.com

Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

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