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Crafton celebrates Eldora victory with dirt donuts
Matt Crafton does the dirt version of celebratory donuts at Eldora Speedway .
Student becomes the teacher: Crafton wins on the dirt at Eldora
Matt Crafton, who races a dirt modified to hone his dirt-racing skills, charges late and holds off a dominant Stewart Friesen to take the checkered flag at Eldora Speedway .
Eldora Speedway founder Earl Baltes dies
Longtime track promoter built Ohio track in 1954 RELATED: Big Bill's path to Talladega Eldora Speedway founder and longtime promoter Earl Baltes died Monday morning at an Ohio hospital. He was 93. Baltes built the rural Ohio dirt track in 1954, then switched its configuration four years later to the high-banked, half-mile oval that still exists today. In the decades that followed, Eldora became one of the premier dirt tracks in the United States. For the past two years, it has hosted NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. In addition to the eventual Truck Series races, the promoter had a relationship with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., and assisted France in recruiting cars for the inaugural race at Talladega Superspeedway . Following a 50-year run as owner, Baltes sold the track to NASCAR driver Tony Stewart in 2004. Stewart promptly erected statues of Baltes and his wife, Berneice -- who survives Baltes -- to honor the track's founder. "Earl was the yardstick other track promoters measured themselves by," Stewart said in a track release. "He constantly raised the bar, and he did it by creating events everyone else was afraid to promote. He did them himself, too. Not as a fair board, or a public company, or with major sponsors or millions of dollars in TV money. He put it all on the line with the support of his family. "He and his wife, Berneice, created a happening at Eldora . They turned Eldora into more than just a race track. They made it a place to be. They were integral to the evolution of dirt-track racing and the sport as a whole. Earl will be missed, but he won't ever be forgotten because of his devotion to auto racing." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
What it's like to eat a 'pork chop sandwich' at Eldora Speedway
ROSSBURG, Ohio -- A couple of factoids you may or may not know -- Tony Stewart owns a race track ( Eldora Speedway ) and he also owns a pet pig (which he's nicknamed 'Porkchop'). Porkchop and I are wore out after watching the truck race #Porkchop pic.twitter.com/VyrMHubRsF — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) May 17, 2014 Another little tidbit -- on site at Eldora , where the Camping World Truck Series will be putting on arguably the most anticipated show of the season in Wednesday night's Aspen Dental Dirt Derby (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), there is a vendor selling pork chop sandwiches . Dark? Yes. In poor taste? Not at all. Quite delicious, actually. I hear the guy who owns Eldora has a pet pig named "Porkchop." Dark? Yes. Poor taste? Nope. Delicious. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/Ooneuy1S9j — Pat DeCola (@Pat_DeCola) July 20, 2016 You can judge a sandwich (or most foods, honestly) by the "Seventh-bite factor," which is a term that I literally just made up as I started writing this sentence. But hear me out. It's easy enough for a food to catch you off-guard -- good or bad -- on the first bite. When you find yourself saying "Oh my gosh, this sandwich," seven bites in, you know you've got yourself a sandwich among sandwiches. Boylan's Original Pork Chop Sandwich is that kind of sandwich. I mean, just look at it. Boylan's Original Pork Chop Sandwich (est. 1967) @EldoraSpeedway . #NASCAR #AspenDerby pic.twitter.com/ox1gadBU3P — Pat DeCola (@Pat_DeCola) July 20, 2016 It looks so simple -- the thing is enclosed in literally just a run-of-the-mill, store-bought plain hamburger bun -- but you can tell just from the picture that it's tasty AF. The secret is the marinade, which, just guessing, is a secret in itself. But whatever marination process that led to this perfectly seasoned pork tenderloin resulted in a delectably tangy-yet-sweet creation that had me actually considering getting another despite a serious lack of room in my stomach. Oh, and about that pet pig? Sorry, Porkchop. I recommend this sandwich. #NASCAR #AspenDerby pic.twitter.com/eVEPMkszZJ — Pat DeCola (@Pat_DeCola) July 20, 2016
Abreu aiming for fairy tale beginning at familiar Eldora
RELATED: Complete Eldora schedule " Eldora entry list As a rookie this year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ranks, dirt-racing standout Rico Abreu knew there would be a steep learning curve in his first season competing on bigger, paved speedways in race trucks. But Wednesday's truck race at Ohio's Eldora Speedway half-mile dirt track is another story. And Abreu, 24, would be happy to provide the fairy tale ending. "Definitely, I'm looking forward to it," Abreu said in a recent phone interview, his voice animated with excitement. "Just with my dirt experience and my success at Eldora , it's kind of like a plate race but without restrictors and without a superspeedway and you never know who's going to win. I feel like it's an even playing field." Abreu nearly stood in Eldora's Victory Lane this past weekend, finishing second to Donny Schatz in the Tony Stewart -owned track's famed annual King's Royal World of Outlaw sprint event Saturday. He placed third in races the previous two nights. But perhaps more important, he collected a vital scouting report on the track for this Wednesday's Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby. And Abreu has won at Eldora before. He beat the great Dale Blaney at Eldora in the 2014 All Star Circuit of Champions season finale – the same year he won the USAC Midget Series national championship. A year earlier, he won a USAC race there. Clearly, Eldora is a place on the NASCAR schedule where Abreu feels at home, jokingly conceding the annual one-off dirt race might feel a bit like the Wild Wild West of racing. "I think it's an advantage [to have raced over the weekend], it's just getting a lot of track time and kind of having the chance to see what the track is going to be like," Abreu said. And of course, Eldora presents a huge opportunity to win and punch his ticket into the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase, too. Six races remain to set the eight-driver Chase field. Abreu currently is 14th in the driver standings. "It's another chance I have of getting in the Chase," Abreu said. "And if I don't Wednesday night, I'll have another shot then at the next race. I'm not putting too much pressure on myself, not too worried. I'm going to enjoy being at Eldora with all my friends and enjoy the atmosphere." "There's a ton of people there, a fireworks show and you get to see some asphalt trucks racing on dirt, which is new. For me to be a part of it, I'm really looking forward to it. I had a lot of fun watching last year from up in the spotter's stand and I never knew I'd have a chance to race in it." The established, two-time series championship ThorSport Racing team signed Abreu to drive the No. 98 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra late this offseason. And with very limited pavement experience – although Abreu won a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Columbus, Ohio in his seventh start – he is a solid 14th in the truck standings with a pair of top-10 efforts. His best was a ninth-place finish on the Texas Motor Speedway high banks in June. Abreu's longtime friend and fellow Californian, Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson , is a big supporter -- and this week at Eldora , a prime competitor. "Man, Rico ... he almost won Texas a few weeks ago, so that was cool," said Larson, who drives the No. 42 Target Chevy for Chip Ganassi Racing. "He's only been racing for less than 10 years. … It's always taken him a year or two to get things rolling where he can be consistent and figure out how to win, but once he does, he's as good as it gets. "In sprint cars it took him three years, probably, and now he's considered a favorite every time he goes to the race track. He'll learn a lot throughout this year of Truck racing, and hopefully by the end of the year he'll be consistently in the Top 10." Maybe even beginning weekend at Eldora . "I'm very lucky to be doing all this stuff," Abreu said. "I just wish I was doing better, to be honest. I haven't had the best results this year. But we're close. I just need to put a whole night together, and really feel like Eldora could be the turning point of my season."
Larson to run Camping World Truck race at Eldora
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson will return to the Camping World Truck Series, and to the dirt, when the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver competes for GMS Racing in next week's stop at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Excited to be running @EldoraSpeedway with @GMSRacingLLC and @DCSolar . Gonna try to not hit the wall as much!! pic.twitter.com/lc0t6gF5Az — Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) July 14, 2016 The Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20th (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM). It will be just the second Truck Series start this year for Larson, 23, and his 12th overall in the series. He finished fourth with the GMS team earlier this season at Martinsville Speedway . Larson has two previous Truck starts at Eldora , finishing second in 2013 and 26th the following year. The well-known dirt track was also the site of a record-equaling run by the Elk Grove, California, native. In 2011, Larson became only the second driver to win all three races on the same night in the Four Crown Nationals. "We ran three different types of cars there in one night -- Midget, non-wing Sprint cars and Silver Crown," he said. "That was my first time at Eldora . I won a Midget race the next year there and then I've crashed really hard there a couple of times. "It's a cool, historic race track with very prestigious races going on there. … If I could win a Truck race there it would be pretty special." His 26th-place finish in '14 is misleading. The young driver was battling with eventual race winner Darrell Wallace Jr . in the closing laps when he continued to make hard contact with the wall, damaging his truck and taking him out of contention. It likely played a role in his decision not to return to the event as a driver last season. "I don't know; I honestly didn't have a ton of fun" he said of the '14 effort. "It was slick and slow. I guess I made it exciting to watch on TV, hitting the wall and stuff. … This year with Rico (Abreu) running and (Christopher) Bell being in it, and I thought there would be some more of those guys in it, I just thought it'd be fun to get back out and run the race again. "I'm hoping it rains a lot before the race so the track can be wet and sticky and rough." GMS Racing fields fulltime entries for drivers Johnny Sauter and Spencer Gallagher as well as additional entries for a variety of drivers. Larson said talks earlier in the year enabled him to land the Martinsville ride and that at the time the group had "a few other races that were options I could run. I chose Eldora as one of them. "GMS is a really good team, they have really great trucks, great people there," he said, "and an awesome race shop." DC Solar, which sponsors Chip Ganassi Racing driver Brennan Poole in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, will sponsor the Larson entry at Eldora . The company also sponsored Poole in last year's Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Larson is winless in Sprint Cup competition, but has four wins in the XFINITY Series and one victory in the Camping World Truck Series.
Drivers gear up for a night on dirt at Eldora
Dirt-track experience isn't a must for those competing in this week's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby, at Eldora Speedway . But it certainly doesn't hurt. "I think that it's very beneficial to have dirt experience when you're running hot laps and when you're qualifying," Tyler Reddick , driver of the No. 29 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing, told NASCAR.com. "And a little bit in the heat race, depending on which heat race you're in -- if you're in the first (heat), the track will be a little wetter than it will be in the sixth and it probably means more. "Definitely as you get into the feature, the dirt experience doesn't mean as much, but I'd hate to say it doesn't mean much because if you look at the top three at the end of the race last year, three of the dirt guys in that race (finished) 1-2-3. So I'd hate to tell you that it doesn't mean a lot." Christopher Bell ( Kyle Busch Motorsports), Bobby Pierce (MB Motorsports) and Reddick took the top three spots in last year's annual pilgrimage to the historic Rossburg, Ohio, venue. Bell came up through the USAC circuit, competing in sprints before making the transition to NASCAR and asphalt. Pierce went the Late Model route as did Reddick, each grooming himself for the next step. Reddick is currently seventh in points and seeking his first win of the season. He finished 11th at Eldora in 2014 before his third-place run a year ago. The 11th stop of the season for the series is scheduled to get underway at 9 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Keeping up with the changing track conditions is crucial, Reddick said, but it's also easy to out-think oneself. "One of my mistakes last year was relying on what the old Eldora would have done," he said. "They watered the bottom pretty good last year in that race and I started up toward the front. I made the mistake of going to the top too soon. The bottom hung around for I felt like 20-25 laps. It may not have been that long but it felt that way because I was getting freight trained because I went to the top too soon and everyone was passing me on the bottom. "I guess that's the new Eldora , with less banking the bottom sticks around a bit longer." Two-time series champion Matt Crafton and John Hunter Nemechek , this year's Atlanta race winner, are among the few in the field that have run well consistently at the half-mile track, logging top-10 finishes each season. "Hopefully we break into that top five, maybe top three," Nemechek said. "I felt like we had a great truck last year; we got behind on a couple of adjustments on the first break, (then) we made our truck better." This year's 150-lap feature will be run in three segments of 40, 50 and 60 laps. There will be a competition caution between each segment. "I think that will play a major part in who gambles and who doesn't for track position, when to come take tires," Nemechek said of the format. "Do you take tires both times or stay out and come in for the last one? It's going to put a whole different perspective on it and a whole different strategy for each team." Reddick said he's a fan of the longer final segment but agreed with Nemechek's assessment of varying pit strategies. Track position will likely be key, he said, adding that "as much fun as it is to race there and as easy as you would think it would be to pass, it's actually pretty hard to pass there. "Track position is important. ... The tires are pretty bullet-proof but you can still wear them out I'm sure."
Larson cooks up Eldora confidence, targets Indy
RELATED: Eldora's big night in photos ROSSBURG, Ohio -- While the differences between Eldora Speedway , a dirt-based short track/slice of heaven, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway , a relatively flat, wide and paved 2.5 miles of paradise, couldn't be more stark in contrast, there could be something that Wednesday night's Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby winner Kyle Larson will take with him two hours due west to "The Brickyard" -- c onfidence. "Any time you can win, it helps your confidence, for sure," Larson said after picking up his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory since 2013 in his third attempt at capturing one of the series' crown-jewel races. "Obviously it's way different; a half-mile dirt track to a 2(.5)-mile paved track, but confidence is key for any athlete." Larson has shown flashes of on-track brilliance in the Sprint Cup Series at times this season -- when given a car capable of working with him, rather than against him -- but his third full-time campaign has largely been a disappointment for a phenom still in search of his first premier series victory. Wednesday's landmark win, coupled with a successful recent test at one of auto racing's handful of race track meccas have the young driver seemingly destined for a successful weekend at IMS, riding a wave of momentum and increased faith in himself and his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet team. His two top-10 finishes in two Brickyard starts don't hurt, either. "I tested Indy last week; really good test, I thought," said Larson, who is 19th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings. "Really excited about this weekend. I know our team and Hendrick engines, they have some good stuff coming in and we'll see how it goes. … "We've gotten a lot better on the Cup side since the beginning of the year. We struggled really bad; we were one of the worst cars on the race track the beginning of the year. The last few months, now, we've come close a couple times. Kansas we ran up front. About Kansas time we really turned it up and ran top five most of that race, (before we) got in a wreck. Shortly after Kansas, Larson came within an intentional move of race-winner Matt Kenseth for the victory at Dover. He chose not to -- which sparked plenty of hot takes on Twitter but was almost undeniably the right decision -- and it appeared the No. 42 squad was on the right path, but it has stumbled a bit of late. Wednesday's second-place finisher Christopher Bell called Larson "the most talented guy I've ever seen, hands down," so it's only a matter of time that his talent pushes him to Victory Lane, as long as his No. 42 Chevy has the kind of drive in it that he's looking for. According to the driver, it certainly sounds like it does. "We have speed now in our cars, our Chip Ganassi Racing cars, the past few weeks, just haven't had the luck, I guess," Larson said. "We've just gotta keep working hard. We have some good tracks coming up for us." And it all starts at Indy.
William Byron bracing for Eldora dirt debut
RELATED: Eight drivers to watch at Eldora This week's NASCAR Camping World Truck series stop, the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway , will be the dirt debut for series points leader William Byron. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver is in his first full season in the series and recently spent some time getting accustomed to making the transition from asphalt to dirt, shaking down a Late Model entry with teammate Christopher Bell. "That's really about it," Byron, 18, said of his dirt-track experience. "It went well; I liked it a lot. "It was a lot different, a lot of the things were the opposite way of how we do them on asphalt. It was interesting." Wednesday night's feature is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The 150-lap race format will consist of three segments of 40, 50 and 60 laps. In spite of his limited non-asphalt experience, Byron hasn't tempered his expectations for this week's race. "I think it's going to be a lot of learning the first half of the race," he said. "The last half, if we can have the truck together and have good track position I think we can go for the win. "I think it's all about just getting yourself in the right position for the last 60 laps and being able to figure out which line to take, figure out where the grip is on the race track as it changes with the dirt." Winning appears to have come easily for Byron, who has scored victories this year at Kansas, Texas, Iowa and Kentucky. The Kansas win came in just his fifth start in the series. That quick adaptation to tracks he'd rarely seen and the surprising success have been the result of "having the right tools and the right focus going to the race track," he said. "I think our team is adapting well also. We've been able to bring something that's pretty close to the track. That we're able to fire off and get better in practice is the biggest key. I think we always end practice pretty happy this year, that's really the most important part. Just learning the track and getting up to speed as quickly as I can and then making adjustments to make sure we're ready to go come race time." Byron leads two-time series champion Matt Crafton (ThorSport Racing) by 13 points. The two are the only drivers thus far to have clinched spots in this year's inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase. The seven-race, championship-determining playoff will feature eight teams competing through three rounds. It will kick off later this season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway .
Aspen Dental to sponsor annual dirt track race at Eldora
Eldora Speedway announced Friday that Aspen Dental will sponsor the Ohio dirt track's annual race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The fourth annual 150-lap race, the only NASCAR national series event on a dirt speedway , is scheduled July 20 (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The track discontinued the Mudsummer Classic name in the offseason because of a conflict with Major League Baseball's "Midsummer Classic" name for its annual All-Star Game. NASCAR returned to dirt-track racing with the inaugural truck event at Eldora in 2013, marking the first national series race on dirt since 1970. Friday's announcement coincided with a media event at Talladega Superspeedway featuring Danica Patrick -- who drives the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Chevrolet with Aspen Dental sponsorship -- and Tony Stewart , who purchased the Eldora track in 2004. Aspen Dental is in the midst of a five-year partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing . The East Syracuse, New York-based business increased its backing of Patrick's efforts this season, doubling its role as primary sponsor to four NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2016.