The race was anticipated for months and on Wednesday night the show did not disappoint as Austin Dillon won NASCAR's return to dirt track racing. He took the victory in the Inaugural Mudsummer Classic for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the half-mile Eldora Speedway.
Dillon got the lead in his No. 39 Chevrolet from Kyle Larson when the two were in lap traffic on lap 89 of the scheduled 150. The race was extended to 153 laps with a green-white-checkered finish where Dillon had to hold off one last effort from the field to win his fifth career Truck Series race.
"It's amazing man," Dillon said in victory lane. "I love this dirt racing, it's so much fun…this is real racing right here that's all I got to say."
Austin Dillon led the final 64 laps after starting from 19th. Kyle Larson seemed to have the fastest truck on the night and was disappointed with his second place finish saying that he believed he had the fastest truck but just couldn't get good restarts on the bottom line late in the race.
The night started in the early evening when Ken Schrader became the oldest pole winner in NASCAR at the age of 58. Then it was onto the five qualifying heat races made up of seven trucks each. In the eight lap races there would be four drivers locked into the main event race and three drivers looking to gain the one transfer position.
Ken Schrader was able to show the way in heat 1 and take the win and also the transfer position. In heat 2 Jared Landers, a dirt modified driver for Clint Bowyer's team, was able to win and advance. Heat 3 went to Timothy Peters and the transfer driver was Kyle Larson, who finished third. Kenny Wallace won heat 4 with Max Gresham gabbing the transfer spot and heat 5 was won by Jeb Burton with Ryan Newman transferring in.
That set up a last chance qualifying race with 10 trucks. The top five would advance to the main event to set the 30 truck field. JR Heffner, who finished second to Schrader in heat 1, was on the pole but broke something on the start which stacked things up. Brennan Newberry was in the right line and came out with the lead. The caution would come out on lap 11 of 15 for a spin by Jimmy Weller who was working the low line trying to gain the transfer spot. In the closing lap Norm Benning and Clay Greenfield battled hard and Greenfield hit Benning multiple times. The two trucks both slammed up into the outside wall off Turn 4 but it was Benning who was able to hold onto finish fifth.
The five transfer drivers were Newberry, Jeff Babcock, Jason Bowles, Justin Jennings, and Norm Benning. The five drivers that missed the main event were Clay Greenfield, Jimmy Weller, Joe Cobb, Bryan Silas, and JR Heffner.
That set up the Mudsummer Classic which was run in segments of 60, 50, and 40 laps. The parade lap was an amazing thing to see with the trucks doing a four-wide parade lap while fireworks went off. Ken Schrader led the field to green with Jared Landers second. Schrader got off to a nice start but was under pressure from Dave Blaney and then Timothy Peters.
On lap 16 Peters made the pass on Schrader and Blaney followed as well. Kyle Larson meanwhile was already up to fifth from his 13th starting position. On lap 30 the running order was Peters, Dave Blaney, Larson, Jared Landers, and Ken Schrader. On lap 35 Larson moved past Blaney for second.
By lap 39 the 20-year old Larson, who's racing background comes from dirt tracks, was able to take the lead.
On lap 54 Austin Dillon made some contact with Scott Bloomquist while trying to lap him which made debris fall off Bloomquist's truck. That brought out the first caution. The trucks were still under the caution when lap 60 hit which ended the first segment. All the trucks were able to pit and make changes and then return to the track in the same running order.
That running order for the lap 61 restart was Larson, Blaney, Peters, Austin Dillon, and Landers. Lap 63 saw Jeff Babcock retire from the race with an engine issue. He finished 30th.
By lap 89 Larson was deep into lap traffic and he made contact with German Quiroga which caused his truck to jump sideways. Austin Dillon pounced and took the lead. Right when Larson passed Dillon back on lap 90 the second caution flew for debris on the track. At the previous scoring loop Dillon was in the lead which gave him the outside line for the ensuing lap 97 restart where he led over Larson, Blaney, Ryan Newman, and Peters.
Newman was able to jump to second using the outside advantage. Larson worked back past Newman on lap 102 and ran down Dillon for the lead quickly. He dogged him for several laps until the third caution came out after lap 110 for the end of the second segment. Pit stops again occurred without positions changing.
For the lap 111 restart with 40 scheduled laps to go Dillon led over Larson, Newman, Blaney, and Brendan Gaughan. The fourth caution would fly on lap 114 when Jared Landers spun out. He then clipped Ty Dillon sending Dillon spinning into the outside wall on the backstretch. Johnny Sauter also ran into Landers and Jeb Burton into Sauter. Sauter broke the radiator and he finished 29th. Ty Dillon and Burton continued but finished 16th and 18th. Landers battled back to finish in 12th.
The race restarted on lap 124 with Austin Dillon still leading over Larson. Newman made the jump to second on the restart once again and he tailed Dillon closely for the next several laps with Kyle Larson right on him. It looked like it would be a three truck race to the finish but then on lap 139 with only 11 scheduled laps to go the fifth caution flew for debris.
The race restarted on lap 145 with five to go and Dillon again got a good restart. Newman and Larson had a terrific battle side-by-side through two ends of the track with Larson prevailing. He was charging in on Dillon's lead when the caution came out on lap 148 for more debris. That sixth and final caution brought about a green-white-checkered finish.
Dillon again got the good restart on the top and drove off as Larson again battled hard on the inside of Newman and prevailed for second.
Austin Dillon can forever say he won the first ever NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on dirt and NASCAR's return to a dirt track that broke a 43 year stretch without any.
Ryan Newman finished third, and Joey Coulter took fourth as the highest finishing Truck Series regular driver. Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top five. Timothy Peters was sixth, Darrell Wallace Jr seventh, Matt Crafton eighth, Dave Blaney ninth, and Max Gresham tenth. Dakoda Armstrong was 11th, Jared Landers 12th, Tracy Hines 13th, Ken Schrader 14th, Ryan Blaney 15th, Ty Dillon 16th, Kenny Wallace 17th, Jeb Burton 18th, James Buescher 19th, and German Quiroga 20th. Miguel Paludo was the last lead lap truck in 21st. John Wes Townley was 22nd, Justin Jennings 23rd, Jason Bowles 24th, Scott Bloomquist 25th, Norm Benning 26th, Brennan Newberry 27th, Ron Hornaday Jr 28th, Johnny Sauter 29th, and Jeff Babcock 30th.
It was a good points night for Matt Crafton as his points lead is now 48 points over Jeb Burton. James Buescher is third 51 points back. Ty Dillon is fourth, Johnny Sauter fifth, Timothy Peters sixth, Brendan Gaughan seventh, Ryan Blaney eighth, Darrell Wallace Jr ninth, and Miguel Paludo tenth.
The next race up for the Truck Series is at Pocono Raceway on August 3rd.Tags: Austin Dillon, Camping World Truck Series, Dave Blaney, Eldora Speedway, Jared Landers, Jeb Burton, Joey Coulter, Ken Schrader, Kyle Larson, Motorsports, NASCAR, Norm Benning, Ryan Newman, Timothy Peters, Ty Dillon