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Cheers and Jeers

Mudsummer Classic - Expectations Obliterated!
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By Carol Einarsson | 07/26/2013
Category: Cheers and Jeers
 


Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Imagesfor NASCAR.


CHEERS to the 43-year drought broken as a NASCAR top tier series returns to dirt!

CHEERS to Ken Schrader fastest in qualifying. Back in his element, he's sure to shine. Rather than chasing the big teams in Cup, they've now come to chase HIM. Good luck with that. And his spotter? Yes, that would be David Stremme.

CHEERS to Tony Stewart for making this happen and to Steve O'Donnell for not letting the status quo just continue on unchallenged.

CHEERS to heat races. Yes, it's pretty normal for all of you who follow dirt racing, have a history in dirt racing, and even attend local dirt track races near home, but I came late to NASCAR and was introduced to the top level first. Sure, over the years, we went to some local races, but it was never a regular thing.

CHEERS to JR Hefner's slide being the rule rather than the exception. This is gonna be big fun tonight! I'm already worried, though... will there be any JEERS ?

CHEERS to Matt Crafton's "inside line" against the wall. Any other time we'd think he had a problem. A cut tire, an overheating engine... what's got him down there like that? Oh! It's his preferred line!

JEERS to some kind of flying debris and not being dangerous to fans.

CHEERS to the genuine smile of Schrader at a dirt track. Again we're reminded of the best racing quote ever, "I'll race until my buddies can't lift me into the car; and I'll get younger buddies if I have to."

CHEERS also to Kenny Wallace's admiration of his brother from another mother.

JEERS to writing a big check without telling your wife, but CHEERS to JEGS bailing him out. Oh, and CHEERS to Rick Allen, "Kim, sorry you had to find out the check was written on TV." Well, there've been worse things wives have learned during a race broadcast.

CHEERS to "The Other Dillon." We know Austin has a lot of talent, and we expect Ty does, too. We just hope Ty will be able to come out from his brother's shadow (and heaven knows, with that hat, the shadow's even bigger!).

JEERS to two 39 cars in that race. How is that possible? Yes, this is why I have an assistant -- and why I wear glasses. Turns out Ryan Newman's in the 34, not a second 39 car.

CHEERS to heat races with small fields. This is just simply... FANTASTIC!! The running order goes by so quickly, they never have to stop in the middle, and if you miss something, just wait 10 seconds.

CHEERS to at least one guy in each race trying that Matt Crafton line.

JEERS to the description of Ty Dillon getting into Johnny Sauter. No, no... it was really more as the booth described it: "That's just where he landed!"

CHEERS to the first time I've heard Jeb (as an adult) speak. Yeah, he's got a good bit of Ward's diction in 'im. And we LIKE that.

CHEERS to a welding mask under a truck.

CHEERS to Brennan Newberry, "I gotta thank Tony Stewart of Eldora Speedway..." That was just charming! In his world, that's who Tony Stewart is, and in his world, you thank the track owners and promoters. Tony Stewart of Eldora Speedway.

CHEERS to father/son Blaneys!

CHEERS to all the talk about dirt and NASCAR and midweek racing, too!

CHEERS to a Last Chance Qualifier. Why can't all NASCAR races be this way? We could do a one-day deal. Heat qualifiers then the race. Imagine a Cup race shortened up, qualified this way, and then run all in the same day!

CHEERS also to all the drivers in the LCQ -- all the heat race losers that are DESPERATE now to get into the race! And on dirt. At night. That's every component you need to make great racing!

CHEERS to Ken Schrader, Jared Landers, Timothy Peters, Kenny Wallace, and Jeb Burton for winning their heats, and of course to Brennan Newberry on the LCQ win!

CHEERS to the interview with Clay Greenfield who didn't make the race despite his valiant efforts against Norm (You're number one!) Benning. It didn't work out for him to make the race, but seriously, this is dirt and your sponsor was 1-800-Pavement! What expectations could you have reasonably held? And then he says he felt like Norm took the race away from him? Yeah, he pulled my heartstrings, looking like he was about to cry, but still, 61-year-old Norm Benning just schooled a driver half his age -- and then flipped him off! Yeah, we need more dirt races!

CHEERS to as many as five other teams coming to the assistance of Norm to get that truck race-worthy! That used to happen in Cup racing, and hearing Stevie Waltrip tell the stories of it will make you long (even more) for those "good ol' days."

CHEERS to Bob Dillner and his mallet whacking the dirt that had transformed itself to a race track.

CHEERS to corn fields and all the good that comes from them. See why we love the Midwest? Not just great race tracks popping up in a cornfield, but if not for corn mash, would we have NASCAR? Think about THAT, why don't you! And while we're talkin' a bit about moonshine, do you know any other moms that would buy a quart of shine for her boy for his birthday? No, I didn't think so. But when I happened upon Junior Johnson's stock at my local Walgreens (yes, Walgreens... Moonshine is medicinal, y'know!), I couldn't resist getting a jar for the assistant who just enjoyed his 22nd birthday.

CHEERS to Earl Baltes building Eldora up to the track that it is, and then agreeing to sell it to Tony Stewart.

CHEERS to interviewing a dirt track fan that was at the race, a guy named Mike Helton.

CHEERS to no stage for driver intros. Old school simple right there. Strip it down, keep it simple, sit on the grass, and watch the show. That's really all we need.

CHEERS to Jared Landers starting on the front row in his first truck race, next to Ken Schrader in his 27,000th dirt race.

CHEERS to Scott Bloomquist and his long hair. That's a dirt racer right there.

CHEERS to Icky Thump (sorry, never heard of you). This land is GOOD land!

CHEERS to grass overflow seats. Who needs grandstands, really? They just put a few walking paths between tiers of grass and it's all good.

CHEERS to Jim Lanning of MRO for a fantastic invocation! But....

CHEERS and a WOW! to the St. Henry High School Band! We know the sound wasn't terrific on TV, but we're calling this the second best anthem of the year. And also voting for EVERY anthem for EVERY NASCAR race be performed by either military or a local high school.

CHEERS to the four-wide parade lap giving us a feeling that Mayhem has just arrived at Eldora and he's just waiting...

CHEERS again to that crazy inside line we'll call the Matt Crafton County Road. He's in the only lane on the track that still retains the appearance of dirt.

CHEERS to future superstar Kyle Larson showing the rest of the field just how varied his racing talents are!

CHEERS to truck #93, retired, but brought back for this race with the idea that it was okay if Timothy Peters returned it to the shop in pieces. And now that old discarded truck is in the lead? Hello, Pixar? We have the Cars 3 script written for you!

JEERS to one of the greatest dirt racers getting lapped. I guess that front sway bar he had removed was more important than he thought.

CHEERS to Ryan Newman in fifth! We're on the fence here, though. On the one hand, it would be a beautiful thing for Ryan Newman to win at Tony Stewart's track! Get all the money from him that you can, while you can. But on the other hand, this tremendous historic race, trucks on dirt, won by a Cup driver? That just won't make good headlines.

CHEERS to no races off pit road. Imagine a world where in the NASCAR Cup Series, there was no gain or loss of position while in the pits. Come in, do what you have to do, and then we'll line up again and restart. No more races won because someone took two tires instead of four, dodged the timing lines just the right way, or picked the right pit box. Green flag pits, you're on your own; but under caution, you can't gain anything in the pits. Think of how much safer that would be, too!

CHEERS to pit lane, as well. No wall, but none needed. Just drive till you see guys standing around dressed the same as you, and park.

CHEERS to Yokohama's commercial, "Duck, Duck, Goose!" The assistant was surprised I'd never seen it, but it's a gem!

CHEERS to Tony Stewart, clean shaven when he's a track owner.

CHEERS to "talking about it" not being so effective for Ty Dillon and Johnny Sauter, but CHEERS to Ty Dillon maybe finding a bit of extra speed just because he's afraid of Sauter, so he needs to get away!

CHEERS to trucks smashing together and no yellow. Caution-schmaution.

CHEERS to the radio transmission, "There'd better be debris!!!" Well, we have to admit, we don't care if there is or isn't. We love the irony of a fake debris caution at Tony Stewart's track, though, but anything to make this last longer, we're okay with that.

CHEERS to a race that necessitates the cleaning of the INSIDE of the windshield!

CHEERS to still having an AT&T race break, but that graphic against the backdrop of Eldora looked a little like George Jetson pulling up to a rodeo.

JEERS to losing your scoring transponder, but again, CHEERS to no harm done because nobody's losing any spots under caution!

CHEERS to the "uniform" for Austin Dillon's crew chief. Yeah, Danny Stockman's sitting around in a T-shirt.

CHEERS to "the big one" on dirt! Yeah, we could get used to this pretty easily.

JEERS to only now seeing the Mark Martin Automotive decals on the #6 truck! Classic!

CHEERS to the optimism of Jared Landers that he could shake off that crazy big piece of whatever. We think it was his own bumper that decided it would rather be vertical than horizontal, but for a time there, it almost appeared to be the rear bumper of someone else that he was carrying around!

CHEERS to baseball bats taken to Johnny Sauter's truck. Unfortunately, though, you can't exactly fix a cracked radiator that way.

CHEERS to Schrader passing five trucks on a restart. Fifth place, now, 21 to go.

CHEERS to Dillon, Newman, and Larson in the front with 17 to go, and the hard racing between positions two and three. Ryan Newman and Kyle Larson are door to door, almost stuck to each other!! That was a great battle!!

CHEERS to attendance and not a soul leaving early. It sold out immediately when it was announced, the crowds are overflowing, and let's not forget... this is a TRUCK race!! NASCAR, are you listening?

JEERS to reminding ANY driver that he's not there racing for points! Pretty sure he knows that.

CHEERS to Austin Dillon winning the return to the dirt for Grandpa. What a nice, nice thing for Richard Childress to have in his trophy case -- a jar of dirt! And yes, CHEERS to dirt trophies!! Indy has brick-kissing, but Eldora has a driver with a shovel while his crew gathers round.

And finally,

CHEERS to expectations not met, but rather expectations obliterated! My assistant has social media glued to his hand, and while we were watching, Twitter and Facebook were lit up with the joy of race fans everywhere! "Add fifty laps! We don't want it to end!" It was the first experience for a lot of people to see dirt track racing, and it was a very nice return for a lot of others. There simply were no losers in this deal. Local dirt tracks will surely see a new surge, NASCAR's eyes are opened to new possibilities, and Cup drivers are even talking about midweek racing and adding a dirt track to the schedule. CHEERS to NASCAR for opening this door and giving it a try. It's time to go back and revisit what made this a great sport in the first place. It wasn't money or glamour or anything else that is common in today's NASCAR world. Give the winner a jar of dirt as the prize, let the fans sit on the grass, and don't overbuild the grand stands. It's a simple formula, really, and now NASCAR has seen how well it works! Wednesday night, we may have witnessed the catalyst for a new (old) NASCAR to the same degree that four words changed the sport in 1979: And there's a fight!

Share  

 

Comments:
Mr. O
07/26/2013 4:18 am (1)
CHEERS to a race that had me interested and excited the entire time.

CHEERS to the first few laps where there were trucks everywhere in every groove.

CHEERS to coverage that couldn't keep up with the action, and didn't just focus on the leaders.

CHEERS to the illustration of how far NASCAR has fallen. The elimination of most short tracks in the name of attendance, removing seats from existing tracks to they can once again "sell out", cookie-cutter tracks, aero-dependent cars, tires that are not conducive to competitive racing, etc.

I've said it many times, and here it is again: Remove the spoilers, splitters, and noses, go to a smaller tire that gives up speed, and let the drivers actually drive the cars.

JEERS to me being less optimistic than Carol that this race signals a change for NASCAR.

CHEERS to being on dirt making it possible to make contact right front to left rear with nobody spinning out, just getting a little crossed up and correcting.
Bill B
07/26/2013 6:55 am (2)
Loved the race. Not sure it obliterated my expectations. Having never seen a dirt race I didn't know what to expect. The way they hyped it didn't obliterate my expectations. To me it was just another great short track race. Some observations:

My favorite races are the Martinsville races. I didn't think the Eldora race was any more interesting than Martinsville. In fact I thought there is more beating and banging at Martinsville. The moral here is... more short tracks would be nice.

They were calling the race "Mudsummer" so I was expecting more mud. I didn't see any really. Not even on the tire sidewalls. I felt it was misleading to stress the "mud" and then not see lots of mud.

Better start that race earlier next year or cut out some of the fluff because 11:30 on a school night isn't going to fly. I thought the qualifying heat races could have been done in an hour instead of dragging it out for two.

Having never seen the field set by heat races I must say, I hope they never do that in the cup series. I'd hate to see my driver's car get beat up before the race starts just to qualify. That would pretty much kill the car before the race started.

With all that said it was a lot of fun to watch. Interesting from beginning to end. I hope they do it again next year.

BNP
07/26/2013 12:00 pm (3)
CHEERS to all the local dirt tracks. You can go there and see this every Friday and/or Saturday night. Mine is Lebanon Valley Speedway and it is more exciting than most of the NASCAR races are today.
possum
07/26/2013 2:38 pm (4)
Hi Carol,

You wrote: "JEERS to two 39 cars in that race. How is that possible?"

LOL. That's actually common in dirt racing - you might have a #1, a #1X, a #1J, a #1MC... It doesn't bother anyone.

Also you wrote: "CHEERS to heat races with small fields."

JEERS to heat races that don't mean anything. Having a 6 car race where 4 of them are already "locked into" the main event is just silly. Everyone should have to transfer based on their finish in their heat.

And you wrote: "CHEERS to at least one guy in each race trying that Matt Crafton line."

JEERS to the track being dry slick (and later black slick) so the Matt Crafton line had no chance of working. I know what Stewart was trying to do with the track preparation, but I think he made a mistake with it.

Plus you wrote: "CHEERS to father/son Blaneys!"

CHEERS to Dave showing folks how it's done on the dirt.

You also wrote: "CHEERS to a Last Chance Qualifier. Why can't all NASCAR races be this way?"

That'd suit me :-) (actually, it wouldn't if they were _all_ that way. But it would be good to run some of the races as heats, B-main, A-main. Maybe do it at some of the cookie-cutter tracks, where the racing tends to be so boring).

CHEERS to Norm Benning. JEERS that the Fox/Speed guys have probably never even mentioned his name before now.

And also you wrote: "CHEERS to Scott Bloomquist and his long hair. That's a dirt racer right there."

LOL. Seems you haven't heard the Bloomquist story.

Additionally you wrote: "CHEERS to the four-wide parade lap"

Seems the NASCAR guys need a little practice at that. The WoO are a lot more orderly (which, in a 1500lb car with 900HP and no clutch, takes some doing).

You further wrote: "CHEERS to no races off pit road. Imagine a world where in the NASCAR Cup Series, there was no gain or loss of position while in the pits."

Don't have to imagine it, I've seen it. That was one of the variations back in 1991 (? I think that was the year of the window stickers). It was not popular with either the racers or the fans; eventually NASCAR settled on just the pit-road speed limit as being sufficient for safety.

And you lastly wrote: "CHEERS to expectations not met, but rather expectations obliterated!"

Umm, well, maybe. I was expecting more - I was expecting some mud in the Mudsummer classic (and a multi-groove track, which is the norm for Eldora). I was expecting meaningful heat races. I was expecting NASCAR to allow teams to setup their trucks for dirt (which would have benefitted the drivers with dirt experience). Not bad for a first try, but there's lots of room to be better next year.

John
highbanks24
07/26/2013 2:56 pm (5)
I grew up attending a local dirt track every weekend... so naturally, I loved this.

I am not a fan of Tony Stewart the Nascar driver, but... I am a fan of how well Tony handled this event. Tony did a great job with the track... it was in perfect condition... the trucks could slide around. It reminded me of when my Dad raced... all of that sliding around! So much fun to watch!

CHEERS to Kyle Larson... that kid is a racer!

CHEERS to Austin Dillion on the win... yet, another good racer.

possum
07/26/2013 2:57 pm (6)
@ Carol:

You wrote: "JEERS to one of the greatest dirt racers getting lapped. I guess that front sway bar he had removed was more important than he thought."

Wanted to take a seperate post to talk about this one, because I think there's a few folk here who like the technical stuff.

On dirt, the basic thing is getting drive off the corner; when the driver is sliding with the car at an angle to the direction of the track in the corner, he needs to be able to transition to having the car aligned straight with the track and accelerating down the straight. The right rear tire is critical to that, when the driver gets into the throttle the right rear needs to bite into the track to stop the rear moving sideways, and cause the car to straighten out.

Now, to get the right rear to bite, dirt drivers set their cars up to transfer a lot of weight onto the right rear in the corner. This is why you see dirt late models with the left side all jacked up in the air, or winged sprint cars with the left front tire off the track. Obviously this is very different to pavement racing, where the goal is to minimize weight transfer to the right, and instead keep as much weight as possible on the left side, especially the left front.

So, the CTS at Eldora was basically pavement cars (trucks), racing on dirt, and NASCAR did not let the teams make changes to suit the cars to dirt. You could see the cars were very stiff in the corners, with very little body roll, and very little weight transfer to the right rear; you could hear that the drivers were having to be very careful on the throttle off the corners, and in the interviews the drivers were saying they were looking for more drive off the corners.

What Bloomquist was trying to do, by removing the front sway bar, was to get the car to roll more, and transfer more weight to the right rear. It was a desperation move, but he was well back in the starting order, and if it had worked, he'd have been able to rocket past the other cars coming out of the turns.

Obviously it didn't work. Just taking a guess here, but probably it upset the car worse to be free to roll at the front, but still be stiff at the back; it likely made the car very reluctant to turn in and take a set entering the corner, which would make it slower than ever rather than faster.

I'll give Bloomquist credit for trying something different. It was the first time for everyone with those cars on dirt, so no-one would know what might work, and what might not. That one gets filed in the "not" category.

John
possum
07/26/2013 5:46 pm (7)
@ Bill B:

You wrote: "Having never seen the field set by heat races I must say, I hope they never do that in the cup series."

You've never seen the Daytona 500?

Anyway, aside from that, I agree with you on more short tracks, and I agree with you on more mud.

John

(who seems to be the talky one today)
jem6973
07/26/2013 6:28 pm (8)
CHEERS to a column for the Eldora dirt race

CHEERS for calling Darke County an International Mecca, of course when your a teenager from the suburbs of Washington DC, Darke County is a little boring to what you are used to.

But then again Annie Oakley was from Darke County.
Bill B
07/26/2013 6:54 pm (9)
@possum,
True the Daytona 500 is set by a qualifying heat race except there are provisionals and for the last several years that top 35 rule kind of made it moot. Also, if they wreck the car they have 2 days and 2 more practices left to get their car dialed in. Kind of apples and oranges considering the heat races take place right before the race at most tracks.
Also, great explanation on the rear tire taking the load in order to turn.

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