Tonight's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series CarCash Mudsummer Classic on the dirt track at Eldora Speedway is "the most-anticipated race in the 18-year history" of the racing series, and has "become one of the most-discussed events of the entire NASCAR season," according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. NASCAR for the last 43 years "firmly has been a pavement series," but dirt track racing "remains popular on a local level." Sprint Cup Driver Brad Keselowski, who occasionally drives in the Truck Series and fields two trucks as an owner, said, "It will either be by far one of the coolest and best races we've ever seen or the dumbest thing we have ever done in NASCAR" (USA TODAY, 7/23). NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce noted as many as 40 races each season were "held at dirt tracks during the early years" of NASCAR, but by '70, "only three were run on dirt" (NASCAR.com, 7/23). Eldora Speedway Owner and NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart said, "It's the first time for something like this. It's the first time for that vehicle, the first time for that series. It's totally wide open. Nobody knows what to expect." USA TODAY's Nate Ryan writes tonight's race will be the "among the most scrutinized in NASCAR." Eldora's 17,700-seat grandstands have been "sold out for almost six months, and the track has credentialed 130 media members for tonight -- a 50% increase over the previous record" at Eldora. Many upgrades were "needed to meet the sanctioning body's standards for a national race, including the addition of a temporary media center, an infield care center and new parking lots." Stewart: "I'm excited that they've looked outside the box and given us this opportunity. ... When you're trying to build an event like this that hasn't been done for 40 years, you want it to be right" (USA TODAY, 7/24).
WORTH THE WAIT? SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass wrote tonight's race will be a "great event, but it won’t be the cure for the sport's ills or the greatest thing to happen" since NASCAR last raced on dirt in '70. It would be "foolhardy to guarantee that this will be a great race with a big impact on the sport." There is a "big question of whether the Eldora race will be worthwhile financially after the initial enthusiasm wears off." NASCAR is "trying to make it successful for the track, but anyone who thinks that the track is going to be bathing in cash or hoping for a Cup race in the future, forget about it." Still, NASCAR is "desperate for something to connect to its roots," and the event has "raised the energy level for a series that badly needs it." But NASCAR’s "fan of the future doesn’t want an experience so authentic that they have to wash their clothes twice to get the dirt out" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/23). In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly writes, "Let's see how this goes -- or blows." If it is "a success ... we'll see more of it" (NEWS-JOURNALONLINE.com, 7/23). FOXSPORTS.com's Jeff Hammond wrote, "I hope this race might open the door to some new fans for the Truck Series" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/23).
BLAME IT ALL ON MY ROOTS: In Tennessee, Allen Gregory writes tonight's race is "basically an attempt by NASCAR officials to breathe some much needed nourishment into their roots." It has "already overshadowed Sunday’s high-stakes" Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For a sport "needing a B12 shot of energy, some unscripted action at a roots-racing cathedral might be as much fun as unwrapping a mysterious present" (BRISTOL HERALD COURIER, 7/24). ESPN.com's David Newton wrote the race is as "anticipated as much for the uncertainty of how the trucks will perform as the historical significance." It could "range from being the greatest show the series has seen in years to a train wreck." In "some ways, it is like the first Cup race" at IMS. There is the "curiosity factor that creates more interest" (ESPN.com, 7/23). Driver Ryan Blaney said, "It's hard to say we weren't looking forward to this one. The date has been the 'wild card' all season long for our team, knowing it's going to be a wild one out there" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/24).
MAN BEHIND THE MAN: FOXSPORTS.com's Tom Jensen noted Eldora Speedway GM Roger Slack was "reportedly offered a position to work on the planned Formula One race in New Jersey, but turned it down to come to Eldora instead." Stewart said, "I’m more than confident in Roger and our staff up there that they’ve got everything squared away and ready to go and prepared" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/22).