Drivers Ready For Prelude At Eldora

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Clint Bowyer (33) battles Austin Dillon during preliminary action last year during Prelude to the Dream at Ohio's Eldora Speedway. (Frank Smith photo)
Clint Bowyer (33) battles Austin Dillon during preliminary action last year during Prelude to the Dream at Ohio's Eldora Speedway. (Frank Smith photo)

ROSSBURG, Ohio – Racing stars representing NASCAR, NHRA, IndyCar and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series will battle for dirt supremacy during the Prelude to the Dream tonight at Eldora Speedway.

The annual charity event will be benefit Feed the Children, a U.S.-based charity that domestically has helped more than 365,000 families since 2009 through its Americans Feeding Americans Caravan.

“Having Feed the Children on board, and the fact that we’re trying to feed 16 million children and keep them from feeling hungry each day, is a great, great cause, and it’s a great goal for us and motivation to know why we’re here,” said Eldora Speedway owner Tony Stewart. “As much as we want to have fun, there’s a lot bigger cause here and we’re excited to do this for Feed the Children.”

The 2012 edition of the Prelude To The Dream includes hot laps, qualifying, heat races and a 40-lap feature with double-file “shootout-style” restarts.

For the top-10 finishers in the Prelude To The Dream, Feed The Children will send a food truck to each driver’s hometown or city of choice.

Tony Kanaan of the IZOD IndyCar Series will again compete against Danica Patrick, who in 2012 has made the full transition from IndyCar to NASCAR.

“I’ve heard of Eldora. My dad used to race midgets,” said Patrick, who will be making her first start in a dirt-late-model. “So I’ve heard of all these dirt tracks all over the place. And I’ve been to some of them. But I don’t think I’ve been to Eldora before. I have been to a dirt track before. My sister and I, when we were kids, which was probably kind of why we got into racing, we would go and we’d hang out in the stands and my dad would be working down in the pits because we weren’t old enough to be down there.”

Kanaan and Patrick will rub fenders with two of the best racers from the sprint-car ranks, Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz.

“I’ve made a lot of laps around Eldora the last 30 years but I’ve never done it in a dirt late model,” said 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser. “Heck, I’ve never even raced one anywhere, let alone at Eldora. I’m really not sure what to expect, but Tony (Stewart) will be a pretty big asset. He’s been in a late-model and a winged sprint-car there, before, so I’m sure he can translate some of the similarities. It’s going to be something different, that’s for sure.”

Joining them at Eldora will be a number of NASCAR stars, including Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, defending event winner Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and many others, including a band of brothers: the Busch brothers – Kurt and Kyle – and the Dillon brothers – Austin and Ty.

“It’s been fun to race the Prelude,” said Kyle Busch. “Tony puts on a great show, and it’s always cool. The first year, I remember it was really tacky and you could move all over the place. And then it kind of glazed over and you still raced all over the place. The last couple years it’s been more single-file. You know, you get up along the outside and it’s kind of only one-groovish. I’m trying to make the bottom work and make ground, but momentum is just so important around the top side.”

The full list of drivers taking part in the Prelude to the Dream tonight includes Tony Stewart (NASCAR), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), Clint Bowyer (NASCAR), Ryan Newman (NASCAR), Kasey Kahne (NASCAR), Aric Almirola (NASCAR), Bobby Labonte (NASCAR), Kurt Busch (NASCAR), Kyle Busch (NASCAR), Ty Dillon (NASCAR), Austin Dillon (NASCAR), Danica Patrick (NASCAR), Kenny Wallace (NASCAR), Ken Schrader (NASCAR), Justin Allgaier (NASCAR), Dave Blaney (NASCAR), Bill Elliott (NASCAR), Ray Evernham (NASCAR), David Gilliland (NASCAR), Jason Leffler (NASCAR), J.J. Yeley (NASCAR), Ron Capps (NHRA), Cruz Pedregon (NHRA), Steve Kinser (WoO Sprints), Donny Schatz (WoO Sprints) and Tony Kanaan (IndyCar).