ROSSBURG, Ohio — Austin Dillon won the first NASCAR national touring series race on dirt in 43 years Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway.
Dillon powered from 19th in the 30-car field and drove his grandfather Richard Childress’ Chevrolet to victory in the inaugural Mudsummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race before a sold out crowd of more than 25,000 at the historic half-mile oval owned by Tony Stewart and built by Earl Baltes.
Dillon took the lead from Kyle Larson as the pair raced through lapped traffic on the 89th lap and Larson got into the lapped truck of German Quiroga. Dillon led the rest of the race in the 153-lap race that was broken up into three segments of 60, 50 and 40 laps with the final run extended by three laps to accommodate a green-white-checkered finish.
“It is amazing,” said Dillon, who credited veteran late model driver and Dillon Racing employee Dale McDowell for teaching him to race on dirt. “I love dirt racing. It is so much fun. I want to thank Tony Stewart and NASCAR for coming here. We have had an up and down season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season and we needed this win.
“This is real racing right here. That is all I have to say.”
Larson fought a torrid war with Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Ryan Newman through the closing laps of the race with the pair bouncing off one another multiple times and Larson getting the runner-up finish.
“We had the best truck for sure,” said Larson, who won three USAC open-wheel races at Eldora in a single day back in 2011. “Our Clorox Chevy was the best. I got overly excited in lapped traffic and got into the back of somebody and Austin was able to get around me…I kept screwing up my shifts on the restarts. I used my teammate (Newman) up there a little bit, but I knew we had the fastest truck here tonight, but we finished second. I wanted to win the first Truck race at Eldora.”
Newman finished third despite struggling with his brakes during the final laps.
“I had brakes, but it took five or six pumps,” Newman said. “You don’t need brakes here anyway, it is just a confidence builder.”
With Chevrolets sweeping the top three positions, Joey Coulter finished fourth in a Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, while Brendan Gaughan was fifth in another Chevrolet.
Matt Crafton finished eighth and leads the Camping World Truck Series standings by 48 points over Jeb Burton.
Ken Schrader was the fast qualifier and started on the pole after winning the first heat. He faded during the closing laps of the race.
At the end of the night the racing was above average and there were far fewer yellow flags than most expected.