ROSSBURG, Ohio – Chase Briscoe got the defense of his Eldora Dirt Derby victory from a year ago off to a hot start on Wednesday by posting the fastest time across two NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice sessions at Eldora Speedway.
Briscoe topped the first 50-minute session with the best lap of the day, touring the half-mile dirt oval in 19.257 seconds (93.473 mph) with his No. 27 DiaEdge Ford F-150 for ThorSport Racing.
The Mitchell, Ind., native garnered the pole position for the first of five 10-lap heat races on Thursday as a result of his practice speed.
This year’s heat-race lineups are being set by overall practice speeds, as opposed to a dedicated single-truck qualifying session as in years past, and Briscoe said that track position will be critical.
“Today was definitely a good day, and a productive day for us,” noted Briscoe. “I’m proud of everyone at ThorSport for bringing another really fast truck to this place, just like we had here a year ago. To put DiaEdge on the pole (for a heat race) in their first race in the sport is pretty special, as well. Hopefully that’s just the start of what’s to come for us as we get into the day tomorrow.
“I honestly thought I was going to be more rusty than I was, just because I haven’t run any dirt stuff all year,” he added. “I picked it back up pretty quickly, though, even though we parked it (and spun) about 20 minutes into the first session. In the second round, we didn’t start off where I felt like we needed to be, but we were pretty good at the end. We’ll see what tomorrow brings now.
“In the first heat, I do think it will be crucial to start on the front row … and luckily we have that luxury.”
The 15 fastest single-lap speeds of the day were all set during first practice, with the track having slowed significantly by the time the Truck Series returned for final practice following Super DIRTcar Series heats.
Briscoe’s ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton was second-quick overall at 19.381 seconds (92.875 mph) in the No. 88 Menards Ford F-150, and he’ll lead the field to green for the second heat on Thursday.
Brett Moffitt, Stewart Friesen and Sheldon Creed completed the top five on the overall speed charts and will also start on the pole for their respective heat races.
Johnny Sauter, who has noted in the past that he “hates Eldora,” found some much-needed speed on the dirt during practice and landed sixth on the scoreboard. He’ll join Briscoe on the front row of the first heat.
Tyler Dippel, Todd Gilliland, Ben Rhodes and Kyle Strickler completed the top 10 in Wednesday practice.
Though there were multiple spins between the two 50-minute sessions, the only truck seriously damaged was that of Ross Chastain, who tagged the wall with his No. 45 and left his crew making repairs deep into the night on Wednesday.
Chastain is a three-time winner in Truck Series action this year and has already secured a playoff spot.
Friesen topped the charts in final practice at 19.886 seconds (90.516 mph), ahead of Briscoe, Moffitt, Gilliland and Crafton.
Heat races for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will hit the track at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.