ROSSBURG, Ohio – A pair of ThorSport Racing teammates will lead the field to green for the seventh annual Eldora Dirt Derby feature on Thursday night at Eldora Speedway.
By virtue of winning the first two 10-lap heat races at the half-mile dirt oval, Chase Briscoe and Matt Crafton – the victors of the last two Eldora Dirt Derbys – will share the front row for the 150-lapper.
Briscoe jumped to the lead from the pole in heat one and never looked back, escaping to victory by nearly two seconds over Johnny Sauter, Harrison Burton, Colt Gilliam and Jeffrey Abbey.
“I don’t know what we’ve got for tonight, to be honest,” said Briscoe, who also won his heat race a year ago before moving on to also win the feature. “We weren’t very good right there, I don’t think, even though we won the thing. The track is definitely a little bit different than it was last night. At the end of practice last night, we were really, really good, but now the track’s just getting slicker and slicker.
“It was more narrow than I thought it would be, but we have to get better if we’re going to win tonight.”
Likewise, Crafton dominated his heat from the pole in a caution-free rout. He led all 10 laps of the second heat and beat former big-block modified standout Tyler Dippel to the checkered flag.
Ross Chastain, Christian Eckes and Landon Huffman completed the top five in heat two.
Brett Moffitt wired heat three from the pole over Todd Gilliland, Carson Hocevar, Jake Griffin and Mike Marlar, while Stewart Friesen put on a similar performance in the fourth heat and held off a hard-charging Ben Rhodes down the stretch.
Justin Shipley, Austin Hill and Mark Smith completed the rest of the top five in heat four.
The fifth and final heat was decided by a slider-fest between Kyle Strickler and Sheldon Creed, with Strickler taking command off the initial start and ultimately leading all 10 laps for the victory.
Creed finished second, followed by Grant Enfinger, Gus Dean and Tim Ward.
Behind Briscoe and Crafton, Moffitt and Friesen will share the second row of the grid, with Strickler completing the top five ahead of Sauter, Dippel, Gilliland, Rhodes and Creed.
Enfinger, the regular-season points leader entering the night, will roll off from the 15th starting spot.
Kentucky winner Tyler Ankrum cruised to the 15-lap Last Chance Showdown victory, dominating by 6.898 seconds ahead of a fierce battle for second between fan-favorite Norm Benning and Georgia young gun Mason Massey.
Benning prevailed in the end and earned the 27th spot on the grid for the feature.
The 150-lap Eldora Dirt Derby is scheduled to begin just after 9 p.m., with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
PRELIMINARY RESULTS: NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series; Eldora Speedway; Aug. 1, 2019
Heat One (10 laps, top five transfer): 1. Chase Briscoe, 2. Johnny Sauter, 3. Harrison Burton, 4. Colt Gilliam, 5. Jeffrey Abbey / 6. Austin Wayne Self, 7. Jennifer Jo Cobb.
Heat Two (10 laps, top five transfer): 1. Matt Crafton, 2. Tyler Dippel, 3. Ross Chastain, 4. Christian Eckes, 5. Landon Huffman / 6. Tyler Ankrum, 7. Darwin Peters Jr.
Heat Three (10 laps, top five transfer): 1. Brett Moffitt, 2. Todd Gilliland, 3. Carson Hocevar, 4. Jake Griffin, 5. Mike Marlar / 6. Devin Dodson.
Heat Four (10 laps, top five transfer): 1. Stewart Friesen, 2. Ben Rhodes, 3. Justin Shipley, 4. Austin Hill, 5. Mark Smith / 6. Norm Benning.
Heat Five (10 laps, top five transfer): 1. Kyle Strickler, 2. Sheldon Creed, 3. Grant Enfinger, 4. Gus Dean, 5. Tim Ward / 6. Mason Massey IV.
Last Chance Showdown (15 laps, top two transfer): 1. Tyler Ankrum, 2. Norm Benning / 3. Mason Massey, 4. Jennifer Jo Cobb, 5. Darwin Peters Jr., 6. Devin Dodson, 7. Austin Wayne Self.