Rookies Ready for Eldora

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Darrell Wallace Jr. tested at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn. in preparation for the Mudsummer Classic. (Photo: Getty Images)

See Also: Truck Series History on Eldora Horizon | Entry List

Rookies in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series are still visiting tracks they have not yet competed on. Come next Wednesday, it will not only be a new track but a new element: dirt racing.

Jeb Burton leads the crop of rookies into Eldora Speedway for the inaugural CarCash Mudsummer Classic to be held July 24. He's second in the championship standings, 38 points behind Matt Crafton. The race will be NASCAR's first national series event on dirt since 1970.

"If it wasn’t a points race, I'd probably be more excited," Burton told the Motor Racing Network yesterday during a "NASCAR Next" karting event at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, N.C. "Since we're racing for this championship we have to be smart, survive and get out of there with a top-10 finish."

To prepare for his first dirt race, Burton and his Turner Scott Motorsports teammates tested at 311 Motor Speedway in Pine Hall, N.C.

"I've only done one test and I kept up with my teammate, Kyle Larson (will drive No. 30 Chevrolet). He's really, really good on dirt," Burton said. "He was definitely still running faster than me, but I felt like I could halfway keep up with him. I think we'll be a top-10 truck. We learned some things in the test and we'll be fine."

Larson, a rookie in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, has been active this season racing sprint cars, including races at Eldora where he swept USAC's 4-Crown Nationals in 2011. This past Tuesday, he rallied from the 26th starting spot to finish second in the final feature for the World of Outlaws STP Series Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway.

With Larson, Burton will have Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman as one of his teammates, driving the No. 34 Chevrolet.

"Ryan was really fast," Burton said about the test. "He's a really good dirt racer. I think we have good teammates to lean on and good setups."

Brad Keselowski Racing rookie Ryan Blaney will join forces with his father, Dave, for the Mudsummer Classic. The father-son combo tested their BKR trucks at Wythe Raceway in Virginia to prepare.

"I've been looking forward to it. The test went really well," said Ryan Blaney, who trails Burton by five points in the Rookie of the Year standings. "It's a fast race track we thought was the most comparable to Eldora. We got some good runs in and both got a pretty good taste of a Camping World Truck on dirt. It's not a sprint car, but it's still fun."

The ability for Ryan to work with his father at Eldora is special because of all of the success Dave has had in the past at the famed half-mile oval. Dave Blaney, the 1995 World of Outlaws champion and 70-time winner, has six Eldora Outlaw wins including the historical Big One (1997) and the Kings Royal (1993, 1995).

"My dad and I are really looking forward to getting out to Eldora and see what it holds,” Blaney said. "I'm anxious to see how the track is going to be prepared."

Like Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr. - driver of the No. 54 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports - will have a teammate that's accomplished a lot at Eldora. KBM will be fielding a third truck for Dirt Late Model ace Scott Bloomquist, who captured his sixth win in the Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora on June 8. Bloomquist will drive the No. 51 Toyota.

"I'm pretty sure we'll share some notes off each other because he knows Eldora pretty well and he's excellent on dirt," Wallace said. "So if we're struggling, we know we have a go-to guy."

Wallace is looking forward to the challenge of racing on dirt after testing at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn.

"It was definitely different. I've never been on dirt," Wallace said. "It was a lot of fun. (Joey) Coulter went out there first, and checked on the track and everything. My crew chief was like, 'Are you ready to go?' and I said, 'Sure. I'll try to be within 10 seconds of his time.' I went out there and actually laid down a pretty quick lap, and we were solid all day. Once the track got slick, it's all about searching for grip. That's the biggest thing."

German Quiroga is the last rookie guaranteed a spot in the Mudsummer Classic. His No. 77 Red Horse Racing team sits in the top 20 in owner points. There will be five qualifying races on Wednesday that will see five trucks transfer, including the highest-finishing truck that's not locked in.

"The format changes. But if you're fast, you're going to be there in the top five," said Quiroga, who scored his first career pole last weekend at Iowa Speedway. "Hopefully, we can put our No. 77 up-front and then we'll work our way through the main event."

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of the CarCash Mudsummer Classic Camping World Truck Series race from Eldora Speedway beginning at 8:30 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, July 24. Visit MotorRacingNetwork.com at 7 p.m. for exclusive online coverage of the heat races.

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