Truck Race Preview: Eldora

Eldora Speedway

NASCAR is returning to the half-mile dirt oval at Eldora Speedway for Wednesday night's Camping World Truck Series race. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Schedule of Events | Driver Averages | Past Race Winners

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series news, notes and fast facts in advance of Wednesday night's Eldora Dirt Derby.

Radio: MRN, 7:30 p.m. (ET) - Includes Qualifying Races
TV: FOX Business Network, 9 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 75 miles (150 laps)
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 40), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 150)

Races: 4
Pole Winners: 4
Youngest Pole Winner: Erik Jones (7/23/2014 - 18 years, 1 month, 23 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Ken Schrader (7/24/2013 - 58 years, 1 month, 25 days)
Race Winners: 4
Youngest Race Winner: Christopher Bell (7/22/2015 - 20 years, 7 months, 6 days)
Oldest Race Winner: Kyle Larson (7/20/2016 - 23 years, 6 months, 30 days)
Races Won from Pole: 0
Race Record: Austin Dillon - 67.401 mph (7/24/2013)
Qualifying Record: Schrader - 91.329 mph (7/24/2013)

  Last Race Most/Largest Fewest/Smallest
Trucks: 32 36 - 2 Times (7/20/2016)

30 - 2 Times (7/23/2014)

Lead Changes: 3 9 (7/22/2015) 3 (7/20/2016)
Leaders: 2 5 (7/23/2014) 2 (7/20/2016)
Cautions: 9 13 (7/22/2015) 6 (7/24/2013)
Caution Laps: 52 61 (7/22/2015) 30 (7/24/2013)
Lead Lap Finish: 15 24 (7/23/2014) 15 (7/20/2016)
Running at the Finish: 27 29 (7/22/2015) 27 (7/20/2016)
Laps Led (Winner): 48 106 (7/22/2015) 48 (7/20/2016)
Margin of Victory*: 0.767 5.489 (7/23/2014) 0.761 (7/22/2015)

*Since 1993 (advent of digital timing and scoring); does not include races completed under caution

The House That Tony Stewart Built
Eldora Speedway is a half-mile dirt racing facility located in western Ohio. The facility is owned by three-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart. Stewart, an Indiana native, purchased the neighboring state dirt track from Earl Baltes in 2004.

Eldora Speedway has hosted four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since the 2013 season. In those four races, there have been four different winners: Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Austin Dillon.

Three of the four Eldora Speedway winners are currently full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers or have made starts in the series this season. Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) both have Cup Series wins this season. Wallace spent time in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford filling in for the injured Aric Almirola.

Bell, who won at Eldora in 2015, is a rising star with five career Camping World Truck Series wins. He has also made two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts this season.

One thing to watch this week at Eldora? The finish. Over the last two Truck Series races there, the margin of victory has been nearly identical. In 2016, Larson beat Bell by 0.767 of a second. In 2015, Bell edged Bobby Pierce by 0.761 of a second in the closest margin of victory in track history.

A Guide to Eldora
Eldora's qualifying and race formats differ from the knockout qualifying seen weekly in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series. Below is a guide to how it works. At Eldora, a random draw determines the qualifying order for two-lap, single-truck qualifying that determines the starting positions for the qualifying races (five races in total). The fastest qualifier earns the pole.

Each of the five qualifying races consist of 10 laps, with only green-flag laps counting. The top five trucks in the two-lap qualifying will start on the pole for their respective qualifying races. The lineups for the qualifying races are filled based on qualifying speeds (sixth competes in the first qualifying race, seventh in the second, eighth in the third, (etc.).

The top five trucks from each qualifying race will transfer to the main event. Upon completion of the qualifying races, 25 trucks will earn spots in the race.

When the five qualifying races are completed, there will be a last-chance qualifying race. The lineup will be based on finishing position from the qualifying races and the race will be 15 laps with only green flag laps counting. The top two finishers transfer to the race, where they will start in positions 26-27.

Starting positions 28-31 go to the highest-ranking eligible trucks in owner points that have not already earned a starting position through qualifying. The 32nd starting position goes to the most recent eligible past series champion; if that position is not filled by an eligible champion, it will be assigned based upon owner points.

The race will be 150 laps divided into three stages of 40, 50 and 60 laps. During the competition cautions at the stage breaks, caution laps will not count and positions cannot be improved on pit road.

Teams are not required to pit during the competition cautions. Those teams that do not elect to pit may remain on the track and start in front of the pitting teams.

Bell Looking to Find Pay Dirt
Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Bell is widely considered a dirt dynamo. He grew up in Oklahoma and got his start in racing with sprint cars in 2011. In 2013, he won the USAC National Midget championship and in 2014, he won 24 quarter-midget races and 26 total dirt races, including the Turkey Night Grand Prix.

In 2015, Bell appeared in seven Camping World Truck Series races with KBM and won his first career race, at Eldora Speedway. He got a full-time ride in 2016 and would prove how good he is on dirt tracks as he finished second at Eldora to Larson.

During the 2016-17 off-season, in what’s highly regarded as the "Super Bowl of midget racing," Bell won the Chili Bowl Nationals. When asked about his career thus far after winning his third Truck Series race this season two weeks ago at Kentucky Speedway, Bell was proud that he’s been able to race at all levels and be successful.

"Being successful in multiple cars is something I’ve felt like I’ve done my entire career and I want to continue that. It’s why Kyle Larson is where is he is today, because he’s won in everything he’s got in. I want to continue that for my personal goals – to continue to win in everything I drive."

When asked if he has an advantage at Eldora, Bell was not shy.

"Eldora is different," he said. "The trucks are hard to drive. I enjoy it because I have an advantage whenever I go there over the other guys. I call it the week of Eldora now because I’ve been able to run the Kings Royal before the truck race. The week of Eldora is my second favorite week of the year besides the Chili Bowl."

Briscoe Hoping to Dig Deep
Brad Keselowski Racing driver Chase Briscoe will be racing close to home this week. Briscoe, a native of Mitchell, Ind., is looking for his first career Truck Series win. In a NASCAR teleconference with Bell, Briscoe was eager to make his debut at a dirt track he visited frequently as a child.

"This is the one track I have been looking forward to racing at more than any," he said. "I have been going there ever since I was little. Eldora is a Daytona or Indianapolis for us dirt guys, it will definitely be an honor for us come Wednesday."

Briscoe is a co-leader in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with ThorSport Racing driver Grant Enfinger. The two are tied at 125 points apiece. Briscoe has had a strong rookie season through 10 races. He has four top fives, five top 10s, two poles and has led 105 laps. Briscoe has yet to finish outside the top 25 and sits third in the overall point standings.

Reigning Champion Looking to Enjoy Eldora
Defending Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter is having another championship-like run through 10 races this season. Sauter has one win (Dover), seven top fives, nine top 10s and 316 laps led. He has yet to finish outside the top 15.

But there’s one thing the champ has yet to master: dirt. In four starts at Eldora, Sauter has finished 13th, 22nd, 8th and 29th. This year, he's looking to have fun.

"Eldora is a little bit of a different situation for me," he said. "I have fun at Eldora, it’s a great atmosphere with a lot of good fans. My mindset there is to have fun. If we can stay out of trouble, we could be there in the end."

But just because he’s looking to have fun at Eldora doesn’t mean he’s not going to compete. In fact, Sauter was preparing by going to a local dirt track near his home in Wisconsin.

"This week for the first time ever, I've taken it upon myself to try and gear up a dirt car, it’s a street stock," he said. "I live in Wisconsin so there’s a dirt track called Beaver Dam Raceway that’s a half-mile track. This was my way of getting prepared on my own."

First-Time Diggers at Eldora
There are nine Rookie of the Year contenders making their track debut at Eldora Speedway this week: Chase Briscoe, Wendell Chavous, Austin Cindric, Cody Coughlin, Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala and Justin Haley.

Over the last three races there, three drivers won their first career pole: Caleb Holman, Bobby Pierce and Erik Jones.

Familiar Faces
Monster Energy Series driver Ty Dillon headlines a group of non-Truck Series regulars making starts this week at Eldora. Dillon will be running in the No. 99 Chevrolet for Matthew Miller. Dillon has three starts with one top five and two top 10s.

Bobby Pierce will be making his third career start at Eldora and has been successful in his last two runs there. He finished a career-best second in 2015. Dirt ace Rico Abreu will make his first Truck Series start this season. Abreu made his track debut last year and finished third.

Blast From the Past
Camping World Truck Series racing at Eldora Speedway remains a popular and special race on the calendar each season for multiple reasons. It’s the only event run at a dirt track and its unique qualifying format makes it’s a must-watch.

Both of those reasons combined for a big one in 2013 thanks to Norm Benning when the Truck Series made its inaugural trip to Eldora. Benning had to race his way into the main event by finishing in the top five during the qualifying races.

Benning took fifth in the last-chance heat race, and provided fans and competitors alike with excitement as he battled Clay Greenfield in the final laps. Both drivers raced hard, but Benning used the outside wall on the final lap to get around and beat Greenfield.

With his truck receiving some damage due to his battle in the qualifying race, crew members from other teams assisted Benning in repairing the truck for the main event.

Benning went on to finish 26th in the race, but the thrill of an underdog racing his way into the main event at Eldora proved to be true in the first NASCAR national-series race at the dirt track.

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