Dream Night for Bowyer
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on June 8, 2011 | 11:10 P.M. EST
Bowyer became the fifth different winner in the history of the event. (Photo: Getty Images)
ROSSBURG, Ohio – Clint Bowyer followed up his home win at Kansas Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with another big win in his career when he took the checkered flag in the seventh annual Prelude to the Dream Late Model charity race at Eldora Speedway.
After finishing second in the last two Preludes, the Richard Childress Racing Sprint Cup Series driver and former dirt late model standout started from the pole and never looked back on his way to his first win in the 30-lap event.
The win was the second consecutive for Bowyer's Late Model team after they fielded the car for winner Jimmie Johnson in last year's race.
"It's about time," Bowyer said. "Jimmie beat me last year in my own car. Finally it was our turn. I'm just proud of my guys. We have won the last two and that says a lot about our program."
Former USAC open wheel star J.J. Yeley tried to run down Bowyer in the closing laps but had to settle for second.
"It was a lot of fun. This is the best I have ever run in a Late Model," said Yeley, who was driving the No. 1G for owner Sanford Goddard. "It's only about the fourth time I have been in one and they are a whole different animal to drive.
"The car was just a little bit too loose and it hurt me trying to get by Clint."
Aric Almirola, whose only dirt track experience came in last the last four Preludes, finished third with Kyle Busch and Justin Allgaier rounding out the top five.
“To qualify sixth, to run second in my heat race and finish third in the feature, what an awesome night," Almirola said. "Clint Smith brought me an awesome car and I had fun. From the time I got off the airplane, I had an absolute blast. I do every year, but when you run well, it makes it all that much more fun."
Ricky Carmichael, Ken Schrader, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne completed the first 10 finishers.
Bowyer, Allgaier, Marcos Ambrose, and Jason Leffler won the night’s 10-lap heat races.
"Watching Marcos Ambrose win his heat race and Jason Leffler win his heat race in his first time being here - that’s the stuff that makes you smile and it’s fun to watch those guys have a good time,” said Eldora track owner Tony Stewart.
Newman toured the half-mile dirt oval in 16.364 seconds to lead the qualifying session with Carl Edwards second quick and Busch third.
The 28-driver field was broken into four teams with the net proceeds raised through the Pay-Per-View television broadcast distributed to children’s hospitals in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas and St. Louis.
Team St. Louis featuring Busch, Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Allgaier, Kenny Wallace, Ron Hornaday and Carmichael was the night’s winner based on turning in the best finishes of the night.
“Thirty percent of what we raised tonight goes to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and we couldn’t be prouder,” said Missouri native and 2005 Prelude winner Wallace.
The event has been a passion for organizer Stewart, who was extremely pleased with the 2011 edition of the Prelude and the turnout of fans.
“We had an awesome crowd," said Stewart, who finished 20th. "We’ve had really hot weather this week and these race fans have stuck around. The Midwest in the summer when it’s hot like this can get brutal and these fans stuck it out. There were people who sat in the stands all day today in the heat. We’ve just got great race fans here at Eldora.”