Skip to content

Dirt, NASCAR, Eldora are big winners after Mudsummer Classic

Jul 25, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT

The CarCash Mudsummer Classic Getty Images

Occasionally, you just need to tip your cap to someone on a job well done.

In this case, a tip of the cap to two parties: NASCAR, for taking a chance on a dirt track race for the first time in 40 years, and to Eldora Speedway, its track president Roger Slack and track owner Tony Stewart.

It looked weird at first glance – the sight of these lumbering, overpowered and under-tired NASCAR Camping World Trucks attempting to “slide job” and ride loose around the top groove of the half-mile oval in Rossburg, Ohio.

But after just a few minutes and few laps, it looked massive, and it looked like a spectacle.

From the sold-out crowd, to the heat race format, to Norm Benning making the feature race after holding on in his last-chance qualifier, to the four-wide tribute start and salute to the fans, to the race itself. It looked like authentic racing without appearing contrived. It wasn’t a crash fest; it was fairly clean. It was three hours of racing action, but it was never three hours of tedium.

In fact, the only disappointment was that it seemed every time the leaders were approaching traffic, a caution flew for debris. Now in all cases, the big pieces of debris were shown, so you can put the “phantom debris caution” theory to rest on this occasion.

Kyle Larson drove the wheels off his truck but race winner Austin Dillon came through the field just as much, in fact more so than the widely accepted wunderkind who has been hailed by many as NASCAR’s next big thing.

The immediate cries on social media and in some reports was for “MORE DIRT RACING!” or something along those lines.

The challenge for NASCAR, and perhaps for other domestic forms of motorsport, is not to lose the unique nature of this first, one-off dirt track NASCAR experience.

Some of racing’s most iconic races are that way because they’re sparse. Because they’re unique. Monaco, Indianapolis and Le Mans are iconic; Kansas, Kentucky and Chicagoland are not.

Over-saturation of a certain kind of racing – the preponderance of 400-mile snooze fests on 1.5-mile ovals as an example – pretty much reduces those races to also-ran, can-miss status because there’s no differentiating one from another.

NASCAR’s most exciting races have tended to occur on slower tracks visited infrequently. Bristol and Martinsville, the two half-mile tracks, are among the most fun to watch, as are the two road course races at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Eldora fits this bill to a T.

For NASCAR, perhaps one or two more dirt track races in a year could go a long way toward building up enough sustained season-long interest in dirt, but not overdoing it.

The easiest way to get “MORE DIRT RACING” from here is to simply visit your local short track and see the action there. They need the support.

But as for last night, it was an excellent dirt-digging, groundbreaking ceremony for a form of racing that seeks to make a resurgence in the minds and wallets of race fans.

Here’s a few extra takes on the race from AP/Dan Gelston, USA Today’s Jeff Gluck and Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass.

And here are tweets from Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson.

Latest Posts
  1. Engine glitch leaves Grosjean fuming over the radio in Singapore

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    “We break our balls to make a good qualifying and you lose five-tenths every single straight line because the thing cuts” – tough talk from the Frenchman.

  2. Vettel thinks pole was possible in Singapore

    Sep 20, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Defending world champion disappointed to only finish fourth in qualifying at Marina Bay.

  3. Magnussen: McLaren can’t be happy with today (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Reaching Q3 for the seventh race in a row not enough for Magnussen.

  4. Jeff Gordon posts quickest lap in final Sprint Cup practice at N.H.

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 - Practice Getty Images

    For the first time all weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, someone else besides Brad Keselowski got to the top of the leaderboard.

  5. Alonso happy with fifth in Singapore GP qualifying (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ferrari looked to be in the running for pole in Singapore, but Alonso is still pleased with fifth place on the grid.

  6. Ricciardo: Red Bull closer to Mercedes than expected

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Australian driver qualifies third for the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.

  7. NASCAR: Cole Custer on pole for Truck Series at N.H.

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Carneros 200 - Qualifying Getty Images

    The 16-year-old earns his second career Truck Series pole ahead of today’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

  8. Rosberg frustrated to fall 0.007 seconds short of pole

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    The F1 championship leader falls agonizingly short of pole position in qualifying for the Singapore GP on Saturday.

  9. Hamilton fights back for pole despite mistake on Q3 lap

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Briton makes up for an error at the first corner to beat teammate Nico Rosberg by just 0.007 seconds.

  10. Keselowski stays hot in cold 2nd Sprint Cup practice at N.H.

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Sylvania 300 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Under overcast skies and with ambient temperatures around 40 degrees – a far cry from what’s expected for Sunday – Keselowski posted a hot lap of 135.622 mph to pace the field.

  11. Hamilton snatches Singapore pole away from Rosberg

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Hamilton bags pole position by the narrowest of margins on Saturday night in Singapore.

  12. WATCH LIVE: Singapore GP Qualifying – an open fight under the lights?

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Can Ferrari or Red Bull spoil Mercedes’ party in Singapore? Join us live on CNBC and Live Extra from 9am ET today.

  13. Red Bull GRC: LA course preview with Ken Block (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:15 AM EDT

    FIA World Rally Championship Mexico - Day Two Getty Images

    Track preview of LA course for Red Bull Global Rallycross.

  14. Tost convinced Verstappen is the right man for Toro Rosso

    Sep 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Belgium F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Dutch youngster is set to take part in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

  15. Three-car teams must be a last resort for Formula 1

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Previews Getty Images

    With the future of as many as four teams in the lurch, F1 could be forced to take drastic action in 2015. However, efforts must be made to resolve the current situation instead of finding a solution to a future problem.

  16. Fernando Alonso closes out practice in Singapore fastest

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:04 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    Spaniard fastest ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg.

  17. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Singapore Grand Prix

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:45 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    FP3 marks the final chance for the drivers and teams to get everything set for qualifying later today.

  18. Keselowski: Stewart/Ward case being sent to grand jury “feels like a little bit of a cop out”

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:13 PM EDT

    MyAfibStory.com 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Keselowski’s comments today at New Hampshire seem odd considering what he said just days after the Aug. 9 tragedy in upstate New York.

  19. NASCAR: RCR, Roush teams looking strong in NNS practice at Kentucky

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Kentucky Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    Chris Buescher (RFR), Cale Conley (RCR) shine for these teams.

  20. NASCAR: Matt Crafton, Cole Custer top Truck Practice 2 and 3 at Loudon

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    UNOH 175 - Practice Getty Images

    Crafton hopes to build up his slim lead in the Camping World Truck Series championship with a strong outing in tomorrow’s UNOH 175.

Video from NASCAR America

Which longshot will advance in Chase?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (1879)
  2. J. Gordon (1470)
  3. K. Busch (1429)
  4. K. Harvick (1372)
  5. M. Crafton (1341)