“It’s pretty amazing,” explained Dillon. “To win the first inaugural is pretty special; they had me dig up some Eldora dirt for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This just feels amazing. It was such a good show for the fans. I think tonight was a success for the fans, NASCAR, and thanks to Tony Stewart for putting it together. I was pretty confidant coming into this thing. I was surprised I was able to move up so fast. I just kept turning off the wall to get some traction and keep my momentum up. I did a couple slide jobs there and it got me in front. I knew the first segment when my spotter said ten to go if I could get to fourth that would put me on the outside for the next segment restart. The track grip got better as the track blew off. We made a small adjustment on air pressure just because I was a little tight. Then we just made little minor adjustments as the race went on just to keep up with the racetrack,” finished the happy race winner.
“I was getting through traffic really good, and I spent a few laps behind that truck, I think it was the 77,” explained Larson. “I was just getting a little bit impatient, and I got into his left rear with my right front. It kind of jerked the wheel right out of my hand and got me all out of shape. Austin was able to scoot by and that’s what kind of killed the race for us.”
NASCAR’s outlook of the final product
As of this writing, NASCAR still is evaluating its first dirt race in more than 40 years, but Senior Vice President Steve O’Donnell strongly indicated the day after the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway that it will return. “We felt it over delivered on everything,” he said. “It was a terrific turnout, and we were really happy with how the competitors performed, so all in all a great night for NASCAR and the sport. We still want to go through the garage area and meet with team owners and competitors and get their feedback, and we want to see the ratings. So far everything we’ve seen, it’s something we’d certainly entertain doing again for 2014.”
Speed Channel said the race received a household rating of 1.2, making it the 10th most-watched NASCAR truck race ever on the network. With a total of 1.4 million viewers, it was the most watched sports program of the day on cable. Its NCWTS Setup show had 1 million viewers, the most-watched prerace show in Speed history. The first national series run on dirt since September 30, 1970, drew a sellout crowd of more than 17,000 to Tony Stewart’s half-mile oval in rural Rossburg, Ohio.
Ratings were due shortly after the race and O’Donnell said Eldora drew a record social media response for a truck race, according to NASCAR’s Fan Engagement Center. Both “Eldora” and “Norm Benning,” a 61-year-old, who earned the final slot in the main event via the last-chance heat race, were trending nationally on Twitter during the race. Fans in the Eldora grandstands were chanting at NASCAR officials at the Wednesday night race to bring a Sprint Cup event to the track. O’Donnell said there was no imminent plan to put the Nationwide or Cup series on dirt, but that it might be feasible for stock cars to slide around Eldora as the heavy trucks were Wednesday night. “We’ve been trying to get to shorter tracks with the trucks in general, and you look at trucks and the dirt, and it felt more of a natural fit,” he said. “Certainly I think a Nationwide car could do that, but the focus has been trucks and will continue to be for the near future and keep that as a unique opportunity for the truck series.” O’Donnell went on to compare Eldora’s place in NASCAR with the NHL’s Winter Classic and said there’d been no discussions with other dirt tracks about hosting a NASCAR national series. “I think it’s probably a little premature,” he said. “It’s something that’s certainly unique and special, and we want to keep that element of it with whatever we do.”
The final result came down to an exciting finish, a lot of very close racing, and a lot of very happy race fans. It has also been talked about by the fans that could not get a valuable ticket as one of the best telecast coverage events they have ever watch. A lot of very good inside information was passed along to the race fans. NASCAR, back to their roots, who would have ever thought?