Austin Dillon wins on dirt at Eldora

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 24, 2013 at 11:33 pm •  Published: July 24, 2013
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"I think our sport really needed something different," Newman said. "I think it's a monumental day. It's something special. It's over tonight, but hopefully it happens again."

Will it?

"How far that goes, we'll have to wait and see," NASCAR President Mike Helton told Speed. "I think that's what makes tonight very special, the fact that it is a combination of Wednesday night racing, on a dirt track, which has been a long-time coming from a lot of our fans who requested it. So, tonight is very unique, and that's what makes it special. What the future holds? We'll see."

There sure seemed to be more excitement for the Truck Series race than the Cup stop Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leave Indy, get off the highway, and there's nothing but farmland, corn, a small town that could be mistaken for Mayberry — and then, Eldora.

Keselowski said on TV "there was more energy than for a Cup race."

The track issued 130 media credentials and boasted that tickets were purchased from 48 of the 50 states.

Eldora hosts some of the largest dirt racing events in the country, including the Dream, Kings Royal, and World 100.

Qualifying was pulled out of the dirt racing playbook. There were five, eight-lap qualifying events and a 15-lap last-chance race to come up with the 30 competitors (regularly 36 in the series) for the 150-lap Mudsummer Classic. The feature race was broken into three segments of 60, 50 and 40 laps.

Norm Benning rode the wall in the last-chance race to become the final driver in the field. But his No. 57 Chevrolet looked as if it went through 150 laps, not 15, with the exhaust pipes dragging along the dirt.

The 61-year-old Benning flipped the middle finger to Clay Greenfield after their trucks connected on the final lap.

It was a good race for older drivers. Ken Schrader became the oldest pole winner in a NASCAR series. The 58-year-old Schrader won the pole and a qualifying heat race. Dick Trickle was 57 years old when he won the pole for the June 1999 Nationwide Series race at Dover.

The trucks weren't built to race on dirt, so some adjustments were needed.

The Goodyear dirt tire was widened from 10 to 11 inches to provide a larger contact patch with the track and give the trucks more grip. While the Eldora right-side tire basically remained the same height as a NASCAR tire run on asphalt tracks, the left-side was 3 inches shorter (85.8 inches) to build in more stagger, which helped the trucks turn better.

The trucks were fitted for mesh shields and hood deflectors to hold off debris kicked up from the muck.

The trucks were dirty, but the racing was clean, with the first big wreck not coming until the 116th lap.