Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Mike Joy And Darrell Waltrip Ready For Eldora
The last time NASCAR fans heard Mike Joy he was losing a lung trying to describe the incredible action of the Whelen Modifieds as they raced at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time. The race was short, the TV was basic and the fun meter was pegged on high. Is it wrong to say that was the most exciting NASCAR race of the season?
Well, Joy is back on TV and he is bringing Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds along for the ride. After one of the longest rain delays in recent racing history, Tony Stewart and his NASCAR guests are holding another edition of the always interesting and very unpredictable "Prelude to the Dream."
This is a night of Late Model racing for charity that benefits some great causes listed at the bottom of this column. Stewart owns Eldora Speedway and this little Rossburg, Ohio dirt track is something else. Many NASCAR fans who watch the sport on TV have really never seen dirt track racing and they are in for a surprise.
Unfortunately, there have been two withdrawals due to injury. Bill Elliott broke some ribs dirt-bike riding and Carl Edwards experienced the dreaded "Frisbee ankle." Both are on the sidelines for the event this season.
On the upside, Marcos Ambrose is along for the ride and that should be interesting. This will be his first experience on dirt and fans will get to watch it live. It should be great to see how he does in this very different environment.
While Jeff Gordon and Dave Blaney will also not be attending this year, the list of those who will be racing is impressive.
Tony Stewart - Heavy favorite, in charge of track watering operations.
Kenny Wallace - Won the event back in 2005, will Twitter while driving.
Brian Vickers - Absolutely no experience on dirt but promises to try very hard.
Kenny Schrader - Won at Eldora in USAC and has lots of free time to practice.
David Reutimann - Started career racing dirt modifieds across in Florida.
Cruz Pedregon - NHRA star promises this season entire field will not lap him.
Ryan Newman - Another dirt veteran of the USAC sprint cars in the Midwest.
Casey Mears - First time at the Prelude and ready for a learning experience.
Joey Logano - Has Home Depot book on dirt track racing but nothing else.
Kasey Kahne - Owns multiple sprint car teams and could be the dark horse.
Matt Kenseth - Just happy not to be driving in a Sprint Cup car for this race.
Jimmie Johnson - Former Stadium Truck Series racer looking for an oval win.
Denny Hamlin - Won a lot on this size track, but pavement was always involved.
Robby Gordon - Came from nowhere to finish second last season.
Red Farmer - Between 75 and 80 years young, still getting it done on the dirt.
Ray Evernham - Started as a driver, now owns a dirt track and still races.
Kyle Busch - Finished second in 2007, promised to talk to the media after the race.
Clint Bowyer - Former track champ on dirt at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas.
AJ Allmendinger - Absolutely first time on dirt, but hair will still look good.
Aric Almirola - Learned a lot in last two Preludes, could be a contender.
Kevin Harvick - On a roll from last week, looking to win the entire thing.
Two veterans from the NASCAR on Fox production team, Pam Miller and Artie Kempner, will be producing and directing the pay-per-view telecast distributed by HBO. The TV crew will also include Dick Berggren on pit road and Matt Yocum roaming the grounds as the host. These TV personalities have donated their services, as have the drivers.
The speedway will be rocking on Wednesday night as it has once again sold out. The expected overflow crowd should be around 23 thousand. Almost every single person will be leaving covered in some of the nice dirt surface that Mr. Stewart and his track crew are preparing. They would not have it any other way.
Here is how the TV works. At 6:30PM ET, there will be a thirty minute preview show that will serve to let cable viewers find the right PPV channel. Ordering can be done directly through the remote for digital cable viewers. If you are unsure about your cable TV setup, call your local cable company during the daytime to check and see how to order. The total price is $24.95.
For DirecTV viewers, turn to channel 121 to order while Dish customers should tune to channel 455. Please be advised that this program is in Standard Definition. Adjust your sets accordingly, HD has still not come to the Prelude.
Here is the schedule if everything goes smoothly:
7:00 p.m.: HBO Pay-Per-View Broadcast begins
7:10 p.m.: Prelude Hot Laps
7:40 p.m.: Prelude Qualifying
8:25 p.m.: Prelude Driver Introductions with parade laps
8:40 p.m.: Invocation & National Anthem
8:45 p.m.: Prelude Racing Program to begin -- Heats / Consolation / Feature
10:30 p.m.: Post Race Winner's Circle
The guys do hot laps, then qualify individually which is very fun to watch. Just like at your local track there are heat races, a consolation race and the feature.
The money raised from the PPV subscriptions goes to the following charities:
The Wounded Warrior Project
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
So, for the price of taking a date to the movies or eating out, racing fans can see lots of big name drivers in a very different environment. Late Model racing on dirt is wild and the action is just a blast. The attitude is informal and the TV is unpredictable. I'll be ordering again this year, I certainly hope you might join in.
We will get your comments on this event in an upcoming TDP column. Please feel free to ask any questions or offer comments below. Thanks.