Opportunity awaits at NASCAR’s lone national series dirt race

(Getty Images for NASCAR )

There is plenty of opportunity awaiting NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors at Eldora Speedway’s highly-anticipated Eldora Dirt Derby Wednesday night (9 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Only one previous race winner is entered – 2017 victor Matt Crafton – and there will be plenty of new faces and inspired spirits competing for NASCAR’s most unique crown on the one-of-a-kind Eldora Speedway half-mile dirt track.

Series points leader Johnny Sauter is still looking for his Eldora trophy, with three finishes of 20th or worse in five starts there. He was 23rd in the race last year.

Of the top-five drivers in the truck title hunt, fourth-place Stewart Friesen was runner-up to Crafton in last year’s race. Grant Enfinger – ranked fifth in the championship – was fourth in last year’s Eldora race and current championship second place driver Noah Gragson was seventh. Third place in the standings, Brett Moffitt, did not compete at Eldora last year.

Two-time series champion Crafton is the only driver in the field to post top-10 finishes in all five runnings of the popular race at former Cup champion Tony Stewart’s Ohio track. A win this week would certainly help buoy his position in the standings. He’s currently seventh, 136 points behind first-place Sauter.

There are 14 drivers among the 40 entered who have never raced at Eldora Speedway. Eight drivers hope to start their first career dirt-track event, and seven competitors are making their Camping World Truck Series debuts.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Eldora Dirt Derby

The Place:  Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, Ohio)

The Date: Wednesday, July 21

The Time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: FS1

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 75 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), and Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

What to Watch For: In five previous races there have been no repeat winners at Eldora. … Matt Crafton, the 2017 race winner, leads all drivers with top-10 finishes in all five races. … Toyota’s three wins at Eldora are most among the manufacturers. … Ford broke into victory circle last week with Ben Rhodes at Kentucky Speedway, the OEM’s first win of 2018. … The closest Margin of Victory in this race is .762-seconds, coming when Christopher Bell beat Bobby Pearce in 2015. … Noah Gragson’s runner-up effort last week in Kentucky gives him a series-high four runner-up finishes on the year. He has finished first (once) or second, five times, tying championship leader Johnny Sauter who has four wins and a runner-up. … Sauter has not won at Eldora. His best finish is eighth back in 2014. … Fourteen of the 40 drivers entered this week have never raced at Eldora previously. … Seven of those drivers are making their series debut. … Inaugural race winner Austin Dillon holds the distinction of starting from the farthest spot back on the grid (19). The other four winners started seventh or better. The race has never been won from the pole position.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.