2017 Eldora Dirt Derby Preview

Final Practice-0528
Austin Cindric leads Johnny Sauter during Camping World Truck Series final practice at Eldora Tuesday.
Eric Young/The SuperSpeedway

 

Rossburg, Ohio — The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take to the dirt Wednesday night once again as the green flag waves at Eldora Speedway for the fifth-annual Eldora Dirt Derby.

Thirty-four trucks will take the green flag Wednesday night, and the crowd has a good chance to see a first-time winner in the event, as the only returning winner will be the one who took home the jar of dirt from the front stretch in 2015, Christopher Bell. Bell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this week that while his ultimate goal is to keep improving on asphalt, he would like to get another win on the famed dirt track.

Bell has quite a history on dirt. He finished second in the Kings Royal sprint car race Saturday night, having started that race four times. The night before he won the Knight Before the Kings Royal. He has victories in five divisions at Eldora Speedway, including winning the 2015 USAC Four Crown Midget Series and the 2015 USAC Four Crown Silver Crown Series at Eldora. He also was the 2013 USAC National Midget Series champion and won the 2017 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.

But Bell isn’t the only dirt ringer in the field. Rico Abreu makes his return to the truck series for his only time this season after running the full season last year. Abreu finished third in last year’s Dirt Derby. He is a five-time Kings Royal starter at Eldora, a two-time Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals winner, the 2014 USAC National Midget Series champion and won the 2013 and 2016 Four Crown Midget Series at Eldora.

Stewart Friesen also has plenty of dirt experience on dirt, as he is a five-time Super DIRT Week big-block modified race winner. Friesen was the fastest in the first practice session for the Dirt Derby Tuesday, setting the fastest time of the night of 19.547, 92.086 mph. He also ran the Super DIRTcar modified feature Tuesday night.

Bobby Pierce makes his return to the truck series after running up front last year in the Dirt Derby, leading 102 laps before having transmission problems that took him out of the race and relegated him to a 25th-place finish. Pierce won last year’s World 100 late model race at Eldora, and is a three-time UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion and a three-time UMP DIRTcar Late Model national champion.

Lastly Ken Schrader will keep his perfect record of competing in all five Eldora Dirt Derbies when he makes his start Wednesday night. Along with his long career in NASCAR, Schrader is the 1982 USAC Silver Crown Series champion, the 1983 USAC Sprint Car Series champion, the 1981 USAC Four Crown Midget Series winner at Eldora, the 1983 USAC Four Crown Sprint Car Series winner at Eldora, a 21-time USAC Midget Series race winner and a six-time USAC Silver Crown Series race winner.

While Friesen led the first practice Tuesday night, Caleb Homan led final practice with a time of 19.990 at 90.045 mph.

Most consistent in both practices were Ty Dillon and Bell. Dillon was second fastest in the first practice and third fastest in final practice, while Bell swapped those positions, third fastest in the first practice and second fastest in final practice.

Noah Gragson had the best 10-lap consecutive average, followed by Bell, Dillon, Kaz Grala and Chase Briscoe. Briscoe had a rough run in final practice though, as his truck got into the outside wall and into the catch fence, causing a short delay to fix the fencing.

Practice is over for the Camping World Truck Series. The trucks will next be on the track at 5 p.m. for qualifying, which will set the lineup for the heats. Heat races begin at 7:30 p.m. and will set the lineup for the 32-truck field. The main event, the 150-lap Eldora Dirt Derby, will begin at 9:30 p.m. The race will be broken up into three stages, 40 laps, 50 laps and 60 laps, for a total of 75 miles.

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