The Frontstretch: A Realist's View On NASCAR's Return To Dirt by Jeff Meyer -- Friday July 26, 2013

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A Realist's View On NASCAR's Return To Dirt

Voices From the Cheap Seats · Jeff Meyer · Friday July 26, 2013


This last Wednesday, I did something I rarely do. I went out of my way to watch the Truck series race on the dirt at Eldora. While I am a fan of most forms of racing, I don’t go out of my way to watch a truck race, usually because they are earlier in the week and I forget they are on. Such was the case this last Wednesday until someone at my day job asked me if I was going to watch. I was a bit dumbfounded at first as my mind searched for a reason why this race was supposed to be special enough for this particular friend to ask. Oh, they’re on dirt are they? Well I guess I just might, which I did.

NASCAR returned to dirt with the Truck Series at Eldora Speedway Wednesday night. But was it really as great as it’s been portrayed?

Now I understand that this is the first time since I was five that a NASCAR top series had raced on dirt, but to go so far as to make like the event rivaled the coming of the newest of England’s Royal Family, as some in the media have likened, I’d say is taking things a bit too far. I mean, here I am, a NASCAR themed, egotistical, opinionated writer for ten years now and I had forgotten all about it. I ‘spose if you are a die hard Truck series fan, but truthfully, in the whole scope of things, there just ain’t that many. If there were, you wouldn’t see all the empty seats at any given truck race.

Having said all that, I did remember to watch it, and promptly fell asleep during the second segment but awoke just as they were about to start the third and managed to watch it through the checkered flag.

Being brutally honest, I wasn’t all that impressed. Nor was anyone else I talked to yesterday who managed to stay up. As my colleague here at reported about her ‘non-scientific’ twitter following in her column yesterday, my ‘findings’ were equally non scientific but more toward the other end of the scale. Don’t get me wrong, there was some good racing at times but over all, every person that I talked to had no doubts that it had been over-hyped. Nothing different than what you’d see at any local dirt track and in fact, a whole lot tamer.

I’m not out here advocating carnage and destruction but seriously, all you had was a bunch of trucks trying to do their best to slide around a hard packed, bumpy surface without pissing anyone off. Yes, a few bumps and bruises and crinkled fenders but not anything really all that exciting. Only one actual wreck? In a Truck race? C’mon!

I’m not trying to be grouchy about it all, just realistic. So it’s the first time since 1970 that NASCAR has run on dirt. That in and by itself is no reason to go all ga-ga and give underserved praise and say it is something it was not.

In my opinion there were three major things that really would have made it worth watching and a lot more exciting. First, an earlier starting time, second and third, that’s easy…Kurt and Kyle Busch!

Ryan Newman, Kurt and Kyle on dirt? Now THAT would have made for some good television!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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07/26/2013 05:06 AM

Ummm, I think you nailed it on this one, Jeff :)

Bill B
07/26/2013 08:17 AM

I am glad I am not the only one that was underwhelmed. From the way some folks are going on about this it was the race of the century. I too expected more carnage and beating and banging. And most of all, I was expecting more mud. My friend that watched it felt the same way. And yes, either start it earlier or get those heat races done in an hour and get rid of some of the fluff.

It was still a good short track race but Martinsville is better.

07/26/2013 08:40 AM

meh. it was OK and i’ll agree with the writer’s opinioin as well. i know why tony let the surface get so dry slick and rubbered in, and found it to be underwhelming for either a dirt track race or a short track race. it certainly did not live up to the hype. but i suppose i’d rather watch that type of a race than 99% of the aero tracks. not sur eut i might also line up with kyle larson on the “austin brothers” comment.

Michael in SoCal
07/26/2013 11:55 AM

I found the race a lot of fun to watch, but the heat races were a bit boring. The speeds were a little slow, but the racing in the main race (and the last chance race) was pretty strong.

Part of the reason it was a good race was the fact that it was on a short track.

07/26/2013 02:27 PM

Think that was the most fun watching a race in a while…It was action packed & they appeared to noy focus on the leaders but all over…Plenty of action & passing..To many Nascar fans have nothing positive to say EVER..(lots of time with cause) But Jeff you must of still been half asleep…They don’t need to have massive crash’s (go watch demo derby) But Rubbin is Racin & it was..Note: Every driver they interveiwed was pumped & loved it “Thats real racing” was heard over & over..Did you see the big smiles on just about EVERY racer after the race..When did they last have that level of enjoyment..It’s a one off & it’s done ..Boy that was fun

Wayne M
07/26/2013 02:42 PM

Dirt is for racing,asphalt is for getting there.

Kevin in SoCal
07/26/2013 04:56 PM

It looked more like they were trying to avoid spinning out on ice than it looked like they were racing on dirt, to me.
But I did enjoy the race.

07/26/2013 05:03 PM

Many dirt tracks look like that toward the end of a busy night. Not every dirt track is a giant rutted bowl of filth. I’m glad the track locked down, it meant there wasn’t a complete haze of dust that you couldn’t see the cars through.

Part of dirt racing is changing track conditions. The track condition changed—into the rubbered up variety. Perfectly normal, happens all the time, and it still gave us a good race.

I know frontstretch is all about dumping on NASCAR at ever available opportunity (I certainly do enough of it myself), but this is getting ridiculous. Was it the greatest dirt track race of all time? Not by a long shot. Was it better than the vast, vast majority of 1.5 mile crapoval races in the three major series? Yes, unquestionably. And twitter and facebook and all the interwebs is a-flurry with positive feedback about it. So can we maybe let them celebrate one little success and hope we get more of it? Geez.

07/27/2013 12:04 AM

seems to me those complaining, are complaining about “the hype”, not the actual race.


The race was great. TV coverage was very good, showing racing through the field and not just a tight shot of the leader.

The hype? I couldn’t tell you, cause I only tuned in for the race. Glad I did, cause it was the best I’ve seen in awhile.

07/27/2013 07:18 AM

Nothing different than what you’d see at your regular dirt tracks, yes, but that is missing the point by a country mile. These are asphalt race cars racing on dirt with very few modifications, driven by drivers mostly brought up on pavement racing. Yet it was a resounding success. We saw them put on racing as good as if not better than most of your regular dirt tracks can.

This was a big deal.

Buck Futz
07/27/2013 09:37 PM

Yeah, the “hype” was typical NASCAR crap.

As was dividing the so-called “race” into three meaningless segments.

As was having pit stops which occur virtually no where else in dirt racing.

Why wasn’t the track graded, watered and packed before the main event(s)? The trucks looked like they were racing on one of those carnival slick tracks.
The only decent racing was the last 20 laps and everything before was a bad joke.

Also, most of the field was unknown due to “ringers” subbing for the regular drivers.
Finally, ringers should not be allowed in any race unless a driver is injured. A driver is paid to drive a car and that’s what they should do not matter what type of track they’re on. Earn your money, drones.

07/29/2013 09:18 AM

While the race left me a little underwhelmed, I have to admit it exceeded expectations. I know my statement sounds like a contradiction, but I felt the hype was a bit much. My expectations were rock bottom because I anticipated a lot of crashing and riding around behind the pace truck. Instead, we had about 25 extremely cautious drivers riding around not knowing exactly what to do. There was only one groove, which made what passing we did see very exciting to see if a driver could pull off that slide job. I think overall, it was a decent race. Much better than what we see at Kansas, Texas, Pocono, etc.

If anything, it solidified for me how much better short track racing is for stock cars. The trucks would benefit from running smaller venues with sellout crowds rather than a general admission section of 15,000 at the big speedways. If you want to have a few exceptions, go ahead. The trucks should race some companion events that are feasible..such as Charlotte, Bristol, Richmond, Darlington, Martinsville, etc. I’d rather see the trucks have a Daytona 500-esque environment when they travel to Richmond or Bristol, similar to the modifieds in Loudon.

Run a big 300 lap race at Bristol and let that be the crown jewel for the trucks. You can do 300 laps on 2 stops and save teams money on tires and fuel compared to travelling to Vegas to put on a show in front of about 10,000 fans. South Boston, Greenville-Pickens, Irwindale, and Lucas Oil Raceway Park just to name a few would be ideal venues for the trucks.

07/29/2013 02:34 PM

The race was pretty good, i’ve seen better but the trucks still are odds on favorite to be the best race of the weekend.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
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Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.