Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2022 Historical Big One at Eldora

The Headline(s)

Score one for the Pennsylvania Posse, as Brent Marks’ red-hot summer streak scored his No. 19 team a $100,000 payday in the Historical Big One at Eldora.

How it Happened

2022 Historical Big One
Where: Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio (streamed on DirtVision)
Winner’s Purse: $100,000

Brent Marks’s scorching tear through sprint car racing this summer carried onto Eldora, with Marks blasting past leader and defending King’s Royal winner Tyler Courtney on a lap 25 restart, leading the last 16 laps to score the $100,000 win, his 12th of 2022 in a 410 sprint car.

The win came from the 14th starting position for Marks, who said in victory lane that his car didn’t feel like a winner until the surface slicked over during the second half of the feature. Marks did make interesting in the last couple laps, as he struggled to put James McFadden a lap down, allowing Courtney to close the gap in the final two laps. 

Courtney led a rocky opening 18 laps of the feature that was stopped three times, including a lengthy stop under lap 9 that saw polesitter Sye Lynch lose an engine and top-five runners Kyle Larson and Kraig Kinser both forced to pit with flat tires. Rico Abreu was able to mount a mid-race challenge, leading laps 19-21 before yielding the point back to Courtney.

2022 HISTORICAL BIG ONE RACE RESULTS

David Gravel won Wednesday night’s Joker’s Wild preliminary feature.

Success Stories

The Historical Big One is sanctioned by the World of Outlaws, but their regulars had very little to say about the outcome of Thursday’s race, with non-Outlaw drivers sweeping the podium and taking four of the top six finishing positions (Marks and Abreu run independent schedules while Courtney is full-time on the All-Star Circuit of Champions tour and sixth-place finisher Brian Brown is a track regular at the Knoxville Raceway). 

To see current series points leader Brad Sweet score the top finish for the WoO regulars in the Historical Big One, and to do so the night after fellow title contender David Gravel snapped a long winless streak, was a strong message for the three-time defending champion to send.

Port Royal Speedway regular Logan Wagner benefitted from track owner Tony Stewart’s desire/demand for a 24-car starting field Thursday night, earning the final starting spot in the Historical Big One field after finishing fifth in the last chance showdown. The only reason that was good enough to make the feature was because …

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Aaron Reutzel had nowhere to go when Logan Fenton spun out in turn 4 during the fourth heat, resulting in a destructive crash that broke welded parts off Reutzel’s chassis.

Without a backup car, Reutzel technically was qualified for the Historical Big One feature but was unable to start said feature and scratched, leading Stewart and the racetrack to opt to qualify another driver to start the main event (more on that later).

Apollo, Pa.’s Lynch benefitted more than any other driver in the field from the inversion in the heat races, winning the sixth heat race and earning the pole for the Historical Big One feature. Once the feature started, Lynch immediately went backward, failing to lead a lap before the engine expired in flames on lap 9, forcing the track to throw the red flag.

Kinser had to forfeit the third running position under the lap 9 yellow flag as one of several drivers that suffered flat tires early in the feature, then ended up flipping on the ensuing restart after making contact with Jacob Allen while in a pack heading through turn 1. 

NASCAR Regulars

NASCAR Cup Series regular Alex Bowman lost the last transfer spot with three laps remaining in the C-main and failed to qualify for Thursday’s Historical Big One.

Former Cup regular Kasey Kahne blew an engine in the C-main and failed to qualify for the feature.

Defending Cup Series champion Kyle Larson won his heat race in dramatic fashion Thursday night. Larson worked his way to second in the opening laps of the feature before having to pit under a lap 9 caution with a flat right-rear tire. Larson battled back to finish ninth by the end of the race.

Fanning the Flames

Sprint car racing is often lauded for the sportsmanship that gets demonstrated whenever a car enters the work area, as most often such incidents will see half-a-dozen race teams work to put their own competition back on track. Credit to the World of Outlaws for showing the same sportsmanship on a night where a rival Posse driver brought home the big bucks.

The Eldora Million was no fluke … the crew at the track have got its surface back in working order. The Eldora surface was uber racy on Thursday night.

See also
Thinkin' Dirty: 2022 Eldora Million

Speaking of Thursday night, the feature didn’t go green until after 11 p.m. local time. I get that Eldora is Eldora, but any other racetrack in the country not starting its headliner until that late on a weeknight would get taken to task for it. Especially considering there was no support class racing holding anything up this evening.

Fans love the wheel of doom that Eldora uses to essentially invert the starting lineups for their heat races following qualifying, and I will grant that practice does mix up the field a lot more than the usual straight-up format utilized in World of Outlaws races. But, considering the above point regarding start time for a mid-week race, why not just utilize a pill draw and save the time of having to qualify 50-plus racecars? As racy as Eldora was, the random draw would have been just as fair as Thursday’s invert.

DirtVision’s Chase Raudman proclaimed that Zack Hampton was the most polarizing driver in sprint car racing after he scored one of the more unexpected berths of the night in the Historical Big One feature. I’d counter that that honor belonged to Logan Fenton, after his spin triggered the heat-race wreck that scratched Aaron Reutzel from the night and ignited some fiery criticism on social media.

Thursday marked the first time (I believe) in 2022 that I’ve seen Fenton race, so I can’t comment on whether he’s proven to be an issue on other dirt tracks this year. As for the note about Ryan Timms though, Eldora/the Outlaws do NOT need to go Chili Bowl cash-grab mode to allow young teens to run this big-league, big-dollar races. And yes, I’m fully aware that Timms has proven capable of driving a 410 sprint car; I was at Dog Hollow Speedway this past Friday to see him wire a 25-lap, $3,000-to-win feature.

Anyone that reads this column regularly knows that I’ve always expressed concern about having minors run races against adults. There’s a maturity gap, often an experience gap, and in the event that said minors make a mistake on the track there’s very little their competitors can morally/legally do to confront them. And in a race like the Historical Big One, where the winning pool is literally season-changing money, adult swim is appropriate.

I’m not really a fan of the decision made by Stewart and Eldora to take an extra car from the last chance showdown into the Historical Big One feature on Thursday after Aaron Reutzel was forced to scratch despite having qualified for the feature due to damage to his racecar. 

Yes, Stewart as a promoter can and should be credited for ponying up another $4,000 to allow for a 24th starter, with Reutzel in line to collect his race winnings despite being unable to start. But if there’s a real desire to start 24 cars no matter what, it should have been outlined clearly in the rulebook before the race started, not as a knee-jerk reaction, especially considering that such a decision runs counter to standard World of Outlaws procedures. 

And perhaps most bothersome, if Reutzel was able to collect his winnings for qualifying for the Historical Big One despite being unable to start (and he should have, I’m not being critical there), why was he not included in the event’s class photo?

Numbers Game

16 – the number of positions that hard charger Logan Schuchart made up in the Historical Big One feature (21st to fifth)

59 – sprint cars entered for the Historical Big One Thursday.

$54,085 – winner’s share of Thursday’s 50/50 at Eldora.

Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): We’ll give the Historical Big One five Eldora Toilet Waters. It was a late night for a Thursday, but some fiery heat races and a feature that saw multiple green-flag lead changes was a strong showing for the return of this race and Eldora heading into King’s Royal weekend.

Up Next: Thinkin’ Dirty stays at Eldora this weekend for the King’s Royal. $175,000-to-win makes Saturday night’s feature the richest sprint car race of the 2022 season. Coverage can be found on DirtVision.

About the author

Senior Commentator at Frontstretch

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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