Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
$1 million is Stewart's goal for Eldora's big charity race
By Mike Ernst
In the first seven years of the annual Prelude To The Dream charity event at Eldora Speedway, more than $3.5 million has been raised for terminally ill children and families of injured military personnel.
This year the money raised through the fans attending the event and the fans at home who purchase the race on HBO's Pay-Per-View will benefit Feed The Children, a U.S.-based charity that domestically has helped more than 365,000 families since 2009 through its Americans Feeding Americans Caravan.
Again this year, track owner and three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart headlines the star-studded lineup that features other NASCAR stars as well as drivers from the NHRA, IndyCar and the World of Outlaws. Stewart has set a lofty goal of raising more than $1,000,000 for the 2012 event.
"It's an ambitious goal," admits Stewart, "but if we don't set the bar high, we're not pushing ourselves the way we should. That's our goal and me and everybody else associated with this event are going to do everything we can to meet that goal. Now, we just need every one out there to purchase the event, enjoy all the action going on at Eldora and know that their dollars are going to a very worthy cause."
The top-10 finishers in the Prelude To The Dream, will send a food truck to each driver's hometown or city of their choice through Feed The Children.
"This is an excellent opportunity to bring attention to the nationwide problem of child hunger by working with these world-class drivers," said Rick England, chairman of the Feed The Children board of directors. "Their efforts will allow more families to put food on the table and help us provide a solution to those hard hit by the current economy."
The four other past winners of the event will return and try again to beat Stewart at the track he owns. Kenny Wallace won the inaugural event in 2005 and has competed in each race, while NASCAR superstars Carl Edwards (2007), Jimmie Johnson (2010) and defending champion Clint Bowyer will all return.
"We have the most diverse group of drivers we've ever had for the Prelude, and for the first time, the Prelude will be broadcast in high-definition," said Stewart, a three-time winner of the Prelude To The Dream. "This year's event is going to be a can't-miss show. We've added 10 laps to the feature and partnered with a great charity in Feed The Children. You're going to see some intense racing by every one, including some drivers completely out of their comfort zone. We'll all be racing for a trophy, but also to make an impact with the more than 16 million children who are at risk of going hungry right here in America."
The 2012 edition of the Prelude To The Dream will again see hot laps, qualifying and heat races before the 40-lap main event, featuring double-file "shootout style" restarts.
New participants this year include IndyCar-turned-NASCAR star Danica Patrick, World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series champions Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz as well as 2011 Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) champion Ty Dillon. NHRA drag racing stars Cruz Pedragon and Ron Capps will join Stewart, Wallace and Ken Schrader as the only five drivers to have competed in every Prelude To The Dream.
Also this year, brothers will compete against each other for the first time in the race. Ty Dillon will join his brother Austin in the field while Kurt and Kyle Busch have both ran the event previously, but will compete against each other for the first time.
Other drivers competing are Ryan Newman, Justin Algaier, Aric Almirola, Dave Blaney, Bill Elliott, Ray Evernham, David Gilliland, Kasey Kahne, Tony Kanaan, Bobby Labonte, Jason Leffler and last year's runner-up J.J. Yeley.
The first hot-lap session takes the track at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and the first heat is scheduled to begin just after the Pay Per View coverage begins at 8 p.m. The racing card will also feature an invitation-only feature event for the UMP DirtCar Modifieds as well as the Eldora Stock Cars.