Thursday, July 24th, 2014
By Mike Ernst
Wallace comes through for Eldora win
NCWTS 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora
ROSSBURG - Darrell Wallace Jr. led 97 of the final 100 laps of Wednesday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway and became the second winner of the NASCAR's only dirt-track race of the year.
Wallace, who led at the end of each of the race's three segments, had to withstand repeated challenges from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Larson over the final 25 laps. In battling with Wallace, Larson repeatedly bounced his machine off the Eldora concrete before one final bounce off the turn-four wall ended his night just two laps from the finish.
"That's so cool! On the dirt at Eldora," Wallace said from victory lane. "The coolest thing about it is I came into this hoping we'd finish in the top five. I was worried about the Toyota streak. I am not going to lie."
It was the second win of the season for the 20-year old Wallace and his Kyle Busch Motorsports team and the 12th consecutive win for a Toyota Tundra in the Truck Series. It was also Wallace's third career win.
He took the lead from Truck Series star Ron Hornaday on lap 49 and led the field the remainder of the first 60-lap segment when the trucks came to a halt for pit stops.
On the restart, Wallace shot out to the lead and led the entire 50-lap segment while Hornaday, Larson and Ty Dillon battled for the runner-up spot.
On lap 87, Dillon and Larson made contact in turn two, causing Larson to spin around. Larson corrected and continued on, but Dillon suffered a flat tire, essentially ending his bid for the victory.
"I'm not sure exactly what happened there, but I was making a run on below Kyle. He came down a little and we touched," Dillon said. "He spun around but he must have just caught me and cut our tire down."
Wallace restarted the final 40-lap segment from the front and quickly pulled out to a 10-truck length advantage, before Larson could finally pass and eventually pull away from a determined Hornaday.
Larson quickly ate into Wallace's advantage and on lap 128 dove below and slid up in front of Wallace. Larson bounced off the wall in turn two and into the lead, but as quickly as he took the lead, the caution flag flew for the seventh and final time in the event.
Immediately on the restart on lap 133, Wallace made a similar move on Larson sliding up in front of the leader, while Larson made contact again with the turn-one wall.
Wallace would not relinquish the lead again but not without a determined effort from Larson, who swept the 2011 USAC Four Crown Nationals at Eldora at 19 years old in his very first race at the speedway. Larson continually bounced off the Eldora concrete as he pursued Wallace before one final hard blow ended his night two laps short of the checkered flag, finishing 26th.
"Thanks to Turner Scott Motorsports for building a strong truck to make it last as long as it did," Larson said. "I didn't realize how stupid I was driving. ... It was probably the only dirt race I will get to run all year but Darrell did a really good job. He was fast all day today and he ran close to the wall the whole time and never really hit it. After that last restart, I just kept getting sucked into the fence every time I'd get close to the cushion."
Hornaday battled near the front all night but had to settle for second place at the finish.
"Congratulations to Bubba (Wallace) and his team," Hornaday said. "I just want to thank Tony Stewart and his group here for putting this show on and giving us a great race track. You could run all over out there."
Second generation driver Ryan Blaney, the son of two-time Kings Royal winner and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dave Blaney, finished in third-place and, in doing so, took the series points lead away from defending series champion Matt Crafton.
"We struggled for forward drive a lot and we were getting killed off the corners," Blaney said. I'm happy to come out of here with a top-three finish and the points lead."
The 59-year-old Ken Schrader finished in fourth place, while Ty Dillon worked his way all the way to a top-five finish.
"I might have had a shot at Darrell if we could have gotten a caution," Dillon said. "I love dirt racing. After all the cars we passed and having the night we had, I still had a great time and we will be back."
Completing the top ten were John Hunter Nemechek, Jeb Burton, Johnny Sauter, Crafton and defending race winner Austin Dillon. Heat races were won by fast qualifier Erik Jones, Burton, Hornaday and Blaney.
Nearly a half-hour after the race, Wallace was still in awe of what he had accomplished.
"It is so cool winning on the dirt at Eldora! It is awesome here!" Wallace said.
Steve Casebolt picked up the win for the second consecutive night in the late model main event. Casebolt passed Bobby Pierce just past half way in the 25-lap feature event and then withstood heavy lapped traffic to pick up the win. Pierce, Matt Miller, Jeep VanWormer and Brian Ruhlman completed the top five.
St. Henry's Bill Dues' two-car team featuring Jacob Hawkins and Duane Chamberlain, finished sixth and ninth respectively.
Eldora's next event is the Monster Jam featuring the Monster Trucks on August 1 and 2. The next racing action is the second Family Fun Night of the season on August 9.
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