By admin | June 11, 2010
By Richard Allen
Forget about the qualifying session for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at the Michigan International Speedway. The most important qualifying session for NASCAR Sprint Cup star Tony Stewart on Friday was a little further south at the Eldora Speedway, a track which he owns. The Eldora track is located in Rossburg, Ohio.
By posting the second fastest time of the evening, behind former Richard Childress Racing development driver Tim McCreadie, Stewart assured himself of a starting spot in the most lucrative dirt late model race of the year, the Dream 100. The race pays $100,000 to the winner.
“It’s nice to know that I can at least concentrate on taking care of the car in the heat race and just worry about what we’ve got to do in the main event tomorrow night,” Stewart said after his run.
Because he will have two Sprint Cup practice sessions in Michigan to focus on tomorrow, Stewart will not have the distraction of worrying about whether he will even make the field for The Dream.
After qualifying, the 104 cars attempting to make the field for dirt late model racing’s most lucrative event will be broken into six heat races. The top-3 finishers from those races transfer to the main event. Those who finish outside the top-3 in the heats will have a final chance to make the big race through a B-main and a C-main. The top-2 fastest qualifiers who do not otherwise make the race get in on provisionals. Due to the fact that he was second fastest qualifier Stewart is assured of entry into the race via that provisional rule.
Last year, Stewart ran at the front of the field for a number of laps in this race only to fade to a final result of 6th place. Eventual winner Jimmy Owens passed he and dirt legend Scott Bloomquist on the same lap to grab the lead on his way to victory.
Some dirt racing fans and drivers have voiced resentment toward Stewart racing in this and other late model races saying that the wealthy NASCAR star is taking money away from guys who must earn a living here while other fans and competitors welcome his presence because of the added attention given the sport because of his participation.
So why does Stewart race in these events?
“If you have a good night with these guys then you know you’ve done something,” he says.
By the way, Stewart qualified 17th in Michigan.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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