For the fifth year in a row the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made their annual trip to Western Ohio for their one dirt race a year. The “Dirt Derby” aka Happy Eldora Day has been a fan favorite since it’s inception. Drawing Cup Stars, dirt track stars and giving Truck regulars a chance to prove themselves on racing’s toughest surface. Wednesday night at Eldora felt different this year, something was off and the event didn’t feel like an event for once. Just another race on the schedule.
Something Was Off
Something about Wednesday night felt off. This is supposed to be a marquee race for the Truck series, a mid week prime time show. Everything about the last 4 races at Eldora has been great. From the track, the racing, the personalities. Maybe we were living in a cloud for the last 4 years and the race actually hasn’t been that great. This year’s race though lacked a great story, or a great show. Last year we had Kyle Larson come from a lap down to win. This year we had
Paul Menard Matt Crafton win which does nothing for anyone really.
The race itself seemed to be lacking, at least for me watching at home that’s where it felt rather meh. At times I felt like I was forcing myself to watch which isn’t ideal for one of the biggest races of the year. It could have been because the surface was too fast and didn’t really race like years past. Could have been the lack of great story lines which is really a Fox problem. But something was definitely off.
Pick A Channel
Holy balls, FOX. The ratings for this race are going to be trash because no one had any clue where to go. I knew it because I studied the schedule like I was cramming for a Thermal Dynamics exam. If you’re just a casual fan though there was no way in hell you were finding Fox Business Network. No one adventures that high in the channel guide.
Marcus Lemonis the owner of Camping World and the Trucks title sponsor voiced his displeasure as well.
— Marcus Lemonis (@marcuslemonis) July 20, 2017
Figure it out. Three different channels for qualifying, heats and the actual race. Each time going to a lesser and lesser channel.
Qualifying started at 5:15pm. Heats started at 7:33pm. The Race started at 9:47pm on a Wednesday.
That’s entirely too late to start a race on a Wednesday night. Not only for the people at home but for the people at the track. Roger Slack said over 60% of the people in attendance travel from over an hour away. Meaning they aren’t getting home until 1am at the earliest. If this was the weekend then who cares but not on a weeknight.
Dirt Guys Should Win This, Just Chill Out
Stewart Friesen, Christopher Bell and Bobby Pierce were definitely the best dirt guys in the field and one of them should have won. Bell spun out and got tagged by Kaz Grala knocking the toe out 5 inches on the right front but still drove back up to second. Pierce wrecked in the heat even though he was transferring to the main, they spun out in the race. Still recorded a good finish.
These dirt guys feel like they have something to prove. Which they kind of do but they’re so much better than all of these guys on dirt. Slow down, take the race as it comes and you’ll likely win more races. Friesen was the class of the field Wednesday night. Came home third. Chill out and race the track.
The first segment of this race was non existent. A 40 lap segment that was essentially run under caution. There was a lap 20 competition caution, for what? Granted a crash happened so they combined them but 23 of the 40 laps were run under caution.
39.3% of the race was run under caution. That’s crazy but at least the stage 2 caution was only 2 laps. Can’t figure that out on asphalt though. Just another figure it out example.
Parting thoughts, dirt racing is awesome but they really need to figure out how to make this event better. It’s a fun novelty but the show has to match that novelty. There weren’t a lot of guys throwing Rico or Larson style slide jobs. Too many guys were trying to run it like an asphalt track.
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