AWESOME!…That single word is what best describes Eldora Speedway and the annual Dream 100.
On June 8-9th Eldora once again was a playground for the best of the best in the world of Dirt Late Model drivers. Ninety-Eight high compression, dirt throwing, wind whipping Late Models filled the pits for the event, each driver hoping to land a spot in victory lane holding a $100,000.00 check and the honor of having won one of dirt track racings crown jewel events.
This year’s Dream format was a little different than years past thanks to a great new sponsorship from Ferris Commercial Mowers. Ferris put up $1000 payday for the winner of each qualifying event which shook up the program. Instead of two rounds of qualifying followed by non-qualifiers events, this year the top 60 qualifiers after rounds 1 & 2 were locked into Saturday nights heat races, while qualifiers 61 on back had to race their way up for a better starting spot through one of three Friday night qualifying events.
The new format definitely made for some excitement as $1000 and full UMP points was on the line for each event and although the racing was tight, the first caution flag of the evening didn’t fly until 15-laps into the third 20-lapper.
The excitement didn’t diminish with the dawning of Saturday; in fact the intensity was almost palpable as the first heat race rolled onto the speedway. On an ever changing track with no pre-race hot lap sessions, set-up is a definite challenge, but time and time again it has been proven that these drivers and crews are more than ready for the challenge.
In heat #1 favorites Jimmy Owens (no.20) & Jared Landers (no.5) got caught up in a mid-race malay that ended the nights of both and Owen’s bid for the most consecutive Dream starts which came to a halt at eight.
Heat #6 proved to be the most action packed as drivers were vying for the win and its corresponding coveted #1 starting spot for the nights 100-lap Main Event. Although Jimmy Mars (no.28) and Dale McDowell (no.17) battled side by side for second as they hunted down Brian Shirley’s no.3 machine, with just a handful of laps left things went terribly wrong. Mars ended up on top of the front stretch wall and took a wild ride that included getting caught on a support bar and having the car whip around and begin a series of barrel rolls. Thankfully Mars emerged from the car unscathed, but his no.28 will never be the same for sure.
The intensity rose as Tyler Reddick made a valiant drive in the B-Main to earn his spot as the youngest Dream 100 Main Event competitor. At 16-years Reddick has proven his driving skills behind the wheel of the no.11, but 2012 marked the first year that he was eligible to compete at the famed ½-mile and he made an excellent showing.
With the A-Main set to roll out and fireworks lighting the night sky, 26 amazing competitors took to the track to do battle and although several hard charging drivers made many attempts nobody could beat Georgia’s Shane Clanton.
Clanton was smooth and flying in his no.25 Capitol Race Car chassis in route to the biggest payday of his career. The former World 100 victor also joined the company of very few who have been able to pick up both of Eldora’s famed Late Model events.
Whether the race is a crown jewel event or a three-in-one show there is no such thing as a typical Saturday night at Eldora Speedway. With amazing concessions, reasonable gate prices, an awesome announcer in Dustin Jarrett and on-track action that is unparallel, Eldora Speedway is an AWESOME place to be.