Austin Dillon celebrates with track owner Tony Stewart in Victory Lane after winning the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Dayton Daily News, Greg Lynch)
INDIANAPOLIS — The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series stop at Eldora Speedway this week created a lot of buzz that still hasn’t died down.
The Ohio race was the first for NASCAR on a dirt-only track since Sept. 30 1970. Some drivers in Indianapolis for this weekend’s Brickyard race were talking Friday about a possible Sprint Cup Series race at the track — someday.
Clint Bowyer, who is second in the Sprint Cup standings, was part of the broadcast of Wednesday’s event on Speed TV. A part of him wanted to be in Eldora racing.
“Basically, I was stuck in a cage in there in the Hollywood Hotel with my world racing out there and it was really hard to sit there and watch,” he said. “I thought the racing was good. Everybody was thinking, ‘Man, why is the track so dry-slick?’ It led to good racing.”
Jeff Gordon watched every minute of it, too. Dale Earnhardt Jr. tried. He was on his way to New York and didn’t get to see the finish.
“I had it recorded on my TV and it recorded an hour and a half of it, so I didn’t get to see the last segment,” he said. “It was some kind of communication error. But that was disappointing, to say the least, because I had pretty much cut off all contact with anyone who might ruin the outcome for me.”
He never got to see Austin Dillon capture the win. But a sold-out crowd at the half-mile dirt track owned by Tony Stewart saw everything. So did 1.4 million viewers on Speed TV.
But the portion of the race Earnhardt was able to enjoy was enough to make an impact.
“It was entertaining and exciting and something that was something that I hope to see more of,” he said. “Just from a viewer’s standpoint.”
The race was a hit for everyone.
“Everywhere I’ve gone this week I’ve had people that are huge NASCAR fans and people that aren’t big NASCAR fans at all that watched it,” Gordon said. “And they were blown away. They did not expect it to go the way that it did.”
And with the excitement that surrounded the race brings up a question: Is there a future at Eldora with NASCAR?
NASCAR officials say they’re hopeful. Stewart was on hand for the race and wouldn’t mind seeing a future at his track with the series.
“The logical thing is, NASCAR will go back and evaluate how the two days went. We, as a company, will do the same thing,” Stewart said after the race.
For his part, Earnhardt would like to see an exhibition race, not a full-blown Sprint Cup event. Gordon disagreed.
“You know what I would love to see? A Cup race at Eldora,” Gordon said. “I don’t think you will ever see a Cup race there, at least not while I’m driving, but I would certainly vote for it. I think it would be very cool to do.”
Even if Gordon were still racing, he may not want to drive there, he jokingly said.
“I think I would rather have Kyle Larson drive my car because I thought he was awesome,” he said. “He was unbelievable.”