ROSSBURG — Ron Capps looked around from his director style folding chair with a horde of media members surrounding him, logos splashed behind him and a growing crowd filling in Eldora Speedway’s stands and marveled at the growth of the Prelude to the Dream.
Capps has driven in all seven Prelude events at the Rossburg track. When it started Capps simply hopped in another driver’s Dirt Late Model ride without much training, set-up or testing.
“The first year I showed up here and I used the car of a guy who was six-foot-two and 240 pounds,” Capps, an NHRA funny car driver listed at 5-8 and 150 pounds. “I had a couple of phone books from Cincinnati under me to drive. Truly, that was the way it was. It was Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace. Just a couple of NASCAR guys. It’s like being a brother with Tony, watching this thing grow.”
Now drawing racers from multiple racing platforms and particpation from many of the top drivers on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit, Tony Stewart’s charity race each June gets the top-shelf treatment that Clint Bowyer won on Wednesday night.
“My dad raced here long ago and I’d read all the stories about it so for me Eldora was always kind of a mythical place,” Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards said before the race.
Bowyer led from start to finish of the 30-lap Prelude to the Dream event on Wednesday night to capture his first win in the charity race.
“It’s just so much fun to be able to come here and compete,” Bowyer said after the victory “What an awesome racetrack. I’ve always loved this place and I’m very proud of Tony Stewart and everybody behind him that makes this event awesome.”
The race raises money for four children’s hospitals around the country.
“There’s no tension tonight,” Edwards said. “And the great thing is it’s all for a great cause. There’s no pressure. If something happens on the first lap of the race, I’ll still have fun and know I did something great.”
The host of the event and owner of the track said he looks forward to racing in Rossburg every year.
“It’s fun to have events where we can run without worrying about the things we usually worry about during Cup races that pay our way,” Tony Stewart said. “Tonight’s about having fun and remembering what it was like when we were driving all night to get to the next night’s race and make enough money to get to the next race.”
Bowyer fended off fJ.J. Yeley and Aric Almirola for the victory.
The Team St. Louis grouping of Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Bobby Labonte, Justin Allgaier, Kenny Wallace, Ron Hornaday and Ricky Carmichael were atop the team standings on the end of the night, meaning that the St. Louis’ children’s hospital will receive 30 percent of the television pay-per-view proceeds. Children’s hopsitals from three other cities will receive 25 and 20 percent of the proceeds.
While rain had been the story at the two previous Preludes, hot, dry temperatures made for a fast track on Wednesday night.
“It’s been 95 to 100 degrees here for over a week,” Bowyer said. “Under those conditions, it’s going to take the moisture out of it.”
ROSSBURG - Results Wednesday of the seventh annual Prelude to the Dream Dirt Late Model event June 8 at the half-mile Eldora Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (1) Clint Bowyer, 30
2. (4) J.J. Yeley, 30
3. (2) Aric Almirola, 30
4. (10) Kyle Busch, 30
5. (5) Justin Allgaier, 30
6. (6) Ricky Carmichael, 30
7. (8) Ken Schrader, 30
8. (13) Austin Dillon, 30
9. (12) Ryan Newman, 30
10. (11) Kasey Kahne, 30
11. (21) Denny Hamlin, 30
12. (17) David Reutimann, 30
13. (14) Matt Kenseth, 30
14. (18) Brian Vickers, 30
15. (9) Carl Edwards, 30
16. (27) Kenny Wallace, 30
17. (20) Ron Capps, 30
18. (28) Jimmie Johnson, 30
19. (16) Cruz Pedregon, 30
20. (26) Tony Stewart, 30
21. (19) David Gilliland, 30
22. (22) Bill Elliott, 30
23. (24) Bobby Labonte, 30
24. (3) Marcos Ambrose, 30
25. (25) Ray Evernham, 21, Mechanical
26. (23) Ron Hornaday, 20, Mechanical
27. (15) Tony Kanaan, 18, Lost Wheel
28. (7) Jason Leffler, 16, Accident
Winner’s average speed: 45.285 mph
Time of race: 19:52.459
Margin of victory: .531 of a second
Lead changes: None
Cautions: (Lap 10: Debris; Lap 13: Evernham, Hornaday Spin T3; Lap 19: Kanaan Lost Wheel; Lap 20 Labonte, Hornaday Spin T4) Leaders: Bowyer 1-30