FUN FACTOR FUELS PHILANTHROPY AT ELDORA GILLETTE YOUNG GUNS PRELUDE TO THE DREAM IS ALL ABOUT FUN FOR DRIVERS ROSSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 8, 2009) -- Ask any driver for just one word to describe racing in the Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the...
FUN FACTOR FUELS PHILANTHROPY AT ELDORA
GILLETTE YOUNG GUNS PRELUDE TO THE DREAM IS ALL ABOUT FUN FOR DRIVERS
ROSSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 8, 2009) -- Ask any driver for just one word to describe racing in the Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio and the response is almost unanimous: "Fun."
For many stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the yearly jaunt to central Ohio for the Prelude is a favorite stop. The race takes them back to their racing roots, for it's short track racing at its finest. There is beating and banging and rooting and gouging, and in the end, everyone gets out of their respective cars with big smiles on their faces, laughing and telling stories -- "Did you see when this or that happened...?"
At Wednesday night's fifth annual Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream, there could be more emphasis than ever on the fun part. That's because the race -- rescheduled from its original June 3 date after persistent rain forced the event to be postponed -- is now just three days before one of the biggest NASCAR weekend's on the circuit: the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. There, 11 drivers are vying for the remaining eight spots in the 12-driver Chase for the Championship, which will only be determined once the checkered flag drops at Richmond.
Of those 11 drivers, six are competing in the Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream -- Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch and David Reutimann. With only 122 points separating fifth-place Carl Edwards from 14th-place Busch, this year's Chase is the most hotly contested since its inception in 2004.
So the timing for the rescheduled Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream couldn't be any better.
For one night, the drivers don't have to focus on points. There's no Chase-clinching scenario that they have to worry about. There's no top-12. Instead, Wednesday night at Eldora is about some of the best drivers in motorsports competing in dirt late model stock cars for a trophy and bragging rights among their peers.
"Eldora is always a fun event and everyone enjoys themselves," said Kahne, currently sixth in the championship standings with a 96-point lead over 13th-place Vickers and winner of the Sprint Cup Series' most recent race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "It's not a points race or anything like that, so the fans are going to see the fun side of it."
If only for a few hours, Kahne, along with Gillette Young Guns colleagues Newman, Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer, will escape from the pressure cooker of grabbing one of the remaining spots available in the Chase. And with just Richmond remaining for drivers to secure their spot among the top-12, emotions are running high.
"We go to Eldora for the fun of it. There's no pressure there -- just fun," said Newman, currently ninth in points, 81 markers ahead of 13th-place. "Eldora is just amazing. The excitement, the speed, the raw energy that comes out of that racetrack makes the track special and this race special.
"We're there to put on a show for the fans and for the people watching on TV," added the driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. "We just go out there and do our best and have fun, and it really is an amazing experience."
Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, hopes his third trip to Eldora will be just a notch better than his result in 2007 when he finished second to race winner and Gillette Young Guns member Carl Edwards. But if a win isn't in Busch's immediate future at Eldora, that's okay, because for him, the evening's atmosphere is enough to make the experience one of his most relaxing and enjoyable nights of the year.
"This sort of takes us back to our roots," said Busch, currently 14th in the standings and just 37 points outside the Chase. "This takes us back to our local Saturday night short track. We're able to hang out in the pits and mix and mingle with each other and the show moves along -- it keeps going. It's just a neat atmosphere. We're just there having a good time. We're like what we were in the local short-track days, and it brings back sweet memories."
Since the fifth annual Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream is sold-out, Newman recommends that fans buy the live broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View.
"For anybody out there who enjoys NASCAR, we are taking it back to where we all started with big-name drivers at a great racetrack and you should check it out," Newman said. "It's a blast. As drivers, we sit in the coach lot and we watch re-runs of the race. We will make an effort to watch the re-runs of our race at the dirt track just because we have so much fun that night."
The live, commercial-free broadcast will begin at 7 p.m. EDT (4 p.m. PDT) with an immediate replay at 11 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. PDT). HBO Pay-Per-View's racing telecast has a suggested retail price of $24.95 and is available to more than 71 million pay-per-view homes. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming in the pay-per-view industry. Ordering information and up-to-the minute racing information is available at www.hbo.com.
This year's Prelude will benefit four entities that cater to severely injured military personnel or fallen soldiers and their families -- Wounded Warrior Project, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Operation Homefront and Fisher House. Each has a mission that outlines assistance to the courageous men and women who serve their country and need additional support both during and after their time of service.