Carl Edwards Wins NEXTEL Prelude to the Dream presented by Old Spice at Eldora Speedway ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 6, 2007) -- Carl Edwards won the NEXTEL Prelude to the Dream presented by Old Spice dirt late model race June 6 at Eldora Speedway in...
Carl Edwards Wins NEXTEL Prelude to the Dream presented by Old Spice at Eldora Speedway
ROSSBURG, Ohio (June 6, 2007) -- Carl Edwards won the NEXTEL Prelude to the Dream presented by Old Spice dirt late model race June 6 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Edwards won the 30-lap race on the half-mile oval by .305 of a second over Kyle Busch. Jeff Gordon finished third.
"That's just unreal," Edwards said. "To win this race in front of so many folks is unreal. Everyone I know is watching it at home on HBO Pay-Per-View. They have people who bought it and they are all going over to their house. I'm sure everyone enjoyed it. I can't tell you how much it means to me to be able to support the Victory Junction Gang Camp and doing something this fun. It's awesome."
Edwards led all but two laps en route to victory, but had to contend with Gordon and Busch throughout much of the event. Gordon, who made his first appearance at Eldora since 1991, led lap 11 and challenged Edwards throughout most of the event.
"I've sweated out a lot of finishes in a dirt car when you can't see behind you," Edwards said. "The guy from Barry Wright race cars was giving me hand signals down there and he finally quit giving me signals. I knew they were right there on my tail."
There were three cautions during the event, although the laps conducted under caution did not count. The only major accident occurred on lap 17 when Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Kasey Kahne crashed in turn two. Labonte and Stewart, who finished 21st and 22nd, respectively, were done for the night. Kahne was able to continue and finished sixth.
The race was broadcast live on HBO Pay-Per-View with the proceeds from the groundbreaking telecast going to support the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Tony Stewart Foundation.
Carl Edwards, Winner:
Talk about the race with Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch
"That's just unreal. I've sweated out a lot of finishes in a dirt car when you can't see behind you. The guy from Barry Wright race cars was giving me hand signals down there and he finally quit giving me signals. I knew they were right there on my tail. To win this race in from of so many folks is unreal. Everyone I know is watching it at home on HBO. They have people who bought it and they are all going over to their house. I'm sure everyone enjoyed it. I can't tell you how much it means to me to be able to support the Victory Junction Gang Camp and doing something this fun. It's awesome. When Jeff (Gordon) got by me the first time I thought, dang, this isn't good. And then he slipped up a little bit and I got back by him and I thought this is fun. When it happened again and again I just couldn't believe it. That's really cool to get to race Jeff Gordon on dry, slick dirt track like this. It was definitely amazed at Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon. It's unreal to see how talented these guys are on dirt. It's neat to come out here and do something where everyone is on an even playing field and see how it turns out."
On the crowd reaction from his backflip.
"When we took the trucks around the track before the race, if there was 17,000 people up there then 10,000 of them were screaming for the backflip before the race even started. That's really cool to be able to do that and have people excited about it."
Kyle Busch , finished second (Running):
On his second-place finish and racing Jeff Gordon
"It was fun I had a blast. Racing with Jeff (Gordon) down the straightaway to get by him and finally I got outside of him so he couldn't slide up too much. I thought I had enough to get back to Carl (Edwards) but I just couldn't get the top to work and I started pushing the car too high and I was just too long of a way around. I had a great run on Jeff (Gordon) a bunch of times going down the front straightaway and I just had to stop because he was still spinning his tires. Carl (Edwards) had a couple of good runs on him there but on the bottom you could just carry your momentum through there. But my run from the start of the corner off just couldn't quite match their speed through the center."
Would you rather run 400 laps at Dover or 30 laps at Eldora?
"I'd much rather run 30 laps here because it's fun. I had a great experience because I had a great car and we had a bunch of guys helping out. It was a good race and I had a blast with it. I definitely had a lot of fun. I just want to thank all the guys on this team that prepared this car. I got into the wall a couple of times trying to squeeze to the outside of guys and it bend the tow a little bit but it didn't hurt it too much so I could still salvage on."
What makes this event so much fun for you guys?
"It's a weekday race but it's a lot like Saturday night racing where there is a 30 or 40 lap feature. I love being able to come out here and do this kind of stuff when I can. I felt like tonight I think I proved something to some of the people that didn't think I was a dirt racer. I know everyone wasn't scared that I knew how to hang it out there but that's on pavement but now it's on dirt."
Jeff Gordon , finished third (Running):
On his first appearance in the event
"It's great to be back at Eldora Speedway. We've done some midget races and some silver crown races in the past and I've run a winged sprint car here too. It was a good race car and I was just playing catch-up all night long. I was just trying to learn this type of a car but in the feature I was having a blast. It was just so cool to be a part of it. I think I only got past Carl (Edwards) once but it was just such an honor to come out here with these guys and to compete in this event for a great charity. It was about that and having fun."
On racing with Kyle Busch
"Kyle did a great job. Anyone who doesn't think that guy's talented needed to be here tonight. I've always known how talented he was and he was very convincing tonight. He's had a few run-ins with the wall here lately, but I've always known how talented that kid is. To see him come out here and do this well does not surprise me one bit. He did a great job, he blew by me on the outside and showed me a couple of things. I was trying to get back by him and get a little more."
On racing for the lead with Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch
"I got the lead and I was good once I got it. I was just so shocked when I got it. I was running the middle and Carl got back by me on the bottom. It was a great race and that's the most important part. I just lost a little bit of momentum there and I wasn't able to get it back.
Juan Pablo Montoya , finished 15th (Running):
You ran pretty well considering you knocked the front end out.
"I don't know what happened. Somebody just tangled up with me in one of the heats I just got pushed to the back. It didn't matter. We ran pretty good. Passed a few cars and got comfortable. I got that car pretty sideways. You know, 10-lap races, I though, 'Whew, they're pretty long.' And all of a sudden with 30 laps, I started getting in the groove and I started enjoying it a little bit and then it was, 'Oh, it's over.' So when I saw the white flag, I said, 'No!'"
When you think, 40-50 years ago, all the Champ car drivers used to race dirt -- it was how guys made a living. You might've had fun in that era.
"You know better than anybody how much I like having the car sideways, and actually to be sideways and in control is pretty cool."
What did you learn tonight?
"I picked up a lot of respect for the guys that run on dirt. It's very hard to appreciate how tough it is. It takes a lot, a lot, a lot. I've got to thank Tony (Stewart) and everybody that put on this event and raised all this money because it's just big."
You said you didn't know anything about this but you ran really well.
"I didn't do anything. I ran, what, seven laps of practice, qualifying and the races. That was all I've done in the dirt. I was getting the hang of it at the end. I felt pretty comfortable."
Tony Stewart , finished 22nd (Accident):
This was one heck of a night. Fans were trying to order the pay-per-view right up until the last minute. Drivers were psyched. You have to feel pretty good about it.
"I'm so honored that these guys came. It makes that five-and-a-half hours that I spent on the tractor seem like nothing now. These guys -- it showcases their talent and shows how they got to the Nextel Cup level and just really appreciative of all these drivers and HBO and Nextel and Old Spice for putting all of this together and making it such a big event. It's not me. It's not any one person. There are so many people that have been working on this -- not for weeks, but for months to get this all put together and get the logistics of it. Then when I got the time in my schedule I got the time to put my hands in it yesterday when I had a free day. There's so much stuff that happened to get ready for this that I have no concept of and I have no idea how hard and how much time it took to do. It just turned out to be a perfect night."
What were the highlights of the evening?
"I think from the time that we got in hot laps to the time they dropped the checkered flag, we got as much drama as I ever want to have in one of these Preludes with Bill (Elliott) and Ryan (Newman) tangling on the frontstraightaway. The support divisions were great and had great races. The heat races weren't the greatest races, but it let guys get more time. The semi-feature with Denny (Hamlin) on the top and I can't even remember who was on the bottom. In the main event, we weren't very good, but I got to watch a really good race in front of me. And then when I got in the crash, I got to watch a good finish from the infield. I was smiling and I wasn't even in the race anymore. It was really fun to watch everybody have a good time and to see these guys come up and say thanks for inviting us. That makes my day to see these guys come up and have fun."
This event has grown so much in the past three years, what are you going to beat this night?
"Drink a lot of beer tonight and then talk about it in the morning. I don't care tonight. After tonight, we'll obviously start now to get ready for next year. It makes me appreciate so much the Eddie Gossages (president, Texas Motor Speedway), the Ed Clarks (president of Atlanta Motor Speedway) and the Humpy Wheelers (president, Charlotte Motor Speedway) that have to put on two events a year and deal with the 10 times the amount of people that we've dealt with and all the logistics. I'm just thankful that we had a group of people like Old Spice and Nextel that wanted to do this because we wanted to do it. Not because they had to. Not because it was the greatest idea in the world. But they just wanted to be a part of it with us. And I'm so appreciative of that. And it was the same with the drivers. They wanted to do it because I wanted to do it and I just can't thank those guys enough for coming and spending the time to do this."
Are you surprised at how well some of the non-dirt drivers did tonight?
"Not, really. The first year when we had Matt Kenseth here was the second time he had ran on dirt and he was awesome. I think it shows all those people in the stands and the people who watched it on TV tonight why those guys got their opportunity in (Nextel) Cup cars, because they have natural driving ability. It makes for a good race out here when you see these guys. And it's fun for me. I had to take Juan (Montoya) down and just show him how to make the car go and how to get it in gear. And then to watch him out here on the track, he didn't look like a rookie out there at all. It took him about four laps to start figuring it out. And somebody like Jeff (Gordon), I told him weeks ago, I said, 'It's going to be like an old pair of shoes that you put on. You're not going to forget what it feels like. You're going to go, 'Oh yeah, I remember now.' And he almost wins the race. It was exciting to see all that and see how much fun they all had."
Aric Almirola , finished 11th (Running):
Regarding his first Prelude event.
"It was awesome man; it was a lot of fun. I just want to thank the team for bringing this car out tonight. It was an awesome car and I'll definitely be back. This was just a really neat deal and I'm already looking forward to coming back next year."
Describing his first time at Eldora Speedway:
"This was my second time on dirt and it was quite an experience. I really need to practice more before we come back. Eldora Speedway is just awesome, it's probably one of the nicest dirt facilities I've ever been to and I've been to quite a few growing up watching my grandfather race on dirt tracks. Tony's done a hell of a job with this racetrack, it's an awesome facility. I can't wait until next year."
David Reutimann , finished ninth (Running):
Regarding his first Prelude event.
"It was great. The guys brought me a fabulous car. They worked their butts on it all day long, changing stuff because the driver didn't know how to drive it right. I don't know what we ended up finishing but we didn't tear the guy's car up which is big for me because they've got a big race coming up here in a couple of days and they don't need to be fixing stuff that I tore up.
Regarding Domino's as a sponsor for the event.
"It was great to have Domino's back on board again and I think we got them a little more exposure tonight. We raised a lot of money for a couple of great charities tonight and I had the time of my life. It's a win-win all the way across."
His thoughts on Eldora Speedway.
"It's a great racetrack; the place has so much history. The fact that Tony was able to make this deal what it is, my hat's off to him because it's a lot of legwork for him and his entire organization to make this happen. This is not a small deal by any means; it's the biggest dirt race I've ever been associated with. It's not really a race, so to speak, but it's great that we get to do this and that we get to race against a lot of guys that are out of their element as well. It was just a lot of fun."
Ray Evernham , finished 23rd (Spin, turn two):
Regarding his first visit to Eldora.
"It's like going to Indianapolis for the first time. You hear so much about the place and then to be able to be on the track with these great drivers was really a dream for me. I wish I could've done a little better, I told Tony that he needs to move the fourth turn wall out about another 12 inches for me. Another 12 inches and I can get around here a little better. I hit the fourth turn wall several times tonight."
About having Erin Crocker as a driving coach for the evening.
"It was great to have someone who has raced here trying to help me out. She tried to help me all night, but I think she was getting a little frustrated with me. I'd mash the gas pedal too hard and spin the wheels. Just having my photo taken with the drivers that were competing was well worth it."
Denny Hamlin , finished 16th (Running):
About how his second time around at Eldora Speedway ended up.
"It was a lot of fun; I was starting to get the hang of it at there at the end. I didn't really have what it took to run with those boys up front. Those guys were really good and regardless of that it was really cool to be here because it was all for charity.
"The track was great. It was really smooth and it was amazing how good of condition the surface ended up in at the end of the night. Some guys were running high, some were running low, and it was really racy.
Kasey Kahne , finished sixth (Running):
Regarding the incident with Tony Stewart.
"Labonte and Kyle Busch got together and Bobby ended up almost stopping so I hit him and then Tony hit us. Everyone slowed down once they got together and that's what started it. I hit the wall in three and four and peeled my spoiler back, or Tony did it when we hit. But we had a blast, I'm so happy I came and I hope I can come back next year."
How impressive was the crowd in attendance at Eldora Speedway tonight.
"I don't know if I've ever seen that many people here. I mean, I've seen a lot of people at King's Royal events, there was a great crowd here for that event last year. But this is a pretty big crowd. I think we raised a lot of money for the Victory Junction Gang camp tonight.
Ryan Newman , finished 18th (Running):
On the outcome of his second late model event at Eldora Speedway.
"I had a blast. I wish I could've had a better race but I still had some stuff that was bent on the car when we got it back out there. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the heat race; it was spectacular but I just think too many things were messed up for the feature and I didn't have anywhere to go. I plan on racing the Jasper car a few more times again this year so we'll get another shot at it."
About the number of fans the Prelude to the Dream event draws into Eldora Speedway.
"I can't say I remember ever seeing this many people here, not even for this event last year. My Dad has told me stories when they used to line cars up around here and now they had twice as many cars deep. It was neat to see."
Kenny Wallace , finished 13th (Running):
Regarding how much fun he had as a competitor in the Nextel Prelude to the Dream.
"I enjoyed myself, but as a competitor, I would have liked to run as well as we did here the first year. We were first here a few years ago and this is the worst we've run. This has turned into a pretty big competition and I had a real good time running the car. Tony put on a hell of a show here; the races were great throughout the night and for the lead. I had the time of my life."
On how serious the competitors are about winning the event.
"The thing about this deal is that everyone comes here like, ha-ha, whatever, but it isn't really that way. It is all about having fun but you want to run good. I wish we would've have run better tonight but this is my one and only late model and if I want to run better I need to buy more stuff.
Regarding next year's strategy.
"I'm going to come back next year with another car and have my stuff together and win the damn thing. I know what I need to do; I've just got to spend a little more money."