IndyCar star Tony Kanaan said he felt more at home in his second appearance at the Prelude to the Dream, the Late Model dirt track race run for charity, although he still feels he needs more track time to be truly competitive. This year's race was won by NASCAR's Clint Bowyer (LEFT), who led all 30 laps in the feature race for drivers from various racing disciplines.
Bowyer had to fend off strong charges from J.J. Yeley and Aric Almirola to finally capture a victory in the prestigious race that's a who's who of racing's elite. After finishing second in the past two Prelude to the Dream events, Bowyer sealed his first Prelude triumph by 0.531sec over Yeley, a former USAC champion who has logged numerous laps at Eldora.
“It's just so much fun to be able to come here and compete,” said Bowyer, whose victory was presented live to the entire nation on HBO Pay-Per-View, with the net proceeds from the telecast supporting four of the nation's top children's hospitals. “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. There's a lot of hard work to put on something like this, and we are very lucky to have him put forth the effort.”
Stewart, owner of Eldora Speedway and a three-time Prelude victor, finished 20th in the race he created in 2005.
“We had another first-time winner tonight. That's what the fun part is,” said Stewart, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. “Watching Marcos Ambrose win his heat race and Jason Leffler win his heat race in their first time being here – that's the stuff that makes you smile, and it's fun to watch all these guys have a good time.”
Kanaan said had a better handle on his GEICO-sponsored Late Model, but...
“Last year everything was new, and I learned a little bit more this year," said Kanaan, who will return to his more familiar No. 82 KV Racing Technology-Lotus car this weekend for the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway. "We did much better as far a lap times and starting position. Last year, we finished the race. This year, we had a little bit of a problem. It's so much fun, and I have to thank Tony and the Eldora staff so much for inviting me again.
"I became a big fan of dirt racing last year. It was my first time in the car. This year was my second time in the car, so I've already talked with the guys on the team about testing over the winter. Hopefully, I'll get a little bit better before next year.”
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
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