ROSSBURG, Ohio— Stewart Friesen was the fastest qualifier in the fifth annual Eldora Dirt Derby from Eldora Speedway. This is his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole.

Friesen will start P1 in the first qualifying race. Friesen posted a speed of 90.000 mph at 20.000 seconds.

After moving to a backup car after practice, Chase Briscoe posted a speed of 89.383 mph. Kaz Grala was third fastest at 89.202 mph. Christopher Bell was third fastest at 89.038 mph. Noah Gragson was fifth fastest at 88.933 mph.

The No. 44 Martins Motorsports of JR Heffner withdrew after blowing up an engine during qualifying.

Here is how the heats will look:

 

Race 1

Stewart Friesen

Justin Shipley

John Hunter Nemechek

Jeffrey Abbey

Bobby Pierce

Grant Enfinger

Norm Benning

 

Race 2

Chase Briscoe

Matt Crafton

Ben Rhodes

Austin Cindric

Max Johnston

Wendell Chavous

Cody Coughlin

 

Race 3

Kaz Grala

Ryan Truex

Harrison Burton

Justin Haley

Ray Ceccarelli

JJ Yeley

Tommy Regan

 

Race 4

Christopher Bell

Caleb Holman

Johnny Sauter

Sheldon Creed

Ken Schrader

Korbin Forrister

 

Race 5

Noah Gragson

Rico Abreu

Chris Windom

Ty Dillon

Brandon Hightower

Mike Harmon

 

The qualifying races will air on Fox Sports 2 at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The main event will air on Fox Business Network at 9:30 p.m ET.

NEW WESTON, Ohio— In a mid-week spectacle, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series thunders to Eldora Speedway for the Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio. This race will feature qualifying, five heats, and a main event. The main event will be broken into stage lengths of 40, 50, and 60 laps.

For qualifying, teams will go in order of a random draw. Teams will complete two laps of single car runs. The fastest driver will be awarded the Keystone Pole Award at the end of the qualifying session. Qualifying determines what heat a driver will be in.

Each heat will consist of 10 green flag laps only. The top-five in each heat will be automatically entered into the main feature. Those drivers who do not advance will compete in the last chance heat. The last chance heat will be 15 green flag laps, where the top-two finishers will advance. The rest of the field will be filled per the rule book.

In the main event, the caution laps between stages will not count. Teams will have the option to pit during the caution. Teams who chose to pit will start behind those who did not pit. Positions cannot be improved on pit road.

There have been four events at Eldora Speedway. There have been four different pole winners and race winners. No races have been won from the pole position. In 2013, Austin Dillon set the race record at 67.401 mph. Ken Schrader set the qualifying record in 2013 at 91.329 mph.

Drivers are excited for a new challenge this week.

"Last year Eldora was a lot of fun. I think the fans really enjoy seeing the Truck Series race on dirt, it adds some excitement to the summer stretch. This is Harrison's first race on dirt so we are just going to go out there and do our best and see how he does in practice and qualifying. Harrison is smart and a quick learner, so I am confident Wednesday night will be a fun one to watch,” said Harrison Burton.

"I don't know if any of my dirt track experience from ARCA is going to help me in Eldora. The tracks I've run at, DuQuoin and Springfield, in the ARCA Racing Series are one mile, flat tracks, and Eldora is obviously a short track with some high banking. So, its definitely going to be different, but I am really looking forward to it,” said Grant Enfinger.

Qualifying will be held on Fox Sports 1 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. The heat races will air on Fox Sports 2 at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The main event will air on Fox Business Network beginning at 9:30 p.m. EDT. Motor Racing Network will have radio coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Fans who do not have Fox Business Network, but have Fox Sports 1 will be able to stream the Eldora Dirt Derby on the Fox Sports GO app, depending on if their provider has a contract.

Inspection issues

 

Once again, inspection issues plagued the qualifying sessions at Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

 

When qualifying began in the NASCAR Xfintiy Series, there were roughly 10 teams sitting in the inspection line at the LIS station. Luckily, all teams were able to make a lap in the session due to the cleanup from three spins on the racing surface.

 

However, Kyle Larson was not lucky during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying. The team went through the LIS at least four times before ultimately giving up as the clock ran out on qualifying.

 

At Kentucky, NASCAR began issuing tougher penalties to teams who decide they want to play games in inspection. One of the penalties was moving practice holds to the final practice session of the weekend. The sanctioning body is also looking at taking away a set of tires from teams. NASCAR is also taking away the “hard cards” of crew chiefs for a certain amount of time, forcing them to get paper credentials from each track.

 

NASCAR is keeping teams in check by forcing their hand when it comes to the inspection process. Teams called on NASCAR earlier in the season to keep a stiff hand.

 

Tire dragon

 

In an effort to make the racing better after a repave at Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) ran the tire dragon across the middle to lower grooves of the track.

 

However, when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams arrived to the track on Wednesday for practice, they were upset with where the speedway ran the tire dragon. The speedway confirmed they ran the tire dragon where they did last year based on the racing.

 

SMI officials were adamant that they knew what they were doing, until Friday. After more outcry from drivers, SMI ran the tire dragon in an eight foot section from the middle groove up before and after the postponed NASCAR Xfinity Series event.

 

After the Xfinity and Cup race, there was no noticeable difference in the racing based on where the track ran the tire dragon. The only difference was found from within the cockpit when drivers would get out of the bottom groove that the track would catch the car and not send the driver for a spin,

 

Competition cautions

 

With stage racing in place, competition cautions should have been deemed unnecessary especially with short stage lengths in the Truck and Xfinity series.

 

Despite rains throughout the day before the Truck race, NASCAR did not issue a competition caution. Why? The first and second stage had lengths of 35 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, there was a competition caution despite the opening stage lengths being only 45 laps.

 

NASCAR should look at potentially removing competition cautions in the Truck and Xfinity Series due to the shorter stage length. The stage lengths in these series is usually shorter than the length of a fuel run. Teams cannot fuel the car before the competition caution.

 

For the “old-school” fan in NASCAR, Kentucky Speedway offered what they wanted: the “good ole days.”

 

The older fan in NASCAR tends to focus on how “terrible” the racing is today and how back in the day during the era of Richard Petty and Bobby Allison was better than the on-track product NASCAR produces today.

 

The Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway mixed in the new and old age of NASCAR. The race at Kentucky Speedway was dominated by Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Busch, who combined led all but 10 laps during the race. 

 

Taking away the fact that this was a repave, this race reminded fans today of what NASCAR’s “golden” era provided, single file racing and barely any passes for the lead. 

 

NASCAR and Kentucky Speedway officials did their best effort by running the tire dragon in the middle and lower grooves before and during the race weekend, but that made no difference whatsoever in the overall quality of the event.

 

Across the board, everyone hates repaves on racetracks. However, new repaved lives matter. You have to applaud every plausible effort NASCAR and Kentucky Speedway did to make the racing here exciting, but the race did not provide that excitement. 

 

Despite being a new repave, NASCAR did not bring a new aero package to “test” at Kentucky Speedway. Did that change the potential of the race? Absolutely. 

 

Although there were bursts of excitement on the restarts, Kentucky Speedway provided single-groove racing. 

 

“I mean the track is to me, it’s just really lane sensitive, so you have to be right on the bottom it is pretty much the quickest way.  So, the restarts are all you’ve got.  I mean it’s Kentucky.  It was like this last year if I remember,” said Kasey Kahne. 

 

Did stage racing save the Quaker State 400 from absolute disaster? 

 

“Stage racing and all these restarts, the fact that it is so hard to pass there is just an environment that is created with this style of racing.  You’ve got to get everything you can on a restart and everybody is at ten tenths.  The old days of pointing someone by or maybe letting somebody go until your tires came in are long gone,” said Jimmie Johnson. 

 

What can be done to save racing on repaves? Brad Keselowski believes that something can be done with the cars. “It is time for the sport to design a new car that is worthy of where this sport deserves to be and the show it deserves to put on for its fans,” said Keselowski. 

 

Martin Truex, Jr. responded to Keselowski’s comments: “He's on the driver's council.  He's a big part of the lower downforce and he's a big part of the direction everybody is going.  So yeah, he was probably just mad because he got wrecked.”

 

NASCAR is working day in and day out to making the competition on the track better. Where will this lead us? Only time will tell! 

 

For the old school fan, this race should satisfy how great the racing was “back in the day” with follow the leader racing. If it wasn’t for the free pass and wave around, we could have saw only a handful of the cars on the lead lap instead of nine.

 

However, the racing we saw tonight at Kentucky Speedway, despite it being a repave, is not how the sport will attract the younger fan base, a base that NASCAR so desperately needs for it to be around in the future. It is time for the older fans to sit back and enjoy the racing we currently have.

 

SPARTA, Ky-- Before and after the Alsco 300, Kentucky Speedway, and NASCAR deemed it necessary to run the tire dragon in the middle groove, after complaints from the drivers.

 

Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney are two of the handful of drivers that will run in tonight’s Quaker State 400 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

 

“When I lost the lead on that last restart - when I slid up in three I didn’t wreck and I think I would have wrecked if the Tire Dragon wasn’t brought out. I was up in that third lane. I think that kind of saved me a little bit. I thought that was good. I saw that move made a couple times in the Truck race and people spun out. I didn’t see that today. I saw a lot of cars get loose and slide up to that lane and it kind of caught halfway and they were able to keep going,” said Blaney, who finished second in the Alsco 300. “Hopefully that will help out. I ran kind of high in one and two coming back through the field and it seemed to have some grip like half a lane up. It didn’t hurt at all getting that Tire Dragon out this morning. Hopefully tonight the Cup cars will get really slick on the bottom and we will be forced to move around. That is usually what happens and I am hopeful for that.”

 

“Yeah, until they oil down the backstretch and that lane getting into turn three, I thought the track was really racey. Hopefully they can burn that in a little bit more down the backstretch and that quick dry that they put down in order to take up some of that oil, they can burn that off and get it back to black instead of white. After that, it got to being about one groove again and I didn’t see anybody widening it out,” said Kyle Busch, Also 300 race winner. “You were afraid to get into the white stuff because the car will just take off up the race track on you. The other thing I saw was the race track was really good in one and two, it got really wide and definitely nothing out there to race in, but at least it’s safe if you do slip and get out there and you can still catch your car. There’s room for lapped cars to go out there and not feel that they’re going to crash. They were pretty mindful of the leaders today and we’ll see how all that goes tonight.

 

Running the tire dragon in the middle groove of the racetrack is reversal from Thursday afternoon!

 

"I think we know what we're doing," Steve Swift told NBC Sports in a Thursday interview.

 

The vice president of operations and development for Speedway Motorsports Inc. said they ran the tire dragon here at Kentucky Speedway after an overwhelming positive response from driver’s after the 2016 event.

 

"I think what a lot of drivers are forgetting is this track was resurfaced," Swift said. "It's a brand new racetrack. So on a new track, you have to put rubber down in what is the groove, not what you want the groove to be."

 

Track officials plan to run an eight-foot-side section in the middle of the turns, working upwards.