Eldora Speedway will set the scene for Danica Patrick’s long awaited dirt track debut, when she joins Ryan Newman, Bobby Labonte, Kenny Wallace, Ty Dillon and Aric Almirola in the third installment of roster announcements for the Wednesday, June 6 running of Tony Stewart’s “Feed The Children Prelude to the Dream,” bringing the total of announced superstar drivers to 18.
Patrick turned a few laps on dirt in a go kart at age 10, but has
never competed on dirt in a stock car.
“I raced on dirt once before, but that’s about it,” said
Patrick. “It’s going to be a challenge for sure, but I know Tony has offered to
help in any way possible. I’m excited about it, but I’m also nervous. It’s a
totally different style of racing, so I’m not sure what to expect. But, it’s
for a great cause with Feed The Children benefiting from the money raised this
year, so I’m ready to give it a shot.”
Newman, meanwhile, is no stranger to either the dirt or short
track wars. His early career found him blazing throughout the Midwest en route
to an amazing 170 feature wins in USAC Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown
competition. However, he has yet to claim a victory at Eldora and that is a
statistic the 15-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner wants to change. This will mark
his seventh Prelude appearance, with a fourth-place finish in 2009 his best showing
Inside knowledge is no problem for Labonte. The 2000 NASCAR
Sprint Cup champion fields a successful short-track dirt Late Model team for
driver Earl Pearson, Jr., who has a Eldora World 100 win at Eldora to his
credit. Pearson will coach Labonte throughout the evening, as the 21-time
Sprint Cup winner makes his seventh Prelude appearance.
With his ever-present smile and quick wit, Wallace returns to
the Prelude as a fan favorite. As the youngest of the famed racing Wallace
siblings, Kenny has had no trouble following in their successful footsteps. He won
the main event in his first-ever attempt, after strapping into a Street Stock
in 1982. When when the Prelude to the Dream was first introduced in 2005, Wallace
claimed the inaugural win. While he is a regular on the tough NASCAR Nationwide
Series circuit, he remains a frequent dirt racer, claiming four feature wins in
the month of February alone.
Another driver follow in an older brother’s footsteps is Ty
Dillon, brother of Austin and grandson of legendary car owner Richard
Childress. As Austin sets new standards, Ty attempts to meets or exceed them.
He won the 2011 ARCA Racing Series National championship, then kicked off the
2012 campaign by capturing the UNOH DIRTcar Modified Nationals in Florida. He
now sets his sights on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title that older
brother Austin earned in a year ago. Ty got a taste of Eldora during the 2011
World 100, where he finished a creditable eighth in the B-Main in his
first-ever visit to the famed half-mile clay oval.
Almirola’s career began with go karts in 1992, and he has
steadily climbed the competitive ladder through modifieds to the Joe Gibbs
Diversity program, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and now the renowned Petty
Motorsports #43 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He is quickly adapting to that
team, with a twelve-place finish at Phoenix two weeks ago. He has made six
previous Prelude starts, with last year’s strong third place finish his best
Race fans can catch the behind-the-scenes preparation for the
event by following the track, event, charity, drivers and officials on Twitter:
@EldoraSpeedway, @PreludetoDream, @FeedTheChildren, @DanicaPatrick,
@RyanNewman39, @Bobby_Labonte, @Kenny_Wallace, @tydillon, @aric_almirola. Joining
them will be previously announced drivers Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Kurt
Busch, Dave Blaney, Tony Kanaan, Ron Capps, Jimmie Johnson, Just Allgaier, Bill
Elliott, Ray Evernham, David Gilliland and Cruz Pedregon.
Tickets and campsites for the Feed The Children Prelude to the
Dream and all other 2012 Eldora Speedway Major Events including the
$100,000-to-win Dirt Late Model Dream presented by Ferris Commercial Mowers,
$50,000-to-win World of Outlaws Kings Royal and 42nd Annual World 100 are
available through the speedway box office (937) 338-3815 or online 24 hours a
day at www.EldoraSpeedway.com.