The Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway will be unlike any NASCAR race in recent memory. In addition to being the first national division event on dirt since 1970, Wednesday's Truck Series race will also include heats, a last chance race and no live pit stops.
Add everything together and Eldora very well might be the most anticipated race of the season, be it in Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series or other. Accordingly, here is a primer on the inaugural Mudsummer Classic.
Eldora is a half-mile clay oval owned by Tony Stewart and the track is held in high regard by drivers, who view it as one of the best dirt facilities in the country.
However, dirt racing is an anomaly in the Truck Series, and as such there is uncertainty on how the proceedings will unfold. Throughout practice many a driver spun out, as there were numerous incidents in all three sessions. And it's not just dirt rookies who encountered problems, as noted dirt racers Kyle Larson, Dave Blaney and Austin Dillon all had issues.
The big question is whether anyone will be able to pass. In practice drivers hugged the wall, as the high line was the preferred groove with a lack of side-by-side racing.
As for what will happen in the race, feelings are mixed. Some drivers think the track will be racy -- especially if the bottom groove is wetted. While others feel the only way to execute a pass is by dive-bombing into a corner and then sliding up the track and hopefully not hitting someone.
A total of 30 trucks will compete in the main event with 20 already guaranteed entry via owners' points. Spots 21-30 will be determined through a series of heat races.
Time trials will divide drivers into five heats. Each heat will consist of eight laps (caution laps do not count) with the top finishing driver not already qualified advancing to the feature. For those drivers who fail to advance, there is a 15-lap last chance race with the top five finishers transferring.
But the main event will not be conducted like a typical NASCAR race. Instead, the 150-lap feature is divided into three segments of 60, 50 and 40 laps. And between segments the field will be frozen and teams will have an opportunity to complete pit stops without the risk of forfeiting their position.
Due its uniqueness along with the prestige of being the first winner of a NASCAR race at Eldora, a host of dirt track ringers will be competing in the Mudsummer Classic.
Among the more prominent names entered is the aforementioned Larson. The 20-year-old protégée is frequently compared to Stewart, and he has a host of victories on the Ohio short track. He also has a pair of wins in the World of Outlaws, a national dirt series in high-powered wing sprint cars.
Larson is joined by the father-son combination of Dave and Ryan Blaney. Dad, a regular in the Sprint Cup Series, has a long history of success at Eldora. He has won the King's Royal twice and is also a former WoO champion. Ryan, 19, races full-time in the Truck Series, but unlike his father, has no background in dirt. Both will be running trucks fielded by Brad Keselowski Racing.
Scott Bloomquist is nicknamed the "Dirtrax Dominator" and is a member of the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. Yet he has never competed in a NASCAR race and would like nothing more than to add a Truck Series win at Eldora to his already impressive résumé. He will be wheeling a Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.
Other drivers to watch include Ryan Newman, Ken Schrader, Austin and Ty Dillon, and Tracy Hines, all of whom have extensive experience on dirt. And don't discount Darrell Wallace Jr., who prior to this week was a dirt rookie but was fastest in final practice.