ROSSBURG, OH (March 22) – With seven names added this week, all with championship credits, the list of driver superstars for the Wednesday, June 6 running of the Feed The Children Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway now stands at 25. Three-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart will be joined by Kyle Busch, Kenny Schrader, Ricky Carmichael, Austin Dillon, Jason Leffler and J.J. Yeley as drivers announced this week into the 8th annual charity-driven event on Eldora’s nationally-acclaimed .500-mile clay oval.
Three is a prevalent number for Stewart, who also owns Eldora, as it represents both the number of NASCAR Sprint Cup titles won and the number of Prelude victories to his credit – with wins in 2006, 2008 and 2009. And, as proof of his driving diversity, Stewart was the first driver to win three United States Auto Club (USAC) National Championships in one season when he captured titles in USAC’s touring Midget, Sprint Car and Silver Crown divisions in 1995.
Always cognizant of his grassroots start in racing, Stewart welcomes every opportunity he can to go short track racing – especially at his ‘home’ track. In addition to his Prelude wins, Stewart has stepped into Eldora’s hallowed victory lane as winner following USAC Midget and Sprint Car, Late Model, 360-Sprint Car and Modified feature events.
With Kyle Busch joining the Feed The Children Prelude to the Dream fold, it completes one of two brother acts in this year’s field – Kyle/Kurt Busch and Austin/Ty Dillon.
Kyle, the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, also finds three to his liking. Busch’s mastery of all levels of NASCAR competition came in August 2010 at Bristol, when he became the first driver in history to win all three national series (Camping World Truck, Nationwide, Sprint Cup) on the same weekend, at the same track. The 2004 NASCAR Nationwide Series and 2005 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year has five previous Prelude competitions under his belt, with four of them being among the top four at the finish.
Kenny Schrader joins Stewart, Kenny Wallace and Ron Capps as one of only four drivers to have been in the Prelude line-up since its 2005 inception. Said to be the consummate race car driver, Schrader has been known to drive anything on wheels. Like Stewart, the 27-year NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran blazed his trail into the stock car world via the open wheel route. His early career stats include three USAC wins at Eldora Speedway (two Midget, one Silver Crown), along with USAC National championship titles in 1982 (Silver Crown) and 1983 (Sprint Car). In recent years, when not NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Schrader has frequently returned to Eldora in Modified and Late Model competition with feature wins in both divisions. He has a pair of fourth-place finishes (2005 and 2007) as his best Prelude showings.
With Ricky Carmichael comes a presence from the two-wheel world of racing. Simply known as GOAT (Greatest of All Time), the invincible Carmichael has 15 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) championships on his resume; five AMA Supercross and 10 AMA Outdoor Motocross. Two of those championships came on the heels of perfect seasons, an unequaled record in the racing world. Following a semi-retirement from the two-wheel world in 2007, Carmichael ventured into stock car racing competing in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series.
Dillon, who made his Prelude debut last year, will be joining younger brother Ty in this year’s running. As grandsons of the legendary Richard Childress, they have mighty big shoes to fill; but have been fitting into them quite well.
Austin sets the pace for Ty. After claiming Rookie of the Year honors in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series in 2010, he followed that up with a championship the next season (2011), along with Most Popular Driver honors. This year he has stepped up into NASCAR’s Nationwide Series behind the wheel of the celebrated number 3 that was made famous through Childress and his driver, the late Dale Earnhardt.
Even during his pursuit of a coveted NASCAR championship, Dillon continued to explore and learn auto racing on all levels. He fielded a dirt Modified and dirt Late Model with success. It was with his Late Model that he served notice of being a bona fide contender. In 2010, at Eldora’s signature event for dirt Late Models, the World 100, Dillon set fast time over a 134-car field of the best teams in the nation. He finished 13th in the century grind after starting 19th, and then followed that up with a ninth place finish this past year.
Likewise, Eldora Speedway is no stranger to Jason Leffler, another NASCAR veteran via the USAC route. The versatile Leffler, a recurrent competitor in NASCAR’s Nationwide and Camping World Truck series, has three USAC National Midget and one Silver Crown titles to his credit, as well as one start in the Indianapolis 500.
Completing this week’s roster announcement is Yeley, who shares the similar route of USAC into NASCAR with Stewart, Schrader and Leffler. In fact, Yeley’s route is very similar to Stewart’s. A 2003 USAC triple crown of National Championships in the Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown divisions and multiple INDYCAR Series starts were the springboard into NASCAR, where, like Stewart, Yeley joined the Joe Gibbs Racing Team. His career best finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing came at Michigan International Speedway in 2007. A strong run in last season’s Prelude found him finishing runner-up to Bowyer.
Race fans can catch all the behind-the-scenes preparation for the event by following the track, event, charity, drivers and officials on Twitter: @EldoraSpeedway, @PreludetoDream, @FeedTheChildren, @TonyStewart, @KyleBusch, @KenSchrader, @RickyCarmichael, @AustinDillon3, @JasonLeffler and @JJYeley1.
These seven names are added to the previously announced, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Dave Blaney, Tony Kanaan, Ron Capps, Jimmie Johnson, Justin Allgaier, Bill Elliott, Ray Evernham, David Gilliand, Cruz Pedregon, Danica Patrick, Ryan Newman, Bobby Labonte, Kenny Wallace, Ty Dillon and Aric Almirola.
Reserved seats for Wednesday, June 6th’s Feed The Children Prelude to the Dream are $29 and are now available through the speedway box office (937) 338-3815 or online 24 hours a day at www.EldoraSpeedway.com. Like us at www.Facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway. Follow us at www.twitter.com/EldoraSpeedway.