T.J.’s Takeaways from the Opening Night of the Eldora Million

Aaron Reutzel (#8), Logan Schuchart (#1S), and Brad Sweet (#49) racing for position Wednesday during the Eldora Million at Eldora Speedway. (Mike Campbel photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

(July 13, 2023) — After the opening night of highest paying sprint car race in the history of the sport, here are my takeaways from a great start to the week at Eldora.

• The format for the Eldora Million raised a lot of eyebrows when it was announced. The wheel of doom playing a huge role determining deep inversions for heat races and main events Wednesday was highly debated right up to the start of the night’s racing. Even Jonathan Davenport, who won the Eldora Million for late models last year, voiced his opinion on social media about the format.

What we ended up with was a great night of action with ferocious racing in the heats. Winged sprint car racing often faces criticism for not having a lot of passing, particularly in the heat races. Wednesday night at Eldora two of the heat races were won from the eighth starting position while two other winners came from fourth starting spot.

The first 25-lap feature had Brad Sweet and Aaron Reutzel come from sixth and seventh starting spots to win while 8th starting Carson Macedo starting to close on front row starter Rico Abreu in the second main event.

So far the Eldora Million format has been a huge hit and has produced a highly entertaining product on the opening night. Hopefully Thursday’s finale is half as good as tonight was.

• The Million prelims would be a showcase for California sprint car talent with four out of the top six podium spots being occupied be drivers from the left coast.

Earlier this week I placed Rico Abreu as the #1 seed for the Eldora Million. Abreu lived up to that hype as he seemed to find another gear at the halfway point of that feature event, driving away from the field.

Carson Macedo was fast enough to keep Abreu honest when they were in traffic and Abreu had some slower cars holding him up in the closing stages.

Kyle Larson used a variety of unique lines to finish third after a torrid battle with Aaron Reutzel while Carson Macedo was fast enough to keep things in doubt in the second main event.

It’s highly likely after the way the points shook out the one-million-dollar top prize could be headed to the west coast.

• Shark Racing made a statement on Wednesday early in the night when Logan Schuchart made a cut through turns one in two in hot laps and was the fastest overall in practice. That carried to qualifying with Schuchart setting quick time before winning his heat race from eight spot.

Schuchart did drop from the pole position to fourth in the main event, but it was obvious they had tremendous speed to show.

Jacob Allen has not had as impressive of a season compared to the last two seasons, but Allen showed his Shark Racing entry had speed as well setting third quick time in group B after being the final car out for qualifications, driving from 8th to 3rd in his heat race, before dropping one spot in the main event from sixth to seventh.

If Shark Racing can find a bit more speed to go forward on Thursday a win would send the Eldora throng into chaos. Thinking about the upstart team that could barely get up and down the road ten years ago to one of the top teams in all the sport. The thought of Bobby Allen’s son and grandson winning a Million dollars at Eldora is the ultimate Cinderella story, and could take place with the right breaks on Thursday.