Jimmie Has Dream Night At Stewart’s Place
By Nick Bromberg | Senior Correspondent
So much for Jimmie Johnson’s “slump.”
Johnson dominated Wednesday night’s Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway and led Team Levine to a victory in the Tony Stewart-founded event’s new team format that benefited four children’s hospitals.
After an inversion of the field that followed three qualifying races, Johnson started on the pole for the Prelude and was never passed.
“This is big, this is so much fun and such a challenge to drive these cars and to come out here and race against these guys I can’t believe it,” Johnson said of the Prelude, which has become an annual event which features top drivers from NASCAR, the IndyCar Series and even the NHRA drag racing series. “I’m so stoked, so happy.”
After running third in his qualifying heat, Johnson sure didn’t make it look like it was much of a challenge as he pulled away from Kyle Busch on every one of the many restarts in the 30 lap feature. Only green flag laps counted, and there were numerous incidents before a single green flag lap was completed. In fact, the race had to be started four times before a lap was finally completed under green flag conditions.
Johnson was driving a car prepared by Clint Bowyer, who was the captain for a different team.
“That’s awesome. I can’t thank Clint enough. I had his dad spotting for me tonight which was pretty cool,” Johnson said.
Bowyer prepared himself a pretty good car as well. Bowyer was the fastest car in qualifying before the heat races and passed Johnson’s Team Levine teammate, Busch,for second on the green-white-checker finish.
“(Johnson’s) a four time champion for a reason,” Bowyer said. “Ol’ Busch, he doored me and I wasn’t going to let him get away with that.”
Because of Johnson’s win and Busch’s third place finish, Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte will receive 45 percent of the proceeds raised by the race and the pay-per-view broadcast. The St. Jude Children’s Hospital team, captained by Denny Hamlin, finished second and will receive 25 percent of the proceeds while Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis will receive 15 percent each.
– Eldora owner and event organizer Stewart started shotgun on the field in 27th and navigated his way through the carnage to finish sixth. Each team had the option of sending a driver to the rear of the field and if that driver won from the back, that team’s charity would get an extra $50,000. Stewart, who was driving for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, was the only driver that elected to go to the back of the pack.
-– Kasey Kahne was the class of the field in the first qualifying heat, but an engine problem in his No. 9 Budweiser car forced him to a backup for the Prelude. But since he didn’t prepare a backup, he was forced to use a car from Eric Jacobson that Jacobson was going to use in the Dream race on Saturday night. Kahne wheeled the backup car to an eighth-place finish.
Oh, and that backup car’s number? No. 5. Talk about dirt imitating asphalt.
– Eldora’s restart cone was the victim of repeated abuse during the innumerable restarts in Wednesday’s feature race. The restart cone, a staple of many dirt tracks, is designed to keep the drivers in a single file line until they cross the start finish line. However, as has been the case in the Sprint Cup Series over the years, cones tend to get run over by even the best drivers. Ron Capps and David Reutimann, among others, ran over the restart cone enough that track officials decided near the end of the race that placing the cone out on the track before every restart wasn’t worth the effort anymore.
– With 27 drivers in the field, there were three teams of seven and one team of six. Scoring was determined by each team’s five highest placing drivers and the lowest overall score won. For example, if a team’s drivers swept the top seven positions, the drivers in first through fifth would be scored with 15 points, the lowest possible amount.
Finishing order for the feature race in Wednesday night’s Prelude to the Dream held at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Carl Edwards
4. Kyle Busch
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Tony Stewart
7. Dave Blaney
8. Kasey Kahne
9. Ken Schrader
10. Bill Elliott
11. AJ Allmendinger
12. Bobby Labonte
13. Joey Logano
14. Aric Almirola
15. Marcos Ambrose
16. Ryan Newman
17. Ray Evernham
18. Matt Kenseth
19. Ricky Carmichael
20. Ron Capps
21. David Reutimann
22. Jeff Gordon
23. Travis Pastrana
24. Tony Kanaan
25. Cruz Pedregon
26. Justin Allgaier
27. Kenny Wallace
– Nick Bromberg is a frequent contributor to RacinToday.comOne Comment