Braden Mitchell. Max McLaughlin. Logan Seavey. Jeffrey Abbey. Tanner Thorson. Justin Shipley.
These aren’t normally names you think of when picking a winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Heck, these aren’t normally names you see on the entry list for a Truck race, but all these drivers and more will have a shot at etching their names in the record books this evening.
The Trucks are in Rossburg, Ohio for their annual trip to Eldora Speedway for some good ol’ fashioned mud slinging on one of the United States’ most famous dirt tracks.
One of the many fun things about NASCAR competing at Eldora, the only dirt race in the top-three premier series, is the fact that so many drivers come out for one-off races, trying to simply take home a trophy from the series regulars.
In fact, 18 of the 39 drivers on tonight’s entry list for the Eldora Dirt Derby are attempting their first race of 2018.
The stacked entry list includes 18-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winner Ryan Newman, Cup competitor Ty Dillon and Chase Briscoe, who won at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year, his last time racing a truck.
Other drivers on the entry list include Logan Seavey, making his series debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Seavey’s an accomplished dirt racer and 2017 POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series champion. He also has driven for Keith Kunz Motorsports, the same dirt midget team that brought the likes of Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell to the forefront.
He isn’t the only high-profile dirt racer attempting his debut.
R.J. Otto, a 26-year-old dirt modified driver, will race a Red Farmer-throwback, driving for JJL Motorsports, the team operated by youngster Jesse Little and his uncle, Jason.
Also on this year’s entry list is J.R. Heffner, who had to withdraw from the event late last year when he blew a motor in qualifying.
Heffner has three Truck Series starts, including two at Eldora where he has a best finish of 15th. He’s driving for Premium Motorsports tonight, and looking to improve on that result.
With Eldora’s stature of being a high-profile event, a large entry list looms. 39 trucks are entered tonight for 32 spots. That means seven will go home empty handed, the highest number of DNQs the 2018 NASCAR season has seen across all three series.
How the field will be set
Single-car time trials will be used to set the starting lineup for each of the five qualifying races that will take place.
1st-25th place: Top-five finishers from qualifying races
26th and 27th: Top-two finishers from last chance race
28th-31st: Owners provisionals (OP) sorted by fastest single lap speed from qualifying
32nd: past champion or OP
Eldora is a race of uncertainty. Because of that, a number of things could happen in this race that could help a surprise winner sneak his or her way into victory lane.
Stewart Friesen, possibly the most experienced dirt racer in the field, currently finds himself fourth in Truck Series points. If the Canadian can win tonight, he not only locks himself into the playoffs, but he could pick up some playoff points that will help him as the season goes on.
A driver like Myatt Snider, who was quickest in yesterday’s opening practice, is sitting ninth in points. While not an experienced dirt racer, the unpredictability of this race could make Snider a contender. One of his teammates, Matt Crafton, who also is need of a win to qualify for the championship, won this race a year ago.