ROSSBURG, Ohio — Tony Stewart watched NASCAR’s Truck Series drivers go four wide in a battle for the lead in the waning laps and two trucks speed side by side for an incredible finish on Wednesday at Eldora Speedway.
The track’s owner wants more.
Having promoted NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events at his half-mile dirt oval for the past six years, Stewart eyes a NASCAR Cup Series race sometime in the future.
The Eldora truck race is the only national series dirt race on the NASCAR schedule, and Stewart has started to publicly campaign louder for additional NASCAR national series races. NASCAR has routinely said it wants the dirt race to be special for the trucks.
“If you can do it with trucks, you can do it with Xfinity, you can do it with Cup, you can do it with anything,” Stewart told ESPN Wednesday night after the Eldora Dirt Derby. “Let’s try to get an Xfinity race here; let’s crawl before we walk, and then walk before we sprint.”
The track had another solid crowd but not a sellout of its 17,782 seats for the midweek event. Stewart has no idea how feasible it is to get a Cup race; NASCAR has not added a new date to the schedule since 2001. Any changes since then on the Cup schedule have come from realignment requests within the portfolios of current track owners.
Former Charlotte Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler, who was the grand marshal for Wednesday’s race, said he had tested Cup cars on the dirt track at Charlotte and he believes they could run right away on a dirt track.
“Dirt has made a tremendous comeback in this country the last 20 years,” Wheeler said. “They’re ready for a Cup race. I would love to see a Cup race here.
“They could put some extra seats in here and end up with 35,000 to 40,000 paid and have more people than a lot of races that we run right now on superspeedways.”
Stewart, who co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing that operates four Cup teams, said it would be a cost-efficient change for team owners.
“The teams are getting more used to it,” Stewart said. “If you can get the truck guys to figure it out, Xfinity and Cup guys can figure it out. They all have the resources to do it.
“And you don’t have to worry about aero. You don’t have to bring your best aerodynamic car. I’d bring my worst aero car that I’ve got in my fleet.”
Chase Briscoe, an Xfinity Series driver who won the truck race Wednesday night, said there is no doubt that Cup cars should run at the track.
“The Cup Series, to me, is the best race car drivers in the world,” Briscoe said. “The best race car drivers should have to run a superspeedway, they should have to run on a short track, they should have to run on an intermediate course, they should have to run on a road course and they should have to run on a dirt track.”
So, when’s the test of Cup cars at Eldora?
“Ask NASCAR when the test is and I’ll make sure the track is ready,” Stewart said with a laugh. “I don’t know [if it will happen]. I never thought there was a likelihood of getting a NASCAR race, period, here to even have this conversation.
“After six years of doing it with trucks, the actual physics of doing it are proven that it can happen.”