Special Motorsports Event - Busch Wins Prelude To The Dream Final
ROSSBURG, June 7, 2012: After knocking on the door to victory lane countless times in his five previous runs in the Prelude To The Dream at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, Kyle Busch finally broke through Wednesday night to score his first win in the all-star dirt Late Model race benefiting Feed The Children.
“This is cool,” said Busch, who outlasted strong challenges from Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer before finishing 2.283 seconds over runner-up Tony Stewart. “This is what it’s all about when you go dirt racing. It’s a lot of fun. I can’t say enough about (team owner) Scott Bloomquist and all these guys. They give me great racecars every time we come here and I’ve torn them up a few times, including tonight (in qualifying). We were able to come back through, get a good heat race, get a good starting spot for the main event and run up front there with the leaders all night.”Busch started the 40-lap feature event in second place and dueled with Kahne and Bowyer, who together led the first 24 laps (Kahne 1-12; Bowyer 13-21; Kahne 22-24) before Busch took over the lead on lap 25 when Kahne crashed into Bobby Labonte. Busch then checked out, beating three-time Prelude winner Stewart to nab his first career victory at Eldora.
“When Kahne had his mishap, we inherited the lead and just were able to set sail from there,” Busch said. “I felt like Kahne had a fast car tonight. He was probably the class of the field. Bowyer was really hustling hard and making it work through traffic and got by him. Then we caught the lapped cars and everybody just slowed down, the pace slowed up and everybody got loose trying to slide each other. Crazy, freak deal there with Kahne sliding (into the No. 44 car of Labonte) in (turn) three. I don’t know if he didn’t see him, or what. They called the caution a little late and I bet he didn’t even have time to react. From there, we had 16 laps to go and it felt like the longest 16 laps of my career here at Eldora.”
Finishing third was Austin Dillon in just his second Prelude start. Four-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz finished fourth in his dirt Late Model debut. Stewart’s NASCAR teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing, Ryan Newman, finished fifth. Aric Almirola, Cruz Pedregon, Dave Blaney, Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier completed the top-10, all of whom will get a tractor-trailer filled with food from Feed The Children delivered to their hometown or city of choice.
Stewart, owner of Eldora Speedway, took great pride in seeing the sixth different winner take the checkered flag in the charity race he created back in 2005.
“We had another first-time winner tonight. That’s what the fun part is,” said Stewart, the three-time and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion who like the rest of his Sprint Cup counterparts had to commute between a test at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and the Prelude To The Dream at Eldora. “There’s a lot of stuff going on. Five days in a row at Pocono, and for these guys to leave practice at the end of the day today, fly here and race, and then fly back to Pocono tonight and be back in cars at Pocono at nine in the morning, I think that speaks volumes to what this event is all about and what it means for these guys to be here. I know as a promoter and a fellow driver in the Cup series, I’m honored they were that committed to doing this with us tonight to benefit such a good cause as Feed The Children. Really, ‘honored’ is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s truly an honor with the week we’ve got this week at Eldora and Pocono.”
Complete event information can be found in the Prelude to the Dream online media kit at www.TrueSpeedMedia.com.
KYLE BUSCH, (2012 Prelude to the Dream Winner):
What are your overall thoughts about winning your first Prelude to the Dream?
“This is cool. This is what it’s all about when you go dirt racing. It’s a lot of fun. I can’t say enough about (team owner) Scott Bloomquist and all these guys. They give me great racecars every time we come here and I’ve torn them up a few times, including tonight (in qualifying). We were able to come back through, get a good heat race, get a good starting spot for the main event and run up front there with the leaders all night. And then, when Kahne had his mishap, we inherited the lead and just were able to set sail from there. We were pretty fast. At the beginning, I was just trying to pick the start as best I could. (Kasey) Kahne obviously had the preferred line at the bottom there to slide in and get in front of me. I kept trying the get my momentum around the top but I just couldn’t get to him from there. But I did feel once we did get the lead that we were pretty fast and we could hold it.”
The race got off to a rough start with several incidents and yellow-flag laps. Was that any cause for concern in the early going?
“I was a little concerned. I felt like (Kasey) Kahne had a fast car tonight. He was probably the class of the field. (Clint) Bowyer was really hustling hard and making it work through traffic and got by him. Then we caught the lapped cars and everybody just slowed down, the pace slowed up and everybody got loose trying to slide each other. Crazy, freak deal there with Kahne sliding (into the 44 car of Bobby Labonte) in three. I don’t know if he didn’t see him, or what. They called the caution a little late and I bet he didn’t even have time to react. From there, we had 16 laps to go and it felt like the longest 16 laps of my career here at Eldora.
Does it feel particularly special beating Tony Stewart, who owns this track and puts on this event?
“Tony’s the best here. He loves this place. It’s cool whether you beat Tony Stewart or whether you beat Jimmie Johnson, it’s a lot of fun to race these races for a good cause. Tony’s turned this into a huge deal. It takes a lot of people to do this, so we appreciate them, and HBO for all their support.”
TONY STEWART, (Finished 2nd; Three-Time and Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion; Three-Time Prelude Winner):
First off, you almost pulled out another win in your own event. Talk about the racing effort.
“I think we had a great run. We were a lot better in the main event than we were in qualifying and the heat race. So, I was pretty happy with our run. It was a shame to see Kasey (Kahne) crash out of the lead like that. But it was fun. I think if it would’ve stayed green instead of having that caution, I think we would’ve had a little something for him. We had a pretty good racecar and I was pretty happy with it.
What are your thoughts about the 2012 Prelude to the Dream, in general?
“I think it went great. I don’t know what it was like to watch but I know how much fun we had in the cars. When I was out of the car, I was watching the crowd and it looked like everybody was having a good time.”
Getting your fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers here this year was a bit more of a challenge than in previous years with pre-race testing already underway at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway today and Thursday, but you had as strong of a field as ever. How does that make you feel about the popularity of the Prelude?
“Really, ‘honored’ is the best word I can think of to describe it. It’s truly an honor with the week we’ve got this week at Eldora and Pocono. There’s a lot of stuff going on. Five days in a row at Pocono, and for these guys to leave practice at the end of the day today, fly here and race, and then fly back to Pocono tonight and be back in cars at Pocono at 9 in the morning, I think that speaks volumes to what this event is all about and what it means for these guys to be here. I know as a promoter and a fellow driver in the Cup series, I’m honored they were that committed to doing this with us tonight.”
AUSTIN DILLON, (Finished 3rd; 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion):
You got a top-three finish in just your second Prelude to the Dream. You’ve got to be happy about your performance tonight.
“I got to do this last year and had a blast. Tonight was a really good night for us. It was tough racing out there, really. You had to slide – you had to make that move. We were a little loose for the feature. Actually, it wasn’t loose so much as I just couldn’t get a lot of speed coming off the corner. We’re going to work on that. I’m glad we qualified up front and got to run up front. We did our work early in the night and it paid off for the feature. And it was a good test session for the Dream coming up this weekend. I can’t wait to run it. Our car’s clean, and we had a chance to raise a lot of money for Feed the Children. It had to be a great show. I hope all the people here and at home enjoyed it. It had to be a wild show.”
DONNY SCHATZ, (Finished 4th; Four-Time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Champion):
For your first Prelude, finishing inside the top-five had to be something you are happy about.
“It’s a good thing they are stock cars and they’ve got fenders. I think I hit everything there was and I was bouncing off guys. If you did that in a Sprint car, you’d be laying out in the weeds. It was a fun race. I wish I could’ve had a restart there at the end. When you drive Darrell Lanigan’s racecar, you know you’ve got something really good underneath you. It took me all night to figure out what to do with it when the track finally cleaned off. It was really fun to drive. I didn’t know the STP car was this beat up but, hopefully, we can try again next year.”
You were involved in an accident during the early part of the race. What happened, and how were you able to run up through the field?
“Someone was spinning down the backstretch and I tried not to get into him and someone got me from behind. I got bounced around a few times, but that’s what happens in stock car racing. The crazy thing is that I didn’t get to see much of it that happened, so I can’t fault anyone. I kept my cool and the racecar really came to me. The track cleaned off. I was really decent around the bottom on one end (one and two). When I got to Cruz (Pedregon), he was on the bottom, so I had to get off it and it really helped me get more speed through three and four. It was fun. It was a great opportunity for me to drive this car. Darrell Lanigan and his guys did a great job. I’m glad we got it in the top-five. Maybe if we get to come back again, we’ll be able to get up there and fight for a win.”
CRUZ PEDREGON, (Finished 7th; Two-time NHRA Funny Car Champion):
You started 18th but, with 15 laps to go you were at the front fighting for the win. How did you get there?
“We had a plan coming into the feature. (Crew chief) Rodney Dehaven Jr., said we are going to tighten the car up. I asked if we could run the bottom where it was moist and he said, ‘Yes.’ I just started running down there, got comfortable and started picking guys off. As I kept coming up on guys, I started seeing good cars that started way in front of me. I just kept my rhythm. The red (flag) certainly broke my rhythm and I had to restart on the top. My car was working so good on the bottom, I just couldn’t back down there fast enough. By the time I did, I had lost a few spots. It was all I could do to salvage a seventh. I really wanted a second or a win so bad. I think, had we not had the red, I really felt like we had a shot at it. I tied my career-best finish, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, (Finished 11th; Five-Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion; 2010 Prelude Winner):
You looked like one of the early contenders for the win tonight. How was your night, and what happened in the closing laps?
“I worked my way up to fourth pretty quickly. But they’re telling me I pretty much destroyed the tires. We went too soft on tires. I’m not used to having compound options and all that kind of stuff. The first half of the race, I started 14th and shot up to fourth. That was cool and, overall, it was a lot of fun. I’m happy to support Tony and I feel like I get better every time I run one of these things. Any time there’s an engine running, I have fun, and I had a lot of fun tonight.”
DANICA PATRICK, (Finished 15th; 2005 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year; 2008 IZOD IndyCar Series winner at Twin Ring Motegi):
You’ve finished your first Prelude. What did you learn from start to finish?
“I realized early that I wasn’t really in the mix, so I figured I would take the chance to get comfortable driving sideways a little bit more as I’ve found that that helps in driving a stock car. I was just feeling it out and I really wanted to bring the car home without balling it up. I sort of did that. It was a good experience for me but, more than anything, I’m proud to be a part of this event. Tony is definitely my role model for charity work. This is a big deal. It’s very cool that he puts this on, and it’s obviously his party, but he invites all of his friends and that’s cool.”
KASEY KAHNE, (Finished 16th; 13-time Winner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series):
You started on the pole and it looked like you had the car to beat. What happened out there?
“I just had a really, really good car. I got battling with Clint (Bowyer). He got by me in lapped traffic and then I got back by him in lapped traffic and, every time I looked up, the 44 car (Bobby Labonte) was backwards and, that time, he was up against the wall in the preferred line. I saw him but there was no slowing down. That far down the backstretch, it’s like you’re on ice. I just slid across and nailed him. It was actually a pretty hard hit. I was surprised how hard it was. It’s discouraging because I thought we had a good shot at winning. But, I’m still glad I was here. We had a great crowd. Everybody enjoyed the Prelude. It’s a great night and we get the chance to help a lot of children.”
CLINT BOWYER, (Finished 19th; Defending Prelude to the Dream Winner and Two-Time Prelude Winner as a Car Owner):
It looked for a while like you were going to make it back-to-back Prelude victories. How disappointed are you that a mid-race incident put you out of the race?
“I just kind of got used up there. It is what it is. I hate it for these guys (crew). I’m here for fun, but these guys work so hard on this car. It was brand new and now it’s pretty much destroyed right there – at least the body, it’s all pretty much cosmetic on these things. I guess karma caught up with us a little bit, which is a little disappointing. But, oh well, it was fun.”
STEVE KINSER, (Finished 25th; 20-Time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Champion):
Your first Prelude ended more quickly than you probably could have imagined. How was the experience for you?
“It was a good time. I hated tearing up a racecar. I’m not sure what happened there, if I got loose and someone got into me or what. All I knew is that I was spinning down the frontstretch the wrong way. After that, it was all over. It was a lot of fun to be part of something that is put on for such a great cause. I’d love to come back and give it another shot.”