It is official.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be racing on dirt in 2013; road racing will also return to the series for the first time since 2000.
On July 24, the trucks will make their dirt debut at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, the.5-mile track owned by three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. This event will be the first of two Wednesday night races for the series, joining Bristol Motor Speedway’s popular mid-week race on Aug. 21.
“We’ve had talks about getting the trucks on dirt in the past,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “The door-to-door racing that our truck series is known for plus Eldora’s popularity and Tony’s dedication to putting on great shows for the fans is a perfect fit. We’ll have a maximum starting field of 30 trucks at Eldora. More details on the race format are still being developed.”
On September 1, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), a 2.459-mile, 10-turn road course in Bowmanville, Ont., will host its inaugural truck event becoming the first road-course track for the series since 2000, and ensuring a NASCAR national series presence in Canada for a seventh-consecutive season
“It’s very important that we maintain our national series presence in Canada,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve accomplished that goal while also bringing a world-class venue like Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on board. The Canadian fan base is so passionate and has a high regard for NASCAR. We’re excited to increase our role with our great partners at Canadian Tire while also introducing the truck series to our fans in Canada.
Eldora and CTMP will be two of the series highlights during the 22 race schedule next season. Atlanta and one of the races at Kentucky Speedway have been taken off the schedule for next year.
It will not be surprising if we see a few Sprint Cup drivers attempt the Truck series race at Eldora. The Cup cars will be racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that following weekend of July 27-28.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for not only the Truck Series regulars but also with it being a Wednesday night race, having a lot of the Cup Series and Nationwide Series drivers as well as younger drivers and veterans from the World of Outlaws, late models, USAC drivers that will have an opportunity to land rides for that race.” Stewart said.
The track will not have to add SAFER barriers like some had thought. Stewart told the media on Wednesday that the University of Nebraska, Lincoln’s midwest roadside safety facility came and checked the facility and told them they did not need to add the soft walls. “We are going to be making changes to the exits and entrances to the pit areas. That’s stuff we already started looking at. With the university’s help, they’re helping us make that even better than what we had planned.” Stewart said.
The actual set up of the race at Eldora is yet to be determined, but there are talks of it being of a normal “dirt race” setup with heat and last chance races. They are expecting a lot of interest and will do what they feel is best for the drivers and the series – especially since it is still a points race in the CWTS.
Many were worried about the changes that would have to be made to the trucks to make them race well on dirt – but Stewart said the reality is, the only thing they really needed to do was take the splitter off the front of the trucks and that fixed the problems.
More details about the race have yet to be announced, but so far the 2012 Camping World Truck Series looks to be the most fun yet.