News & Media


Truck Series well-represented at Prelude

June 03, 2011, Official Release, NASCAR.com

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- From the cornfields of Kansas to the cornfields of rural Ohio, three drivers of the Camping World Truck Series will venture from the series' 400th race on Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City to the seventh annual Prelude to the Dream on Wednesday at the legendary Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

Four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, 2009 Truck Series most popular driver Ricky Carmichael and 2010 Truck Series rookie of the year Austin Dillon are ready to trade their pickup trucks for 2,300-pound, 800-horsepower dirt late-model stock cars as they race in the Prelude to the Dream, which will be presented live to the entire nation on HBO Pay-Per-View with net proceeds from the telecast supporting four of the nation's top children's hospitals.

Prelude on HBO PPV


The live, commercial-free broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. ET with an immediate replay. HBO Pay-Per-View's racing telecast has a suggested retail price of $24.95. Ordering information and up-to-the minute racing information is available at either www.PreludeToTheDream.org or www.HBO.com.

Hornaday and Carmichael are members of Team St. Louis, racing for St. Louis Children's Hospital. Dillon is part of Team Levine, which is racing for Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C.

* Scouting reports: Team St. Louis | Team Levine

Hornaday and Dillon will be making their first Prelude starts, while former Motocross and Supercross champion Carmichael returns to Eldora's half-mile dirt oval for a second go at the Prelude.

Carmichael earned the nickname "GOAT," as in "Greatest Of All Time," by scoring an incredible 15 American Motorcycle Association championships -- 10 consecutive Motocross titles and five Supercross titles -- and becoming the winningest rider in history with 150 victories before retiring from the sport at the end of 2007 to embark on a career in stock-car racing.

* Video: Carmichael on racing to help children

As such, Eldora's dirt surface wasn't foreign to Carmichael, but the four-wheel dirt late model he wheeled was still a much different animal from the two-wheeled Suzuki he rode to unprecedented success in Motocross and Supercross.

"Growing up on dirt -- racing motorcycles, not a car -- I've always felt like I know the dirt a little bit better," said Carmichael, now in his third season of Truck Series competition. "You know what the dirt looks like and where the grip is. You know where the track is fast and where it's blown out. I feel like I have a sense of knowing where the traction is or where some free grip is.

"And after last year's Prelude and a few tests since then, I'm to the point where I know what's going on. I don't feel like a fish out of water and I know what to do in different track conditions. Now, I just have to incorporate some speed into it."

Just as Carmichael had to adjust to the many nuances of dirt racing at last year's Prelude to the Dream, Hornaday will have to do the same this year. While he might be the elder statesman of the Truck Series and its winningest driver, he'll be a rookie all over again on Wednesday night at Eldora.

"I've never been in a dirt late model, but I've been in cars like it," said Hornaday, who saw plenty of dirt on the sides of highways as he trucked to paved race tracks around his Southern California hometown of Palmdale before latching onto the Truck Series when it began in 1995. "I've been down to Ken Schrader's race track a couple times and run his modified, but it's going to be a new experience with all that horsepower."

While the 52-year-old Hornaday will be a dirt rookie, 21-year-old Dillon is actually the most tenured dirt racer among his Truck Series counterparts.

"I love racing on dirt. Really, it's where I got my start in racing," said Dillon, grandson of championship-winning NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. "I got a later start in the sport than a lot of people because I focused on stick-and-ball sports as a kid, but once I tried my first race I was hooked. Now my brother, Ty, and I try to race in 25-50 dirt races a year."

And it's dirt racing that Dillon says has better prepared him for a career in stock-car racing.

"Dirt racing taught me car control. Ty and I raced at Volusia [Fla.] this year during Speedweeks, so we had a good five or six races under our belts before we even strapped into a stock car for the first time this season. Dirt racing keeps us in a car and prepared --mentally and physically -- for racing stock cars."

Knowing Dillon's dirt-racing background, Carmichael sought him out to ready for this year's Prelude to the Dream.

"Austin Dillon and Clint Bowyer helped me the most," Carmichael said. "They were both very instrumental in my learning process and still are. Those guys are experts at it, so I've got two great guys helping me. At the end of the day, it's tough to go there and expect to keep up with the guys who have been doing it a long time."

Despite his strong dirt resume, Dillon continues to get help from some very influential people.

"The person who has had the most influence in dirt racing for me is Shane McDowell," said Dillon, who balances his racing career with school as a sophomore at High Point (N.C.) University. "He's my crew chief on the dirt side and has been around the sport forever. He has helped me throughout my career. I've been able to learn from all of the RCR [Richard Childress Racing] drivers, as well. Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick -- all of them. Harvick was my hero growing up, and I have learned a lot just by watching him."

So, what are the expectations of this Truck Series trio at the Prelude to the Dream?

"I'm excited," Dillon said. "I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can, and hopefully we will do well."

"I'd just like to be better than I was last year," said Carmichael, who qualified 13th and finished 19th in the 2010 Prelude. "My goal this year is to qualify the best I can and just be really, really consistent in the feature. If I can do that, we'll have a decent finish and it will give my team a decent shot at winning. Last year, I got caught in a wreck on the first lap and messed up my left front. From that point on, it was just miserable. I just want to be super, super consistent and be there at the end."

"It's a good thing we have a long plane ride up there because I'm going to have a lot of questions about dirt for Austin and Clint," Hornaday added. "I haven't seen the car yet, but it's the one Dave Blaney ran last year, so I'm really looking forward to it."

With one Prelude to the Dream already on his resume, Carmichael knows what to expect in his return trip to Eldora.

"This year, I was able to test at Wythe Raceway [in Rural Retreat, Va.] and I was definitely a lot more comfortable in the car," said the resident of Tallahassee, Fla. "I felt like my first couple of runs were way better and I learned a lot. The conditions were dry and slick, which is how the Prelude was last year and that's how we wanted to practice. The light bulb has clicked on without a doubt. I know what the car is going to do in different conditions. I just need to work on a little more speed. Realistically, my expectations are just to do better than I did last year. This year I got my buddy Hornaday out there, so that will be fun to mix it up with him. I just want to be consistent and not mess up. I want to give our team the best shot to win."