Was this the best Mud Summer Classic Yet? Possibly. The NASCAR Camping World Series dirt track extravaganza lived up to its billing that's for sure.
Darrell Wallace Jr., also known as Bubba, lived up to expectations as well as he laid claim to NASCAR’s “King of the Dirt” title for 2014 by winning the 1-800 CarCash Mud Summer Classic at Eldora Speedway on Wednesday night by beating Kyle Larson.
Crews Jump in Last Year
It was the second running of the event under the NASCAR banner and there was some concern that the show would not be as impressive as last year. During the 2013 race qualifiers Norm Benning Jr. pushed his way to a place on the race grid but badly damaged his truck.
Crew members from several teams quickly raced to Benning’s truck to shake his hand and then the group fixed his ride in time for the main event. Everyone knew that Benning probably didn't have the time, or equipment on hand, to properly fix his truck for the beginning of the race so volunteers jumped in. The under funded driver did not win the race last year but an up and coming driver did in the form of Austin Dillon.
That’s a tough story line to follow up but the drivers in the field managed to do it. Wallace dominated the story line for the evening. The young driver, with two wins to his name so far, led 98 of 150 laps in the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota in route to his third career victory.
The Toyota Streak
It would also be another victory for Toyota in the Camping World Truck series. So far this season Toyota owns ten checkered flags and Wallace noted he wanted to keep the streak going when he commented on the race in Victory Lane.
“That’s so cool, winning on dirt at Eldora,” Wallace said seconds after exiting his truck.
“It’s awesome here. The cool thing about it is, I came into this kind of skeptical. I knew we’d run top-five. I was worried about the Toyota streak, I’m not going to lie.”
While Wallace seemed to cruise to the finish it was not as easy as some might think when reading lap data. Bubba was met with several challenges during the evening including some hard charging efforts by Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson. Towards the end of the race Larson took the lead away from Wallace as the two battled for position. Wallace was able to slide his truck back in front of Larson and regain the position on the closing laps.
The fight was so hard fought that both trucks suffered heavy damage by contacting with each other as well as the outside wall. After one final lunge by Larson the driver had to pull up as his truck suddenly let go. It was obvious that the final series of hits into the wall in an effort to put Wallace behind him had damaged his truck beyond the point to where it could be raced.
Hitting the Wall
Larson, in a veteran move, quickly pulled his truck to the bottom of the track and kept speed up as much as possible in order to keep the race green during the last few laps. He eventually pulled off the track letting the field go by and was relegated to finishing 26. During the battle Larson thinks he hit the wall over 70 times.
"I've hit a lot harder here at Eldora before," he said.
"I've been in the hospital after a race here before. I lost count probably after the first five (collisions) and that was in the first five laps. It's funny to watch me do that. But it's kind of stupid, too."
The top ten was rounded out by Ron Hornaday Jr. who finished second, followed by Ryan Blaney, Ken Schrader, and Ty Dillon nailed down the top five spots. John Hunter Nemechek, Jeb Burton, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and 2013 Mud Summer Classic winner Austin Dillon completed the top 10.