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DATE News (chronologically)
06/06/12
racing news
Prelude To The Dream Pre-Race Quotes
TONY STEWART (Three-Time and Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion & Three-Time Prelude Winner):

What are your overall thoughts on the Prelude To The Dream?

“It’s great for us as competitors because we get a chance to go out and do something that we don’t get the chance to do all season long with each other. There are a lot of us drivers who get a chance to race at dirt tracks or run at Late Model pavement tracks across the country, but we never get to do it together as a group. So, to go to Eldora Speedway, to run Late Models on dirt, and to have a night where we can do this all for charity and for kids – it’s just an unbelievable night for us.”

The charity aspect has always been a huge part of the Prelude To The Dream. Talk about supporting Feed The Children this year.

“Having Feed the Children on board, and the fact that we’re trying to feed 16 million children and keep them from feeling hungry each day, is a great, great cause, and it’s a great goal for us and motivation to know why we’re here. And, and as much as we want to have fun, there’s a lot bigger cause here and we’re excited to do this for Feed the Children.”

Danica Patrick will make her Dirt Late Model debut in the Prelude To The Dream. Talk about that.

“She’s never driven anything like this and I don’t think she’s really been on dirt, ever. So I’ll tell her the same thing we’ve told everybody else who comes – try to go out and follow somebody who’s been around there before, and they can show you how to do it. You’re going to be able to learn something by following them, and you’ll get an idea of the rhythm and the pace of how to get around there. But it’s a tricky place to learn, so we’ll see how she adapts.”


The drivers in the 2012 Prelude To The Dream have combined for 60 championships in all forms of racing. How big are the bragging rights for the driver winning the Prelude?

“Yeah, it’s big bragging rights amongst each other. I mean, it’s not so much that we worry about how everybody else thinks about it. But, internally amongst each other in the garage area and from the different series, we want to be the guy who has beat the rest of them. So it’s very important. It’s something these guys take a lot of pride in and, like we say when we get to the Cup weekend after that, that’s what we talk about the first two days until we race on Sunday.”

ARIC ALMIROLA (Two-Time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner):

Overall thoughts on the Prelude? 

“It’s awesome. To be able to go and run that race and to compete against the best guys in our business, but to do it on a totally different platform, is a lot of fun. I’m going on my sixth year. Every year is more and more fun, and I enjoy it that much more because I’m getting better at it.”

What has helped you improve each year at the Prelude?

“It’s just track time. We show up there, we get just a few minutes of hot laps, then we’re expected to go qualify, and heat race, and race. And, next thing you know, the night’s over and you had a lot of fun, but you didn’t really get to learn that much. So, every year I go back, I feel like I learn a little bit more. Equipment’s always a big deal. This past year, I drove Clint Smith’s car, which he’s got top-notch equipment on the World of Outlaws circuit. So, I’ve had a lot of fun the last few years I’ve done it. I can’t wait. I mark the date off on my calendar at the beginning of every year. Circle it really big. That’s an event I look forward to all year.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON (Five-Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion & 2010 Prelude Winner):

There are an extra 10 laps this year in the feature race. Talk about that.

“It will give you some more time to get through the field if you have a bad qualifying effort, which was my case last year. I didn’t qualify all that well. But we don’t want it (the race) to end, unless you’re the leader. We all enjoy coming out and participating in this event. We love driving these cars. We all love Eldora. And we all kind of like Tony, too (laughs). So it’s a great event. We want to be a part of it. And the more laps the better.”

It seems like you and other drivers are becoming more and more comfortable with running on dirt. Why is that?

“We’re all getting a heck of a lot better at it. In the past, some of us would test and now we all just show up and get in the car and throw down laps from the beginning. I also see where we’re getting much more comfortable without having spotters. For a lot of us, it’s been quite some time since we’ve been in a car with no spotters. So the whole flow on the track is getting better. We’re all leaving each other room and making sure we know we’re handling that right. And then, everybody’s fast now. I mean, there’s no way you can just come in and expect to beat up on the guys and take a trophy home. You’ve got to show up ready to go from a driver’s standpoint and the team because we’re all driving great equipment. So it’s an important race.”

DONNY SCHATZ (Four-Time World of Outlaws Champion):

What are your thoughts about competing in your first Prelude To The Dream and your first Dirt Late Model race?

“I can only hope I can get the hang of driving a Dirt Late Model just as fast as Tony got the hang of driving a Winged Sprint car. I might be asking a lot for my first race ever in a Dirt Late Model. One night isn’t much time, but Steve (Kinser) and I both have a really good idea of how dirt changes through the night. Once we get a feel for how to run the car, I think we’ll be OK. It’s such a great opportunity and something I’ll remember for the rest of my career. We love to compete, so that’s why this is going to be so much fun. We’ll be out of our comfort zone for a while, but just about everyone else will be, too. I’m sure Steve and I will bounce some things off each other during the night and try to get each other up to speed.”

KYLE BUSCH (2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion):

You’ve come close to winning the Prelude before. What are your thoughts heading into the 2012 Prelude To The Dream?

“Yeah, I’ve been close a few years. It’s been fun to race the Prelude. Tony puts on a great show, and it’s always cool. The first year, I remember it was really tacky and you could move all over the place. And then it kind of glazed over and you still raced all over the place. The last couple years it’s been more single-file. You know, you get up along the outside and it’s kind of only one-groovish. I’m trying to make the bottom work and make ground, but momentum is just so important around the top side. You try to pull some slide jobs on some guys and get down low and then slide up in their groove. And they’ll come back and they’ll slide you in the next corner. So it’s fun racing and it’s just a part of what you’ve got to do in order to get up front.”


What are your thoughts on double-file restarts for this year’s race?

“I think double-file restarts are going to be interesting. At first they would have a single-file and they’d lay the cone out there and you couldn’t pass until the cone. So, now it’s definitely going to be a handful, having cars on your outside or inside or wherever you might be, and trying to figure out what to do. Do you slide that guy, do you let him go in front of you, or do you try to fill that hole? How hard do you have to run? It’s just so much that goes on at a dirt race and we don’t do it every week. It’s certainly something new to us and you kind of have to get a feel for it as you get there and you only get a couple of practice sessions, so there’s not much time to explore and experience.”


How would you describe the Prelude to someone?

“This event is fun. It takes you through a whole night of short-track racing at a local dirt track. You get some practices in, you get the local show that comes out and still participates. But then you also get all your stars. All the big players you see racing in the Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide Series, NHRA guys come out, Sprint car guys come out. Sprint Cup guys, of course, and it’s all thrown together and we’re racing on dirt, in something we all don’t really race very often. And it’s just a fun show. It’s great, and it’s for charity, with the money raised through the HBO Pay-Per-View going to Feed The Children.”


KURT BUSCH (2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion):

What are your thoughts about competing in the Prelude To The Dream for the first time since 2006?

“Just going to Eldora is a treat in itself. And then racing on the dirt, pulling tear-offs, you know, just hanging out with the fraternity of drivers, doing something like this is fun. But then, doing it for charity, making a difference, that’s what Tony Stewart’s always been about.”


Is it going to be an adjustment after being away from the dirt for so long?

“Oh, it takes a while. I mean, I’m the guy who wants to just wants to pitch it sideways and be 99-percent throttle all the way around. But I’m used to tracks out in the Desert Southwest that go dry-slick. So, a lot of throttle control has to be played with these Dirt Late Models. The toughest part is they’re so wide. The next thing you know is, you’re rubbing the right rear on the fence when you’re going down the straightaway.”


If you finish in the top-10, Feed the Children will send a food truck to your hometown or a city of your choice. That must make the event even more special.

“Well, we’re all there to make a difference. It’s a great incentive to make it a competition where you can make a difference with your charity, or through this Feed the Children program. We all want to win it, now. We all want to be in that top-10, so, whatever it takes. If I’m running 11th, if someone else is 10th, I’m wanting my dish to go to Las Vegas.”

DANICA PATRICK (2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year; 2008 IZOD IndyCar Series race winner at Twin Ring Motegi):

What are your thoughts about competing in your first Prelude To The Dream and your first Dirt Late Model race?

“I think it’s a really great format for a bunch of drivers, unique drivers, to be able to get together and race it out, and raise money for Feed The Children. It will be fun to be able to bump and bang and get out there and just have fun. It counts for everything and it counts for nothing. It’s very important, but it’s a time to have a good time.”


Have you ever been to Eldora before?

“I’ve heard of Eldora. My dad used to race Midgets. So I’ve heard of all these dirt tracks all over the place. And I’ve been to some of them. But I don’t think I’ve been to Eldora before. I have been to a dirt track before. My sister and I, when we were kids, which was probably kind of why we got into racing, we would go and we’d hang out in the stands and my dad would be working down in the pits because we weren’t old enough to be down there.”


Have you ever raced on dirt before?

“I raced on dirt one time in my life in a Go-Kart. It was at Charlotte, actually. There’s a little dirt track outside of the back straightway. I was probably 14 years old, so, you know we’re talking about 15 years ago, so I don’t even remember. I just remember that I didn’t suck, so that’s good. But it’s definitely not something I have a lot of experience with. My dad used to race on dirt and, in the winter when it would snow, he’d call it rallying. He’d say, ‘Let’s go rallying,’ and he would drive sideways around the neighborhood. And it wasn’t my thing. So, I hope I’ve got some genetics for racing on dirt. And getting it sideways.”


What advice will you seek?

“I’m sure I’ll just kind of ask general questions – when to lift, when not to lift. Things like that. But when I heard that you get sideways when you get out of the throttle, I thought, ‘Well, that just sounds like fun.’ So I think it’s just going to come from running it. And, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how I do. It just matters that we’re all there, and that we’re putting on a good show, and that we’re generating attention and everybody’s going and purchasing the event on HBO Pay-Per-View and making a lot of money for Feed The Children.”

STEVE KINSER (20-Time World of Outlaws Champion):

What are your thoughts about competing in your first Prelude To The Dream and your first Dirt Late Model race?

“I’ve made a lot of laps around Eldora the last 30 years but I’ve never done it in a Dirt Late Model. Heck, I’ve never even raced one anywhere, let alone at Eldora. I’m really not sure what to expect, but Tony will be a pretty big asset. He’s been in a Late Model and a Winged Sprint Car there, before, so I’m sure he can translate some of the similarities. It’s going to be something different, that’s for sure.”

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