Cousin Carl Takes to Dirt: The 2007 Prelude to the Dream

2007 Prelude to the Dream
NEW WESTON, OH - JUNE 06: Carl Edwards #99 leads Kyle Bush #51 to win the Nextel Prelude to the Dream on June 6, 2007 at Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for Eldora Speedway)

One of the races that I miss seeing on a regular basis is the Prelude to the Dream that was ran at Eldora Speedway.

This race brought the best Nascar Cup drivers to the dirt for a little bit of fun and put on a show for a great cause. Some of these drivers had not been on dirt since they were coming up through the ranks. Others have never been on dirt.

The Prelude was a race where the best drovers in America got together for a little bit of fun. The only problem was most of them were driving other people’s cars. Eldora Speedway owner Tony Stewart put together this race for a great night.

It always was a huge fan draw and for good reason. How often do you get to see the likes of Jeff Gordon and Bill Elliott at your local dirt track? The answer in recent years, never. All of the Nascar stars at one place on one night? Sign me up.

The 2007 edition of the Prelude was broadcasted live on HBO as part of a Pay-Per-View. All of the money raised from the night, including the PPV, would go back to the Victory Junction Gang Camp opened by Kyle Petty in honor of his late son, Adam.

Cousin Carl Takes to Dirt: The 2007 Prelude to the Dream

As the night got underway with time trials, there were two big stories. One, who was the favorite, with so many drivers with a dirt background like Gordon, Elliott, Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Ken Schrader, Clint Bowyer Carl Edwards and JJ Yeley in the field, you didn’t know who was going to victory lane.

The other story was the guys who didn’t do dirt. Juan Pablo Montoya was a story as has never ran dirt prior to this event. Montoya had company though, because drivers like a young Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin didn’t have much experience on dirt.

Qualifying got underway and the crowd got to witness a legend of Nascar and racing in general on track when Red Farmer hit the Ohio dirt. Farmer did a lot of dirt racing all throughout his career and was a part of the Prelude at 70 years old.

2000 Nascar Champion Bobby Labonte won the pole after he set down the fastest lap late in the session.

Heat Races

Heat race one was the best of all of the heat races. Bowyer dominated the heat leading nearly every lap and took the win. It was the action behind him though that literally sent people flying.

A great battle heated up at the after an early spin by Elliott. ‘Awesome Bill from Dawsonville’ worked his way through the field to battle Ryan Newman at the end. Newman was on the bottom while Elliott was ripping the top of the track and they both collided at the start/finish line on the last lap. The collision sent Newman on his side after climbing up Elliott’s door, while the no. 9 went up the wall and rolled onto its roof.

Both drivers went unharmed in the accident. The same couldn’t be said for the cars, especially Elliott’s car.

“Unfortunately, that was one of my racecars,” Elliott said on the broadcast after the crash. “It was running good and was kind of hooked up on the high side. We will look at it and see what we got but I’m not going to worry too much about it.”

Elliott was unable to race the A-main that night.

Heats two and three were no where near that exciting as Kyle Busch cruised to a win in heat two while Kahne rolled to a victory in heat three.

The B-Main

The precursor to the main event was the B-main. Loaded with big time names, the B-main ended up being just as exciting as the feature. NHRA drivers Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon both were in the event. Sounds familiar during this off time that Capps was involved in another type of racing.

Matt Kenseth, Dave Blaney and Hamlin were all involved in the B-main and they ended up being the show. Sprint Car champion Blaney had issues in his heat race that sent him to the B but he made it interesting in that race. Unfortunately for him, Kenseth had a nice line and was able to hold off Hamlin and Blaney’s hard charge at the end.

Montoya was also involved in this race and ran well before getting spun. There were a good portion of cautions for a 12 lap race. Two of those cautions involved Montoya.

The Feature to the Prelude to the Dream

The big show was set for 30 laps and dirt track ace Ken Schrader was on the pole while fellow Missuori driver Edwards was on his outside. All drivers did qualify for the A-main and no one had to go home. Elliott Sadler who wrecked in the B-main and Bill Elliott did not make the call for the A-main.

Once the green flag flew there was action all over the track and it stayed that way all night long. Edwards made the immediate jump for the lead in the first turn and it stuck for him down the back before Schrader took it back in the opposite end as Schrader led lap one.

All drivers that were expected to be up front were as Edwards led Schrader, Stewart and Gordon on the second circuit around. Only 3 laps in, we had our first caution as Capps slowed down the back straight.

Action Filled Night

Action immediately picked back up and drivers were all over the speedway searching for lines to get around the car in front of them. At one point there were three cameras on the screen and all three had some sort of action on the track.

It makes me wonder why this race still isn’t ran today. The event and concept were perfect and the action was there.

Back on the track Gordon was making a move to catch Stewart while Kahne had worked his way through the field to make it a three-car race with Gordon and Stewart. Bowyer had started 11th and was already in the 9th spot four laps in.

After a Ray Evernham spin to bring out the caution on lap 7, Gordon and Stewart took their battle forward and started racing around Schrader for second place. Edwards was in his own world this evening. The field was only close due to the amount of cautions.

One of the bigger wrecks of the evening came on lap 17 when Stewart and Kahne collided. the incident would end Stewart’s bid at winning back to back Prelude races.

Following the Stewart crash, Gordon started to fade through the field as his car hadn’t drove the same for the rest of the night. One guy who was making the climb was ‘Rowdy’ Busch. He had started towards the back of the pack and was coming for Edwards.

Carl Fends Off Challenges

As the laps wound down it was going to be a three car battle for the win. Edwards in the cat-bird seat being the leader, Busch was wound up on the high side and Gordon made it interesting on the bottom.

The lines were right but the laps were not enough for the second and third place driver that night. Edwards crossed the line first to win the 2007 Prelude to the Dream. It was the third different winner in three years of the event and by far the most action packed race in event history.

Edwards did a signature backflip while fireworks filled the Ohio air.

“I just can’t thank Tony Stewart and everybody, all the fans, everybody at home for doing this for Victory Junction Gang Camp,” Edwards said after the race on the broadcast. “That’s just unbelievable. That’s just so awesome. I’m so fortunate to get to do this and this is one of the biggest wins of my career, this is fun.

I certainly miss this event and hope to see it come back at some point. This race and the IRacing we are currently seeing just shows that no matter the race, these drivers are all in for it.

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