ROSSBURG, OHIO (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Level Green’s Norm Benning is hoping to make history again tonight as the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series makes its annual visit to Eldora Speedway for the Eldora Dirt Derby Thursday night.
Benning, an independent, old-school driver, made Truck Series and NASCAR history by his sheer determination to get into the main event during the finish of the inaugural last chance race in 2013.
While Benning was conducting his post-race television interview, crews from other teams rushed to Benning’s truck to begin making repairs to his damaged truck.
“Norm, you just made this show a success,” Eldora Speedway owner Tony Stewart said at the time.
Stewart purchased Benning’s truck from that race and put it on display at Eldora.
“It was important to me just because of the history of the event,” Stewart told The Sporting News. “I don’t know that everybody remembers who won the race as much as everybody remember Norm Benning’s last couple laps just to get in the race in the last chance race.”
Eldora is the only non-paved venue that one of the NASCAR national series visits. The half-mile dirt track also is the only race that sets the field through five qualifying races and the last chance qualifying race that Benning helped make historic.
Benning is one of thirty-two drivers are entered into Thursday night’s race along with defending race-winner Chase Briscoe, who was only in the race as a one-off for his ThorSport Racing Team. Briscoe edged out teammate Grant Enfinger in a door-to-door battle to the finish.
Enfinger is looking for a win in 2019 along with Truck Series regulars Matt Crafton and Stewart Friesen. A win would lock one of those drivers into the NASCAR playoffs.
Friesen finished third last year and sat on the pole position at Eldora in 2017. Friesen sits 13-points ahead of Harrison Burton, who sits in ninth place in the points standings, one spot outside the final qualifying spot for the playoffs.
Burton’s Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Todd Gilliland sits 85-points behind the final spot held by Friesen so his only hope to get in with two races left before the playoffs.
Spectator gates open at Noon with Super DIRTcar Big Block Modified practice at 6:30 followed at 7 p.m. by the NASCAR Heat races. The Super DIRTcar Big Block feature starts at 7:55 p.m. with the NASCAR Last Chance Race beginning at 8:15 p.m. followed by driver introductions at 8:40 p.m. and race at 9:00 p.m.
The race will be televised by FS1 beginning at 8:30 p.m. and can be heard on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.