Stewart, Madsen Aim to Maintain Eldora Momentum
by Clayton Johns
CONCORD, NC – April 25, 2017 – The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series will make the first of three trips to Eldora Speedway in early May as part of the series’ annual #LetsRaceTwo spring event on May 12-13. The Outlaws are scheduled to race the Rossburg half-mile six times, but the pair of May races are the Outlaws’ only tune-up at Eldora before July’s $50,000-to-win King’s Royal.
Kerry Madsen and Shane Stewart have been the most dominant drivers at Eldora over the past five seasons. Madsen, a native of St. Mary’s, NSW, AUS, has collected five victories at Eldora since 2013 including a sweep of the #LetsRaceTwo weekend last May.
Madsen is a former full-time Outlaw now racing weekly at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway and throughout the Midwest. However, he doesn’t feel competing weekly on Knoxville’s half-mile configuration offers any advantage at Eldora.
“Other than it’s a half-mile, they’re completely different in technical and discipline,” Madsen said. “Really no notes carry over. You can do things at Eldora setup wise that you cannot do at Knoxville, and vice versa. It’s definitely a completely different race track.”
Given his accomplishments there over the last five years, its no surprise Eldora is one of Madsen’s favorite tracks. However, it’s always been at the top of his list.
“At Eldora, when they’ve got the track right and it’s against the wall, but there’s other lines and slide jobs, there’s nothing better to watch,” Madsen said. “It was the first track that really got me hooked on Sprint Car racing.”
Bixby, OK-native Shane Stewart is the Outlaws’ most recent victor at Eldora after he scored the win during the 2016 Four Crown Nationals event on September 23, his fourth win at the Ohio track in three seasons. Stewart also made waves two seasons ago during his first full Outlaw season behind the wheel of the Larson Marks Racing No.2 when he swept the 2015 King’s Royal weekend.
“The tricky part about Eldora is you always have to tell yourself to turn right, which sounds crazy,” Stewart said. “Just the way that the cars work with the wings and the stagger, your car wants to go to the left. You have to tell yourself to continue to turn right and stay as close to that fence as you can. That’s the hard part and scary part at times.”
Racing with the right-rear tire leaning on a cushion planted firmly against the outside wall is commonplace at Eldora, but it certainly requires some practice.
“The guys that go there for the first two or three times, it takes some nerves to get up there and get up against the fence,” Stewart said. “Once you’ve experienced it and know you can race up there and not wreck, that’s the hurdle that people have to overcome.”
“If your car’s not right, you can’t do it,” Madsen said. “It’s a total package to be quick on the wall.”
Regardless of results, both Madsen and Stewart feel each trip to Eldora is worth savoring. Eldora has a long history with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series as the only track that has hosted the tour in all 40 seasons of its existence.
“The history is pretty deep there,” Stewart said. “The roots run deep in the Sprint Car world. When you roll through the gate, that’s one of the races and one of the tracks that you want to run well at.”
“It’s pretty awe-inspiring and it definitely gets your blood flowing as you roll in,” Madsen said. “Then you get in there and you look at the banking and the size of it and it gets your attention. It never fails to disappoint.”
A number of other full-time Outlaws have had recent success at Eldora, including current Series point leader Donny Schatz. The Fargo, ND native won the 2016 King’s Royal and swept the 2015 edition of the spring weekend. David Gravel, Daryn Pittman and Joey Saldana each have a pair of wins at Eldora over the last five seasons.
Tickets for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series #LetsRaceTwo weekend, also featuring the USAC Sprint Cars, are available online at eldoraspeedway.ticketforce.com or by calling (937) 338-3815. Reserved camping is also available for the weekend by visiting eldoraspeedway.com.