1) Tony Stewart
Coming off the win at Knoxville Speedway, Stewart will be looking to maintain his perfect record on the dirt with SRX. He’s also been winning races at Eldora for a long time, including USAC Midget and Sprint Car wins during the 1995 4-Crown Nationals and three wins in the Prelude to the Dream.
2) Kody Swanson
Doug Coby won at Stafford as the local hero, but Brian Brown struggled in adjusting to the full-body SRX car en route to an eighth place finish at Knoxville Raceway, where he is a four-time 410 Sprint Car track champion. Swanson has turned plenty of laps in USAC competition and has gained experience in fendered cars this season with Team Platinum, so now we’ll see if he can put it all together.
3) Ernie Francis, Jr.
The Trans-Am champion has been one of the surprise standouts of the SRX season, and that was especially true at Knoxville Raceway. With a dirt race under his belt, we’ll see if Francis can continue that trend at Eldora.
4) Scott Speed
Scott Speed has spent plenty of time playing in the dirt, usually in rallycross competition where he holds multiple championships and three X-Games gold medals. While he doesn’t have as much experience on dirt ovals, he can at least call back on trips to the Illinois State Fairgrounds and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds during his time in the ARCA Menards Series.
5) Bill Elliott
If “Awesome Bill” can get a car to make it to the finish of a race, he’ll finally be able to get a finish he deserves out of the first half of the SRX season. He also was a frequent participant in the Prelude to the Dream, including a top-five finish in 2005, so he can get around Eldora.
6) Helio Castroneves
Before the season started, Castroneves joked that he hadn’t raced on dirt since he was 12 years old on a BMX bike. 34 years and four Indianapolis 500 victories later, Castroneves finished fourth with the SRX at Knoxville. Now that he’s knocked the dust off, no pun intended, we’ll see how he fares at Eldora.
7) Michael Waltrip
All jokes from Tony Stewart aside in victory lane, the two-time Daytona 500 winner proved he could hustle the SRX cars around the dirt at Knoxville. If he can carry that over to Eldora, he might have a shot at a podium finish or even a win despite being middle-of-the-road on this ranking.
8) Bobby Labonte
Labonte had a respectable sixth-place showing at Knoxville, improving throughout the evening after finishing in the bottom half of the field in both heat races. He’s not likely to embarrass himself at Eldora, but he’s probably not going to be complaining when he’s back on pavement Sunday at Kil-Kare Raceway with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, either.
9) Tony Kanaan
Back in the saddle after a week away, Kanaan is another with experience at Eldora from the old Prelude to the Dream. He’ll be hoping to tap into that experience after missing out on seat time in the SRX car on the dirt last week.
10) Marco Andretti
Marco has had flashes of brilliance during the SRX season, such as his three-wide move to the lead at Stafford and a second-place finish in the opening heat at Knoxville. However, he has finishes of seventh and 10th in the two main events
11) Paul Tracy
Tracy flexed some muscle with a fifth-place finish in the first heat at Knoxville, but ultimately struggled adapting to the dirt track with several mishaps and spins before finishing 12th in the feature.
12) Willy T. Ribbs
Ribbs was the last car on the lead lap after the Knoxville main event and finished 11th out of 12 in both heat races. Ribbs admitted going in to the season to a lack of dirt racing experience, and it certainly did not come naturally to him last week.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo