The skinny on format changes for Dream XVIII
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
A comparison of the new format with the old format for Dream XVII presented by Ferris Commercial Mowers, the $100,000-to-win UMP DIRTcar event scheduled for June 8-9 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio (if not mentioned otherwise, specific parts of format remain the same):
Old format: All entries participate in two rounds of single-lap qualifying with top 120 qualifiers advancing to heat races.
New format: All entries participate in two rounds of single-lap qualifying with top 60 qualifiers advancing to heat races.
The skinny: The 120-car cutoff has been a virtual non-issue over the last five seasons, but the 60-car cutoff puts a new spin on things. Are time trials any more important? Not necessarily, because now a driver with an awful qualifying performance — someone who bashes the wall on the first lap and can’t make repairs for the second lap — has a chance to recover with a strong performance in the qualifying races (see below).
Old format: Drivers who qualify 121st and below compete in a non-qualifier race Friday that ends their weekend (unless those drivers are able to start a Saturday heat race as an alternate).
New format: No non-qualifier races scheduled.
The skinny: The addition of “qualifying races” instead of “non-qualifier races” gives a little more heft to a victory at Eldora, not mention a sixth-row starting spot in a Saturday heat race instead of loading up for good on Friday.
Old format: None.
New format: Qualifiers from 61st and below will be staggered three $1,000-to-win, $100-to-start qualifying races after Friday’s time trials. The top 20 finishers from each race will transfer to Saturday’s heat races with the winners lining up 11th.
The skinny: For the first time since 2007, Friday night will have some racing action. And for the first time ever at the Dream, the Friday night racing will help set lineups for Saturday’s heat races. After sitting four hours of hot laps and time trials, the racing action will be welcomed. Look for drivers with subpar time trials efforts to build some momentum toward Saturday, or for unheralded drivers to get a chance to shine during one of the track’s biggest weekends. The races will also count as UMP points for drivers who don’t advance to another UMP points-paying event.
Old format: Heat race finishers 7-10 compete for 15 laps with the top six transferring to the B-Main.
New format: Heat race finishers 7-10 race for 15 laps with the top six transferring to the B-Main. After the checkers fall, the top six will exit the track and the remaining cars will restart in the current running order for a five-lap “scramble” that pays $1,000-to-win, $150-to-start event.
The skinny: The scramble addition provides three things: more racing, more money for racers and the potential for racers to earn UMP points. It will be interesting to see how quickly the scramble gets lined up and if it encourages drivers to stay on the track in the first 15 laps if a transfer spot is otherwise hopeless.,
Old format: Heat race finishers 4-6 (along with six C-Main transfers) compete for 15 laps with the top six transferring to the main event.
New format: Heat race finishers 4-6 (along with six C-Main transfers) compete for 15 laps with the top six transferring to the main event. After the checkers fall, the top six will exit the track and the remaining cars will restart in the current running order for a five-lap “scramble” that pays $1,000-to-win, $150-to-start event.
The skinny: Likewise with the C-Main scramble, drivers who can’t crack the feature lineup get a chance at some extra cash.
Note: Provisional starters will receive $1,500 if they finish 25th or 26th or have $250 deducted from their pay otherwise.
The skinny: Along with extra money spread out through preliminary races, Eldora has added the extra feature money to the back half of the purse, with starting money boosted by $250.