NASCAR: Mudsummer Classic at Eldora looks for a solid sequel

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Last year, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ “Mudsummer Classic” on dirt at Eldora Speedway was widely hailed as one of the events of the year.

The question for 2014 is whether the sequel, which will occur tonight, will be as good as the original.

Tickets were still available as of Wednesday morning although track owner Tony Stewart said earlier this week there were less than 1,000 remaining. “Smoke” still has a lot on his plate. A good piece here from Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass explains why the lack of sellout, yet, shouldn’t be a surprise.

The entry list for the race has a few surprises or welcome additions – Ken Schrader, last year’s polesitter, is back and the underdog of the night, Norm Benning, is back as well. Kyle Larson was arguably the star of the night a year ago and will be in another Turner Scott Motorsports truck, and 2013 race winner Austin Dillon looks for an encore.

There’s 34 trucks who will look to advance into the final following the heat races.

In some respects, the second year of an event is always more pivotal than the first. Last year, there was the fact it was an inaugural event and a race on dirt – something which hadn’t happened in NASCAR in years.

This year, the key is maintaining the momentum and interest level knowing it’s not “the first” of something. It’s up to this year’s Truck field to pull it off.

Here’s the day’s schedule:

Wednesday, July 23
Practice: 10:00 AM ET
Final practice: 11:30 AM ET
Qualifying: 5:00 PM ET
Qualifying / heat races: 7:00 PM ET
Pre-race: 8:30 PM ET
Race: 9:00 PM ET

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.