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Stewart Wins Fifth Annual Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway


Prelude to the Dream winner Tony Stewart with IFHF Executive Vice President Dave Winters
 

ROSSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 9, 2009) – Tony Stewart won the fifth annual Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream all-star dirt late model race Wednesday night at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, marking the third time in four years Stewart has won the event.

 
Stewart passed Kenny Wallace on lap 13 of the 30-lap event and led the final 18 laps en route to victory.  
 
“This was probably the best I’ve run in the Prelude,” said Stewart, who bought Eldora in 2004.  “We won last year, I think we led the whole thing, but this was one I had to work for.  We weren’t exactly perfect, and we weren’t perfect because I hit the wall on the first two starts right off the bat.”
 
Clint Bowyer finished 3.358 seconds behind Stewart in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five.  Drag Racing standout Cruz Pedregon, David Reutimann, Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson comprised the top-10.
 
There were four caution periods during the event, although the laps conducted under caution did not count.
 
The race, which drew more than 23,000 fans, was broadcast live on HBO Pay-Per-View with proceeds from the nationwide telecast supporting four military-themed charities – Wounded Warrior Project, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Operation Homefront and Fisher House.  Each has a mission that outlines assistance to the courageous men and women who serve their country and need additional support both during and after their time of service.
 
“The Wounded Warriors Project, Fisher House, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and Operation Homefront, that’s who this money’s going to tonight,” Stewart said.  “Thank you to the fans – you guys helped us do this and you’re the reason we were able to do this tonight.  I just really appreciate the support that our fans give us here.  We also can’t thank the drivers enough.  With the rainout in June, it really means a lot that they were able to rearrange their schedules and come out and help us do this tonight.
 
“We’re proud to do this.  Thanks to Gillette and HBO, we’ve been able to do more than we ever thought here at the Prelude.  The fans keep making it bigger and better every year.  As long as the fans keep coming and I can keep getting drivers to come out, we’re going to keep doing this every year.”
 
All race information from the fifth annual Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream, from starting lineups to qualifying and finishing results, can be found at www.TrueSpeedMedia.com by simply clicking on the event logo.
 
Photos from the 2009 Gillette Young Guns Prelude to the Dream are now available to the media online through Getty Images.  Media will not be charged an editorial usage fee for images from the event.  To view and download materials, please register at www.image.net and select “SPORTS” in the “Subjects You Cover” section.”
 
Tony Stewart, Winner:
 
Talk about your win.
 
“We had a lot of fun tonight. This makes up for the spring rainout for sure. What a great race with Kenny Wallace, Clint Bowyer, Rowdy (Kyle) Busch, Ryan Newman and Kasey (Kahne,) we had an awesome run there. We got lucky to get by them on the top and then to get by Kenny (Wallace) was great.”
 
“This was probably the best I’ve run in the Prelude. We won last year, I think we led the whole thing, but this was one I had to work for. We weren’t exactly perfect, and we weren’t perfect because I hit the wall on the first two starts right off the bat. I’m sure there is a lot of bent up stuff on this Rocket Chassis car, so I’m just really proud of Mark and Josh Richards and all of these fans here and that watched tonight. This is something that took a lot of time and effort, not on my part, but with everyone involved with this event here at Eldora Speedway. They have just done an awesome job of helping us to raise thousands of dollars for these charities.
 
You keep winning your own races.  What’s up with that?
 
“If Gillette will put a bounty up to put me on the tail of the field to start next year, I’ll start on the tail of the field.”
 
You started sixth.  How did you get to the front?
 
“It was like everyone moved in the direction I needed them to move in order to get to the front. I couldn’t really run on the bottom, but they seemed to all open up on the top and that let me get the spots.”
 
There were four very deserving charities that will get a nice donation from tonight’s Prelude.
 
“The Wounded Warriors Project, the Fisher House, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and Operation Homefront, that’s who this money’s going to tonight. Thank you to the fans – you guys helped us do this and you’re the reason we were able to do this tonight. I just really appreciate the support that our fans give us here. We also can’t thank the drivers enough. With the rainout in June, it really means a lot that they were able to rearrange their schedules and come out and help us do this tonight.
 
“We’re proud to do this. Thanks to Gillette and HBO, we’ve been able to do more than we ever thought here at the Prelude. The fans keep making it bigger and better every year. As long as the fans keep coming and I can keep getting drivers to come out, we’re going to keep doing this every year.”
 
Clint Bowyer, Second-Place:
 
Tell us about your night.
 
“He (Stewart) works his butt off for this event. Man, it's only right that he does win it. You put in that much work into something and he wants to win, too. He's a competitor and he runs good. He's one of the best racers in the world, and he showed it again tonight. (On the incident with Kenny Wallace:) I didn't mean it. Kenny spun his tires on his restart and kind of came across my nose. I tried to miss it, but he was already spinning. That's the thing about these cars. You break traction and you can't get it back. You can't back-pedal enough. I had momentum in that deal. But it was fun. The cushion, that's dirt racing, you never know what you're going to have. Some nights it's on top, some nights it's on the bottom, some nights you've got both. It was certainly on the top tonight and kind of one line. But, hey, we got it in."
 
Kyle Busch, Third-Place:
 
Tell us about your night.
 
“It’s tough to beat the track owner at his own track. Nah, I’m just joking. It was great. I really want to thank Gillette Young Guns and Gillette, M&M’s – everybody on this car here. Scott Bloomquist was a great help for me. It was really cool to come out here, have some fun. Get a good run here. Last year, I struggled here a little bit. That was pretty cool. Wish it was a little more racing than the one groove that we had.”
 
Is this something you would like to do more than once a year?
 
“I’ve done it twice this year, and I’ve finished second and third, so my record seems to be okay. My average finish is definitely a lot better than my Cup effort.”
 
Anything you can take from here into this weekend momentum wise?
 
“No, not at all. We’ll just get down to Richmond and hopefully give it a good run and see what we can do.”
 
Ryan Newman, Fourth-Place:
 
What did you see out there tonight?
 
“Well, I thought it was pretty good racing. Tony (Stewart) did a great job obviously. I wanna thank all the fans for coming out. It’s just a blast to do this and obviously for a great reason with the injured and wounded warriors and fallen heroes as the charities. It was cool when it was kids and now it is really cool because we couldn’t do what we’re doing without the people that fought for our freedom a long time ago. To give back like this is awesome. It’s the best way for us drivers to give back, and obviously for the fans to come out the way that they did and buying it on TV – it was really special.”
 
This is something that is obviously really close to your heart because of your U.S. Army sponsorship. Did you get a chance to talk to the soldiers or wounded warriors that were here tonight?
 
“I talked to a good few of them – even the National Guard guys who don’t always associate themselves with the Army guys came around and talked and took pictures. It’s just special. I’ve got to thank Tony (Stewart) and all the people for putting this on – obviously Gillette, Old Spice, Bass Pro Shops, everybody that helps out with this function. It’s a blast to drive the racecars, but to see the soldiers here and what we are doing this for, it was really special. They call them soldiers, but they are really heroes.”
 
At any point tonight did you think you could be your boss?
 
“When he was behind me. I knew that he was going to be the guy to beat. I said that before. If you are going to beat somebody, you might as well beat Tony here because that will give you a good shot at the win. Obviously, it would have been nice tonight, but to start fourth and finish fourth and do some passing, it was the most competitive I have felt in a dirt late model. I had a blast.”
 
Anything you can take from tonight and carry-over into the weekend at Richmond?
 
“Excitement, adrenaline, fun. I mean, it’s what it is all about. When you have a good night like this, it definitely helps. I really look forward to this weekend.”
 
Matt Kenseth, Fifth-Place:
 
How was the track tonight?
 
“The track was good, I guess. I don’t run much dirt. We didn’t wreck it too bad so that’s good. The one run right before the caution I was running fast and it seemed like I was catching the leaders there. But after the caution, I just couldn’t get going again. The track was in really good shape, but it was slick.”
 
How does the track change every time you come here?
 
“I never now what to expect here. I didn’t think we’d qualify that fast, so I was surprised. The speeds were slow, and the track got slower and slower as the night went on. I was surprised by that. How it is now (at the end) is what I expected it to be.”
 
Cruz Pedregon, Sixth-Place:
 
Tell us about your night.
 
“I had a good car, but fatigue started to set in. I knew where I wanted to run on the track. Parnelli Jones once told me, 'You've got to go where they're not.' My plan was to do what I did: slide guys and I wanted to make sure I cleared them. You know, for a drag racer – I've probably raced 12 Late Model races in my career that started about three years ago thanks to Tony and his whole group here – this is the most fun type of car I've ever driven. These cars are incredible, but they're very difficult to drive. Had it not been the eight or 10 (Late Model) races I ran this year, I probably wouldn't have passed anyone tonight. But that experienced helped me out a lot. In previous years, I did just some hot laps at different tracks before this event. But this year I went out and bought my own car. I bought a rocket car. And I decided that this is such a neat event and it's such an honor for a guy like me to come in a different venue, that I thought there are not many opportunities where you can race in front of a crowd like this, race with all these guys, so I invested in a car and went out to different tracks around the Indianapolis area and thought if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right. So that's about as good as it gets. I think I was a slight bit over my head, there. But I kept picking guys off, so I thought, let's keep it going. It's a great feeling. My goal was to finish in the top-10 tonight and I got sixth. So, I'm so excited and happy to have done this event. I hope the fans enjoyed it."
 
Kasey Kahne, Ninth-Place:
 
Tell us about your night.
 
“We had a great car throughout most of the night. It was a lot of fun to drive, and a lot of fun to race with these guys. We just missed it in the main event.”
 
Talk a little bit about why you guys take the time to come out do the Prelude.
 
“We get to race late models and come out and raise money for a great cause. It’s enjoyable. Everybody gets to do it. It makes a lot of sense to come out here and have fun for the night with no pressures. It’s time to just go out, enjoy yourself and race hard.”
 
With the Chase weighing on everyone’s minds does this give you any momentum going into Richmond?
 
“This is just kind of  a nice part of the week. Saturday night will all start on Friday with practice and getting the car where it needs to be. Then Saturday we just need to have a clean night. Tonight’s just a great part of the week, and a fun part of the week looking ahead to Richmond.”
 
Jimmie Johnson, 10th-Place:
 
Tell us about your night.
 
“To win a heat race and beat Tony (Stewart) is awesome. Starting that deep in the field (10th), it's really tough to pass guys. So I just kind of rode around and had fun. You'd think if you win a heat they'd give you a chance to start up front. (Laugh.) No, I understand, it's all good inverted short-track racing stuff. I had a blast tonight. It was a lot of fun. I never experienced movement like this before, so there's a lot of new things I went through tonight and learned. All in all, really good."
 
Kenny Wallace, 17th-Place(top-three for most of the night before incident on final restart with Bowyer):
 
Tell us about your night.
 
“You know, it's disappointing because I take this as a real race. We led, Tony was just really fast, he got by us. And then Clint (Bowyer) got into my left rear and flattened it out, so it was a real bummer. It's disappointing. On to Richmond."
 
Joey Logano, 20th-Place:
 
Tell us about your night.
 
“It didn’t go so well. I’m fine. It was a good car again, driving to the front, running alright. And then they wrecked in front of me and I had nowhere to go on that. The track is fun, but you just can’t see three cars in front of you when you’re in the back like that. By the time you go into a corner and see it (a crash) and the track is so slick, and you just slide, and you slide and you just slide right into the wreck. It’s a bummer.”
 
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For More Information, Contact:
 
Joe Crowley
True Speed Communication                                                                              
317.569.9514 or Joe.Crowley@TrueSpeedCommunication.com   
 
Patrick Byrne
HBO Pay-Per-View                             
212.512.1361 or Patrick.Byrne@hbo.com
 
Mike Norton
Gillette
617.421.8201 or Norton.mr@pg.com