Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, and Clint Bowyer and Kenny Wallace are all well known names in NASCAR circles, but they haven’t forgotten where they came from.
They all started on the half-mile dirt tracks and still are involved in keeping grass roots racing going strong. Stewart came up through the USAC ranks and still owns USAC and World of Outlaws race teams. Kahne was a WOO driver and now fields WOO teams. Bowyer grew up racing dirt late models in the Midwest and all three have a huge influence in dirt racing.
This year at the Chili Bowl, Stewart fielded a car that Kahne drove to raise money for Charlie Dean Leffler who lost his father Jason in a sprint car accident in 2013.
All you have to do is look at the WOO sprint car standings and you see the influence of Stewart and Kahne. Donny Schatz leads the points driving for Tony Stewart Racing and he is closely followed by Daryn Pittman who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing.
Bowyer fields dirt late models for Don O’Neal who leads the points the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and Jared Landers who is in fifth.
Austin and Ty Dillon grew up racing dirt late models in North Carolina and still dip their toes into the dirt ranks. You can bank on them running trucks in the MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway owned by Stewart.
As a kid I grew up watching sprint cars at Port Royal Speedway in Pennsylvania. I enjoy watching NASCAR, but watching 24 sprint cars on a half-mile dirt track is like watching magicians in action. They have the same amount of horsepower as a Sprint Cup car; they have no mirrors, no spotters and can’t see their front wheels. You hear the announcers say that the best drivers are in NASCAR, but I will argue that when the World of Outlaws comes to Pennsylvania to battle the Posse is when you get 24 of the best drivers in the world on a track.
Thankfully Stewart, Kahne and Bowyer are still supporting local dirt track racing and helping a couple series flourish.