Tracy Hines Has Unfinished Business in Truck Series
At first glance, the Mudsummer Classic is just another stop on the July trail for two-time USAC open-wheel champion Tracy Hines.
The veteran racer is flush in the middle of Indiana Sprint Week — a series of consecutive sprint car shows — but this Tuesday and Wednesday presents an opportunity that Hines couldn’t pass up. As it turns out, Eldora is one of Hines’ favorite tracks and he has some unfinished business to take care of in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Hines competed in 48 Truck Series events with ThorSport Racing in 2004/2005 and returns to the team for the first time since on Tuesday afternoon. He had mid-level success during his NASCAR tenure but never really achieved the notoriety in the sport that he had in USAC.
And most importantly, the Mudsummer Classic presented the perfect opportunity to achieve a lifelong dream – to become a NASCAR winner.
“That’s something every driver wants to have on his resume for sure,” Hines told Popular Speed on Monday. “I never had a chip on my shoulder about what I did or didn’t achieve in NASCAR — these guys are some of the best in the world.
“But I do think this is the best chance I’ve had at showing what I can do in a NASCAR setting. ThorSport has really evolved into an elite level team over the past few years and it’s going to be incredibly fun to race for them again.”
Despite returning to the open-wheel ranks for the past 10 years, Hines has kept in touch with ThorSport owner Duke Thorson. When the NASCAR dirt event was first teased last summer, Hines sent Thorson a text and they agreed that they would run the race together if it materialized.
“I’m still flabbergasted,” Hines said of how quickly the Mudsummer Classic came together. “I felt that there was no way they could make this happen — but they have and it’s going to be huge.”
Hines said that the race fills a much-needed void in a Truck Series schedule that has increasingly been overran with intermediate speedways. Coming from the dirt and open-wheel ranks, Hines added that the current Truck Series system doesn’t give incentive for grassroots drivers to make the jump — and having a dirt event will help bridge the gap.
“I don’t want to speak for NASCAR,” Hines said. “But I do think that was the point of it, to get a full field of diverse drivers on a track that requires a slightly different skillset and the fans have responded. I hope they add more in the future. ”
Hines has won 12 times at the high-banked Eldora, including 11 victories is the elite level USAC national Sprint Car division, which is second on the track’s all-time wins list to only the legendary Jack Hewitt. But a victory in the inaugural Mudsummer Classic could be his most-prestigious trophy yet.