It's often described as the mecca of all dirt tracks, and some even describe it as dirt track racing's version of Daytona.
Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, played host to the sixth annual "Prelude to the Dream." For the 20,000-plus fans in attendance, and the pay-per-view audience at home, the race was more than what they expected.
The track itself started out extremely tacky in the first practice session, but almost immediately changed by the time the second started.
Drivers soon began looking for a better line as the clay surface began to dry out, but didn't quite lose grip. At Eldora, much like Darlington, the fast line was around the top. However, during practice the drivers began testing the bottom to see if there could be grip found.
At the time, there was not much success. But things changed as the night progressed.
Qualifying itself saw every car run the cushion next to the wall. Some found a lot of speed, while others were struggling to get the grip.
The driver who found it the best was Clint Bowyer, as he took the pole and would set up the line-ups for the three heat races.
Prior to the heat races, a special presentation was in order. The FOX crew, with the exception of Marty Reid, were doing the broadcast. For the last two seasons, former NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip has drove a vehicle around the Eldora Speedway.
In 2008, he got the honor of driving... a water truck. Last season, in honor of the military theme for the night, he got to drive a tracked vehicle named "Ripsaw."
This year, he got the biggest surprise of all.
As he made his way to the front stretch, a roar could be heard coming around the corner. He looked up; and here comes monster truck driver Bobby Holman bringing his 10,000-pound machine right up to D.W.
Yes, Waltrip was going to drive a monster truck. But, as a special surprise, the crew fitted the chassis with a Chevrolet Silverado body painted like the No. 17 Tide car that D.W. took to the Daytona 500.
After climbing inside, he fired the motor and did two laps around the track, almost afraid to hit the throttle. It's no wonder, the minute he hit the gas, the truck reared up like a wild horse.
After climbing back out, the former champion turned broadcaster let out sigh of relief, and began joking after getting back up to the booth.
"I wanted to climb out and do the Icky Shuffle, but my legs were shaking too bad."
After the festivities were over, the heat races got under way. The first two were relatively uneventful, as both Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman went on to easy victories in each.
It would be the third heat that provided the most excitement.
Veteran Prelude driver Kyle Busch and first-time driver Justin Allgaier had an intense battle. Allgaier held the high line, while Busch found some grip on the bottom.
But Allgaier made the mistake of trying to run low to cut the momentum of the No. 18. All Busch did was move to the high side and run full throttle to the lead. Busch would hold on to win the final heat.
In the pits, Heat One winner Kahne suddenly experienced issues as the motor in his No. 9 car went south. His team then unloaded a back-up car, which was going to be run at the track Saturday at the speedway for another event.
After all the preparation, all the practice, 27 drivers now had the chance to go racing, not for points or money, but for fun.
The Prelude to the Dream went full throttle with Jimmie Johnson and Busch on the front row. However, it wouldn't officially start as three immediate cautions held the field from completing one lap in the 30 lap feature.
The first came out when Travis Pastrana spun out on the backstretch, followed by Ricky Carmichael and Marcos Ambrose getting together and then Tony Kanaan and Bobby Labonte going for a spin.
After the race finally got one lap in, the battle between Johnson and Busch began to heat up. Busch used what he learned in the heat race and ran the bottom, as the track was dry and extremely slick.
By lap 10, Johnson had caught the tail end of the field, but when Ray Evernham spun in the second turn, the field began to gather up.
In what seemed to be a case of deja-vu, two quick cautions for Kenny Wallace and Ron Capps kept the field bundled up.
But on the restart, Johnson again got the jump. However, Busch was not going away easy and worked his way close to Johnson again and went for the pass.
When Kanaan wrecked for the second time on lap 15, Johnson held the top spot.
Two cautions with ten laps to go; one each for Allgaier's blown motor and Carmichael's second spin, kept the field bundled up.
As the laps wound down, the entire field began going hard, as the overall team victory was still up in the air. Cautions made up the final five laps as there were four that left the race to a green-white-checkered.
On the race's final restart, Busch throttled up and went low in the first turn. But he just could not make it stick. Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards both went for the low line to improve their respective positions.
All this was happening for the second spot.
Out front, Johnson kept firm control. After winning his first heat last year, Johnson led the entire 30-lap feature to win the sixth annual Prelude To The Dream.
Johnson wouldn't be the only one celebrating in victory lane, as he was joined by team captain Busch. Because of their 1-2 finish, and the combined total of the positions for each group, it was Team Levine winning the biggest portion of the donations from the event with 45 points.
Team St. Jude finished in second with 48 points, barely edging out Team Cincinnati who finished with 49. Team Riley finished a distant fourth with 71 points.
More than the points, the charities and the victory, the Prelude To The Dream was all about having fun.
Judging by the smile on each driver's face, this year's event was a complete success.
FASTEST QUALIFIER: Clint Bowyer, 16.07 seconds
RESULTS: 1-Johnson; 2-Bowyer; 3-Edwards; 4-Busch; 5-Hamlin; 6-Stewart; 7-Blaney; 8-Kahne; 9-Schrader; 10-Elliott
NOTABLE FINISHES: 13-Logano; 16-Newman; 19-Carmichael; 21-Reutimann; 22-Gordon; 23-Pastrana
HEAT WINNERS: 1-Kahne, 2-Newman, 3-Busch
FINAL TEAM SCORES: Team Levine 45; Team St. Jude 48; Team Cincinnati 49; Team Riley 71
*Dario Franchitti was invited to compete, however was unable to because of testing obligations.
*Robby Gordon was not at the event as originally promoted.