One of the most talked-about features of the new Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) was the fact that local, grassroots short track racers would be going up against some of the biggest names in all of motorsports. Stafford Motor Speedway’s local hero, Doug Coby, showed the nation exactly what these short-track superstars can do – he dominated the evening, holding off the likes of Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart to score the win in the Camping World SRX Series’ inaugural event.
“What a special night for short track racing in America,” Coby said in Victory Lane. “This is a special night for Stafford Motor Speedway and everybody who’s a short track racer around the country, whether they’re on dirt or asphalt.
"That’s what short track racers do, we pour our heart and soul into this. […] A short tracker won it tonight, guys. Brian Brown, you’re up next buddy! Kody Swanson, Bobby Santos, gotta take it to them, got to keep this going!"
But as much as Coby wanted to celebrate in Victory Lane, he knew that Saturday night’s race was much bigger than what it seemed, especially to the grassroots racers.
“This is a big night for short track racing,” he said. “This isn’t about me as a driver winning this, it’s about us as short trackers putting on a show in front of a packed house on a live national television audience, and the short track guy pulled it off. There’s three other short track guys lined up, and they’re licking their chops knowing that it can be done.”
The format for SRX features two 15-minute heat races, followed by a 100-lap feature (150 laps at Slinger Speedway). In the first heat, former NASCAR Cup star Greg Biffle held off a hard challenge from 2000 NASCAR Cup Series Champion and 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Labonte to win the series’ first-ever heat race.
The field was fully inverted for the start of the second heat, and drivers and their crew chiefs were allowed to make minor changes to the cars between heats. Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip cruised out to a straightaway lead before a late caution bunched the field back up. Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Coby was able to get around him, and Coby got the win in Heat 2.
The main event, though, is where Coby really had his chance to shine. He started on pole courtesy of his win in Heat 2, and went on to lead 80 of the 100 laps. Greg Biffle, driving the white backup car after his regular gold No. 69 got caught in a wreck in Heat 2, never let Coby get comfortable at the front, keeping him within his sights and almost stealing the lead from Coby on a couple of late restarts.
In the end, though, Coby overwhelmed the field, relegating Biffle to second place. Series co-creator, three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and 1997 IndyCar champion Tony Stewart charged his way to third.
Helio Castroneves, who earned his history-making fourth Indianapolis 500 victory just two weeks prior, brought his red No. 3 home in fourth place, with Labonte’s teal No. 18 finishing fifth.
The next race for SRX is Saturday, June 19, as the series rolls into Knoxville Speedway in Iowa for its first race on dirt. Brian Brown, a four-time 410 Sprint Car champion at Knoxville, will sub in for Coby as the local short track hero. NASCAR Truck Series competitor Hailie Deegan will also make her SRX debut as she fills in for 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who will be at Road America for the IndyCar Series event. Fans will be able to watch both heats and the feature live on CBS, starting at 8pm ET.
-Story by Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo
SRX at Stafford Motor Speedway Results
- Doug Coby
- Greg Biffle
- Tony Stewart
- Helio Castroneves
- Bobby Labonte
- Ernie Francis, Jr.
- Tony Kanaan
- Willy T. Ribbs
- Paul Tracy
- Marco Andretti
- Michael Waltrip
- Bill Elliott