Superstar Racing Experience
Tony Stewart Continues Dirt Dominance in SRX Win
Jul 17, 2022
Superstar Racing Experience wraps up its sequel season on Saturday night at Sharon Speedway in Ohio and they have arguably saved the best for last with a fantastic championship battle interspersed with the most dynamic roster of the summer.
In addition to the full-time Superstars, NASCAR Cup Series contenders Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney are entered, as is Cup Series veteran Dave Blaney, who also happens to owner of Sharon Speedway and its most recent winner in World of Outlaws competition.
It’s been a dramatic and thrilling summer of showcasing some of the most prestigious venues in short track racing, occasional bad blood between the drivers and four contenders within 15 points of each other entering the final race.
Oh, and we can’t forget Helio Castroneves literally winning the opener and punching his ticket into the Daytona 500 as a result.
That also means it’s time to start thinking about what next year could look like too. With all of that in mind here are the three things you need to know before the season finale at Sharon Speedway.
THE BLANEYS DEBUT
This will be the first time the Team Penske driver competes in a SRX race and it’s a special occasion considering it could be the last time he races with his dad, Dave. In addition to running Sharon Speedway, Blaney semi-regularly competes in 410 Sprint Car races these days and the younger Blaney isn’t permitted to race on dirt.
"I'm excited," Blaney said during his media availability over the weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "I can't wait to race with dad. ... He's probably going to wax me pretty good. It's just going to be cool to race with him.
"We've done it a couple of times before. We raced together years ago, and I don't know if I'll ever get another chance before he stops racing. I definitely couldn't pass on the opportunity."
It’s a similar dynamic to SRX race at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway last summer when Chase Elliott won against a field that included his dad, 1988 Cup Series champion Bill Elliott.
This will also be the first time the elder Blaney has been in a SRX car and series co-owner Tony Stewart is excited to have that family and their extensive legacy represented in his series.
"Very similar to the Andrettis," Stewart said. "To have that kind of history in that family's name in motorsports is unparalleled. It's pretty cool to be able to not only race against Dave again, but to get to race against Dave and Ryan at the same time is something that may or may not happen ever again."
THE CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE
Superstar Racing Experience has the perception that it’s all fun and games, but make no mistake, it matters to the veteran racers still in contention for this championship, and it’s building to an epic conclusion on Saturday night.
How did Marco Andretti, the IndyCar veteran, find himself on the verge of a championship in a de facto Late Model series on short tracks and on dirt? Well, after a rough start at Pensacola and South Boston, Andretti has finished second on each of the past three races at Stafford, Thompson and I-55, the first two tracks he also raced at last year with SRX.
"I don't want to finish second anymore, that’s my plan," Andretti said. "It definitely would be nice to go out in the best way: on top."
At the same time, he recognizes that his recent consistency is likely the key to a championship too.
"I actually want to go in with the mentality of extending the points lead and see what happens from there.
"But I’m here from being steady in the heat races like I have -- there’s points for the heat races, too -- and the last three podiums. I'm just trying to be consistent and try to obviously average out better than the others. Now I’ve got to do it for three races this weekend."
Newman has previously likened his pursuit of the SRX championship to coming up short in IROC when he participated in that series in the early 2000s.
"I wanted that one and I didn’t get it, and I really want to say I’m champion against this group of really stellar racers," Newman said.
Of course, Labonte feels the same way.
Still, the favorite has to be Stewart because he’s the defending champion but also because he’s undefeated on dirt through the first four SRX races on dirt over the past two summers, not that he’s counting his figurative eggs before they hatch.
"You look at the point standings and the top four drivers are within 15 points of each other," Stewart said. "That's literally only seven position, eight positions in the main event, let alone the heat race points. So it's a very, very tight point battle and much tighter than it was last year with more drivers in the hunt.
"I think it's been an exciting season and can't wait to finish it off this weekend."
WHAT ABOUT NEXT YEAR?
SRX CEO Don Hawk says his team will be relieved when the checkered flag falls on Saturday night because it’s been a hectic stretch in getting to this point, but he also said ideas are starting to percolate amongst the group over next year.
"We want to do the best we can this week and decide what it looks like moving forward," Hawk said. "We've started conversations with CBS about extending so we're really excited about that. It's full speed ahead this weekend and I think this team will be relieved, but we're also going to ask 'what next' and it's my job to figure out what's next."
Stewart is already compiling a list of stars he wants to race against next year because he views the roster as the most important element.
"The series is called Superstar Racing Experience—it's the first word and that is the most crucial part of it," Stewart said. "I mean, it's having people and drivers that race fans resonate with and have a history with seeing some of these guys. Some of us are at the end of our careers and some guys are not formally retired but are almost retired.
"The fans still want to see guys like us race. And then you have people like Hailie Deegan, you have these young guns at each track that we're getting the opportunity to race with. And then last week, the ringer was 67-year-old Kenny Schrader at his own race track.
"It just shows there's great race car drivers and to get to race with guys that you never had the opportunity to run with because they run different series. And to come race with older guys that you may have started with and then they retired and now race with younger drivers that are on their way up like Ernie Francis and Hailie Deegan and drivers like that, it’s really made the series very well-rounded and a lot of fun because it's not just a bunch of old guys out racing around."
And while the short tracks and dirt tracks have been rewarding and fun, Stewart also wants to see what this chassis is capable of on the type of track it was actually designed for.
The SRX car this season actually has the Fury Race Cars Model R chassis underneath its familiar shell and that car was actually designed as a track day road racing car.
"I really want to try to find a short road course that we could run these cars on at least one event," Stewart said. "I think that would really be a cool deal for us. It's definitely something that's on my wish list."