For the fourth time in five dirt races for the Camping World SRX Series, Tony Stewart went to victory lane.
On Thursday night, Stewart took the win at the track he owns, Eldora Speedway, in the 75-lap feature race for the SRX superstars. It was a sweep of the night for the 2021 series champion, as he also won both heat races leading into the feature event. The first-ever heat race sweep gave Stewart the luxury of starting on the pole for the feature, and he would not relinquish the top spot.
While it was a dominant showing from the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, he was feeling the pressure on late restarts from a hard-charging Hailie Deegan.
“That’s the one thing people don’t realize. Hailie Deegan is one hell of a dirt driver," said Stewart. "She gets to second there, she is going to put pressure on. I just had to try to get clean laps on the restart, get in a rhythm and get going.”
After a relatively clean race at Berlin Raceway one week ago, there was a little more carnage on the dirt at the Ohio half-mile. Fortunately for the crews preparing the SRX machines, they'll get some time to rest up after getting everything in working order for next week's finale at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri.
“Our guys got a little spoiled last week not having to fix much stuff," said Stewart. "They’ve got a tough grind this week to get ready to go to Missouri. We’re super fortunate to go to Forrest Lucas’ personal playground, so we’re going to have a good time there next week.”
For Deegan, it was a dramatic evening starting with the first heat race, when she was involved in a multi-car incident stemming from a radiator issue for Austin Dillon. Deegan and Marco Andretti, full-time competitors in the Camping World SRX Series, finished the night in backup cars, while Dillon and Tony Kanaan were unfortunately sidelined for the remainder of the evening.
“It was a little uncomfortable there," said Deegan of the backup car. "My left leg is definitely numb right now. Usually, you’ve got a board on the bottom to rest your feet on. That was non-existent. My legs were floating the whole time trying to control the pedals and it was just so much going on.”
As uncomfortable as it may have been, Deegan and the backup car worked their way through the field for a runner-up finish, matching the 2021 Knoxville race for Deegan's best finish in the series.
“I don’t know what’s happened the last couple of weeks or what’s changed. I’ve been lacking a little confidence the last couple of months. I feel like these last two or three races, it’s starting to come back. I’m starting to get those finishes, starting to get more speed. I’ve been working really, really hard the last couple of weeks, and it’s starting to pay off.”
Ryan Newman finished third, further extending his points lead. Finishes of sixth and ninth for Marco Andretti and Brad Keselowski, respectively, eliminated them from championship contention, leaving just Newman and Stewart (39 points back) to fight for the championship next week at Lucas Oil Speedway.
-Photo credit: Will Bellamy/Racing America
Camping World SRX Racing Series Race Results
|1||1||14||Tony Stewart||Bass Pro Shops||75||Running||25|
|2||9||5||Hailie Deegan||HAAS (backup)||75||0.748||Running||22|
|3||4||39||Ryan Newman||South Point||75||1.681||Running||20|
|4||2||18||Bobby Labonte||Sport Clips||75||3.579||Running||18|
|5||3||8||Matt Kenseth||Fleetwood RV||75||4.158||Running||--|
|6||8||1||Marco Andretti||Camping World||75||4.476||Running||14|
|8||6||52||Ken Schrader||Federated Auto Parts||75||5.922||Running||10|
|9||7||6||Brad Keselowski||Camping World||75||24.065||Running||8|
|10||5||28||Ron Capps||NAPA Auto Parts||68||7 laps||Accident||--|
|11||10||33||Austin Dillon||Skip Barber Racing School||--||75 laps||DNS||--|
|12||12||66||Tony Kanaan||Purdue University||--||75 laps||DNS||--|
Heat Race 1 Results
|1||3||14||Tony Stewart||Bass Pro Shops||17||Running||12|
|2||2||18||Bobby Labonte||Sport Clips||17||3.733||Running||11|
|3||1||28||Ron Capps||NAPA Auto Parts||17||4.372||Running||--|
|4||5||52||Ken Schrader||Federated Auto Parts||17||5.616||Running||9|
|5||4||6||Brad Keselowski||Camping World||17||6.054||Running||8|
|6||6||39||Ryan Newman||South Point||17||6.693||Running||7|
|7||9||8||Matt Kenseth||Fleetwood RV||17||7.279||Running||--|
|8||10||33||Austin Dillon||Skip Barber Racing School||11||6 laps||Accident||--|
|9||7||5||Hailie Deegan||Good Sam||11||6 laps||Accident||4|
|10||12||57||Chase Briscoe||HighPoint.com||11||6 laps||Accident||--|
|11||11||66||Tony Kanaan||Purdue University||11||6 laps||Accident||--|
|12||8||1||Marco Andretti||Camping World||11||6 laps||Accident||1|
Heat Race 2 Results
|1||7||14||Tony Stewart||Bass Pro Shops||25||Running||12|
|2||1||8||Matt Kenseth||Fleetwood RV||25||1.595||Running||--|
|3||2||39||Ryan Newman||South Point||25||3.150||Running||10|
|4||8||1||Marco Andretti||Goodyear (backup)||25||3.486||Running||9|
|5||6||18||Bobby Labonte||Sport Clips||25||4.706||Running||8|
|6||5||28||Ron Capps||NAPA Auto Parts||25||6.736||Running||--|
|7||9||5||Hailie Deegan||HAAS (backup)||25||8.613||Running||6|
|8||4||52||Ken Schrader||Federated Auto Parts||25||15.057||Running||5|
|9||3||6||Brad Keselowski||Camping World||23||2 laps||Running||4|
|10||10||33||Austin Dillon||Skip Barber Racing School||--||25 laps||DNS||--|
|11||11||57||Chase Briscoe||HighPoint.com||--||25 laps||DNS||--|
|12||12||66||Tony Kanaan||Purdue University||--||25 laps||DNS||--|