On July 13 at Stafford Speedway, lightning put a halt to Ryan Newman’s late race march to hunt down Denny Hamlin in the opening event of the 2023 season for the Camping World Series SRX Series. Newman had to settle for a second place to Hamlin in the rain shortened season opener.
With an unexpected return to Stafford Thursday, and no storms to slow his roll, Newman once again had the fast car late, and this time had the laps to get the job done.
Newman passed Daniel Saurez on lap 74 of the 80-lap main event to win the second SRX Series event of the season.
“Kept my car straight, tried to be easy on the brakes and be good to my Goodyear Eagles,” Newman said. “I felt like I did an OK job. I feel like the other guys were pretty aggressive. That played to my favor. You never know how a race is going to unfold. Last week we got cut short by the rain. Tonight, it took us 74 of the 80 laps today to get the job done.
It was the second series win at Stafford for Newman, who won the 2022 event at the iconic paved half-mile.
“Stafford Speedway here, the Arute family, they put on a great show and they keep the fans happy,” Newman said. “And the race track is fun to drive. It’s good racing. That’s what it’s supposed to be all about. Not holding a car wide open to see who has the fastest race car. I’m glad to be a part of it and even happier to be in victory lane.
“Just have to thank everyone that is involved. Camping World for support the series. Bass Pro Shops and South Point Casinos for jumping on the board with not just me but with the whole program. There are so many people that are a part of it. It’s just fun. It’s high profile short track racing. Everybody that loves racing has some kind of love for short track racing.”
Suarez, making his series debut and first visit to Stafford, was second. Reigning series champion Marco Andretti was third.
The SRX Series was originally slated to have its second event at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT, but catastrophic flooding last week force a return to Stafford Thursday.
Former Stafford Speedway regular Ryan Preece started on the pole. On lap four Suarez got by Preece for the lead in turn one, but Preece battled back to regain the top spot five laps later. Tony Kanaan got by Suarez for second place on a lap 33 restart. On lap 40 Preece and Kanaan had checked out from third place Suarez. By lap 43 Kanaan was stalking all over Preece’s bumper.
On lap 47 Preece slid sideways going into turn one and slapped the wall hard, allowing Kanaan to go the lead. Preece held second place for the next 10 laps but began fading after a lap 56 restart and eventually pulled off track at lap 65.
“I just went down into [turn] one and the brake pedal went to the floor,” Preece said of his contact with the wall. “From there I just kept pumping them and pumping them every lap and it just kind of took off. It didn’t really have much stopping power. It was fun, I had a blast there for a while. Obviously disappointed because we had a really good car.”
On lap 63 Newman went by Suarez for second. At that point Kanaan had built a 1.3 second lead. Newman cut the lead to a half second within four laps and was on Kanaan’s bumper when caution flew for a wreck involving Hallie Deegan and Paul Tracy in a battle for sixth place on lap 72
“He just turned down on me,” Deegan said of the contact that sent Tracy spinning into the wall. “I was on the bottom. I was under him. There’s two ways to go about it. Either you are there and if they want to turn down and bounce off you, so be it. You can’t do anything about that. There’s so many times when I’m the one checking up to let someone come back down. Paul races pretty hard so I don’t mind doing it. I didn’t really do anything to be honest, he turned down on me.”
On the ensuing restart Kanaan took the field to green but in turn one his car went straight to the wall with no brakes.
“I lost my brakes,” Kannan said. “I had them and all of the sudden we restarted and when I went into turn one, I think you guys can see how quick that was. And it was not pleasant having no brakes and heading straight into that wall. It was going to be a hell of a win. We battled with Tony [Stewart], Daniel [Suarez] and Ryan [Preece].”
With Kanaan limping around the track, Suarez got by Newman to take over the lead before caution flew on lap 73 for a Brad Keselowski wreck in turn one.
Newman and Saurez went side-by-side on the restart before Newman got by Suarez for the lead for good out of turn two on lap 74.
“In general he was better on the short runs every run, but he had used up a lot of his tires and brakes in my opinion,” Newman said of Suarez. “It was more a matter of how wide he made his race car. He got washed up a little bit there and I got underneath him and was able to make the move. My car cut better than I thought it was going to at the end of the race there.”
Said Suarez: “I don’t know where [Newman] was coming from, but he was very quick. That was a lot of fun. … I was very happy to be here. It was a good run, it was fun.”
Andretti said he learned a lesson last week at Stafford to save his brakes.
“I took care of myself this week,” Andretti said.”The brakes were going long, but they didn’t go today. I think it cost me a shot at winning last week, but it helped me got a podium today.”
Newman left the track with series points lead after two of six events, with Andretti second in the standings, 15 points off the top spot. Paul Tracy, who was 11th Thursday, is third in the standings, 23 points behind Newman.
Stewart won the first heat race and Keselowski won the second heat race.
Main Event Result
- Ryan Newman
- Daniel Suarez
- Marco Andretti
- Ken Schrader
- Greg Biffle
- Bobby Labonte
- Tony Stewart
- Hallie Deegan
- Kenny Wallace
- Brad Keselowski
- Paul Tracy
- Tony Kanaan
- Ryan Preece
- Photos: SRX at Eldora Speedway Thursday August 10, 2023 - August 11, 2023
- Photos: SRX at Berlin Raceway - August 4, 2023
- Photos: SRX at Motor Mile Speedway Thursday July 27, 2023 - July 28, 2023