Tony Kanaan, Greg Biffle interested in Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham series

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Less than a day after the series’ official announcement Monday, the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) being started by NASCAR Hall of Famers Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart already had some job applicants.

And with resumes that include IndyCar and NASCAR championships, these are qualified candidates.

Tony Kanaan, who is racing part time in the NTT Series this year in what likely could be his final season in IndyCar, volunteered himself Tuesday for the six-race short-track circuit that is expected to make its debut next year (but has yet to announce a schedule or confirm any of its drivers beyond Stewart).

It might be getting close, though, with Kanaan, who was boarding a flight Tuesday to return from a Chevrolet simulator test in Charlotte when his phone rang.

“‘Hey, T.K. it’s Ray Evernham, what is your suit size?” Kanaan said, laughing as he recalled the phone call during an IndyCar Zoom media availability Wednesday to promote races Friday and Saturday at Iowa Speedway. “I truly mean it as I have nothing planned for next year yet. If they make it happen, I’ll be there.”

Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, was among several drivers on Evernham’s “dream list,” according to the Associated Press. Scott Dixon, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Paul Tracy also were mentioned.

Though he wasn’t named, Greg Biffle also would be welcomed. The 19-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series and champion of the Xfinity (2002) and truck series (2000) also expressed an interest.

Stewart and Evernham have compared the Superstar Racing Experience with the International Race of Champions. For 30 years, that circuit matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared in four races annually. The SRX field of a dozen drivers would mirror IROC, which Stewart said “left a big hole” after its 2006 demise.

Sebastien Bourdais, who now drives full time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, raced the 2005 IROC season (and won at Texas Motor Speedway) during his run of four Champ Car titles. The IndyCar veteran said he also would be interested in SRX.

“I had the great pleasure and honor to race in one of the last seasons of IROC, and I had a great time,” Bourdais said Tuesday during a media availability ahead of IMSA’s Saturday race at Sebring International Raceway. “It’s always very enriching to race different kinds of stuff, different cars and different circuits and types of racing. Definitely be interested to (race SRX) if I was invited .”

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.