Tony Stewart wins second SRX race at Eldora Speedway as tempers flare

SRX Eldora results
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Tony Stewart drove from the back and fended off a challenge from local hero Kody Swanson to score his second win in the Camping World SRX Series Saturday night at Eldora Speedway.

The SRX series was created by Stewart and Ray Evernham to provide a platform for drivers from multiple disciplines to race in identically-prepared cars. It is patterned after the defunct International Race of Champions. In addition to being part owner of the series, Stewart also owns Eldora Speedway, making him the fan favorite each time he runs there.

Along with 10 fulltime drivers, a ringer who runs in only select events and a local hero are added to the lineup each week to make up the 12-car field. This week the local hero was Kody Swanson, who is the winningest driver in the USAC Silver Crown series with 31 victories and five championships.

The inaugural race at Stafford Speedway was won by that track’s local hero Doug Coby. Stewart won the second race at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway, one of two dirt tracks on the six-race schedule, by holding off a charge by Hailie Deegan, who was subbing for Tony Kanaan.

So the closing laps, came down to which storyline would repeat: the local hero besting the regulars, or Stewart proving his prowess on dirt after starting shotgun on the field after accidentally hitting the kill switch on the pace lap.

“Kody found the bottom,” Stewart said. “I couldn’t roll the bottom as good as he could. I was real dependent on being up top. I just think that’s what Eldora does. The complexion of the track changes in the race.”

The final seven laps featured a battle between Stewart and Swanson, after Stewart took the lead for the first time on Lap 44. Swanson, who was forced to race a backup car in the main event after a Heat 2 accident, wrestled the lead back on Lap 46, and the two ran side-by-side through the corners in the final laps. The top prevailed as Swanson never got far enough ahead of Stewart to complete a slide job.

“I appreciate them letting me have a chance in the backup car,” Swanson said. “I hate to tear up their equipment, and I hate to lose, gosh darn it. I felt like we were really good in the middle of the race, and the bottom just gave up a little bit, and the top of 1 and 2 got working. Once Tony got track position, it was hard to get back by him.”

Helio Castroneves (third) and Marco Andretti (fourth) followed across the line.

But it was fifth-place finisher Paul Tracy who created the most excitement. During the race, several drivers good-naturedly remarked on his level of aggression. By the time the checkered flag waved, much of that goodwill disappeared.

A Lap 45 incident eliminated Bobby Labonte from the race after Tracy spun him while racing for third.

“I know I’m going to have some Bobby Labonte fans after me because he’s super pissed at me and rightly so,” Tracy said. “He got by me on the restart, and I was running up top and decided I was going to cut to the bottom like Tony (Stewart) did, and I got it all wrong. He turned in a little earlier than I thought he would, and I tagged him and that was it. So that was my bad, and I went over to apologize to him and he was having none of it.”

Bill Elliott was collected in that wreck and also retired for the third consecutive race.

Willy T. Ribbs made it known that Labonte wasn’t the only driver upset with Tracy.

“There was some banging,” Ribbs said. “Tracy, oh, it’s on baby. You got 11 guys who want you.”

The SRX Series is striving to show a unique personality and has featured some trash-talking among the drivers.

The reason Swanson was forced into a backup car was the result of a Lap 3 accident in Heat 2 when Ernie Francis, Jr. spun Michael Waltrip.

“I reacted OK, but yellow guy, when he’s around you, you gotta know he’s gonna run into people,” Michael Waltrip told CBS reporter Matt Yocum after the incident. “He does it every race. … Yellow guy is Ernie. He runs into me a lot. People, not just me.”

Waltrip was actually collateral damage in an incident involving Francis and Tony Kanaan, who was making his debut on dirt.

“Not sure what happened,” Francis told Brad Daugherty. “I came off Turn 4, me and Kanaan got together and couldn’t get unlocked. He spun around on my front end and we were just along for the ride. I think Waltrip just slid in there and got piled up with the rest of us. I don’t think I took him out at all. He’s getting a little bit old and maybe didn’t see so well.”

Another innovation was a midrace interview with Stewart during green flag conditions.

While being interviewed, Stewart called his pass on Andretti, much like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence before hitting a home run.

With half of the schedule in the books, the series head back to asphalt for Lucas Oil Raceway (July 3), Slinger (Wis.) Speedway (July 10) and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway (July 17).


Heat Race No. 1 (15 minutes, 24 laps, starting lineup determined by random draw): 1. Tony Stewart (4; led laps 13-17, 19-21, 23-24), 2. Helio Castroneves (3; led laps 18, 22), 3. Paul Tracy (9), 4. Marco Andretti (8), 5. Bobby Labonte (7), 6. Kody Swanson (2nd), 7. Ernie Francis Jr. (10), 8. Bill Elliott (6;), 9. Michael Waltrip (11), 10. Scott Speed (12), 11. Tony Kanaan (1st; led laps 1-12), 12. Willy T. Ribbs (5).

Heat Race No. 2 (15 minutes, 11 laps, starting order was invert of Heat 1 finish): 1. Marco Andretti (9; led laps 4-11), 2. Paul Tracy (10th), 3. Tony Stewart (12), 4. Scott Speed (3), 5. Bobby Labonte (8), 6. Helio Castroneves (11), 7. Bill Elliott (5), 8. Tony Kanaan (2), 9. Willy T. Ribbs (1; led laps 1-3), 10. Ernie Francis Jr. (6th), 11. Michael Waltrip (4), 12. Kody Swanson (7)

Feature (50 laps; starting lineup was based on finishing position in Heat Race No. 2): 1. Tony Stewart (1, but went to back after pace laps; led laps 44-45, 47-50) 50, 2. Kody Swanson (9; led laps 26-33, 34-35, 46) 50, 3. Helio Castroneves (4) 50, 4. Marco Andretti (3) 50, 5. Paul Tracy (2; led laps 1-25, 34-35) 50, 6. Scott Speed (6) 50, 7. Tony Kanaan (10) 50, 8. Ernie Francis, Jr. (8) 50, 9. Willy T. Ribbs (12) 50, 10. Michael Waltrip (11) 50, 11. Bobby Labonte (5) 45, 12. Bill Elliott (7) 45

Points Standings: 1. Tony Stewart (129), 2. Helio Castroneves (96), 3. Ernie Francis, Jr. (90) 4. Tony Kanaan (85)*, 5. Marco Andretti (80), 6. Bobby Labonte (75), 7. Paul Tracy (64), 8. Michael Waltrip (57), 9. Bill Elliott (46), 10. Willy T. Ribbs (38).

* Hailie Deegan earned points for Kanaan at Knoxville

Josef Newgarden claims first Indy 500 victory, outdueling Marcus Ericsson in 1-lap shootout


INDIANAPOLIS — Josef Newgarden won the 107th Indy 500 with a last-lap pass of Marcus Ericsson, giving team owner Roger Penske his 19th victory in the race but his first as the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In a one-lap shootout after the third red flag in the final 20 laps, Newgarden grabbed the lead from Ericsson on the backstretch and then weaved his way to the checkered flag (mimicking the same moves Ericsson had made to win at the Brickyard last year). Santino Ferrucci finished third for AJ Foyt Racing, maintaining his streak of finishing in the top 10 in all five of his Indianapolis 500 starts.

“I’m just so thankful to be here,” Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “You have no idea. I started out as a fan in the crowd. And this place, it’s amazing.

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“Regardless of where you’re sitting. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving the car, you’re working on it or you’re out here in the crowd. You’re a part of this event and the energy. So thank you to Indianapolis. I love this city. I grew up racing karts here when I was a kid. I’m just so thankful for Roger and (team president) Tim (Cindric) and everybody at Team Penske.

“I just felt like everyone kept asking me why I haven’t won this race. They look at you like you’re a failure if you don’t win it, and I wanted to win it so bad. I knew we could. I knew we were capable. It’s a huge team effort. I’m so glad to be here.”

Newgarden became the first driver from Tennessee to win the Indy 500 and the first American to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing since Alexander Rossi in 2016.

“I think the last two laps I forgot about being a track owner and said let’s go for it,” Penske told Snider. “But what a great day. All these wonderful fans. To get No. 19 racing my guy Ganassi, my best friend in this business. But a terrific effort by Josef. Tim Cindric called a perfect race.

“Had a great race, safe race. I’ll never forget it. I know Josef wanted it so bad and wondered why he couldn’t be there, but today all day long, he worked his way up there, and at the end when it was time to go, I was betting on him.”

After Newgarden finally got his first Indy 500 victory on his 12th attempt the two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion climbed out of his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, squeezed through a hole in the catchfence and ran into the stands to celebrate with fans.

“I’ve always wanted to go into the crowd at Indianapolis,” Newgarden said. “I wanted to go through the fence. I wanted to celebrate with the people. I just thought it would be so cool because I know what that energy is like on race day. This was a dream of mine. If this was ever going to happen, I wanted to do that.”

After finishing 0.0974 seconds behind in second with his No. 8 Dallara-Honda, Ericsson was upset about how IndyCar officials handled the ending.

Though it’s not the first time a red flag has been used to guarantee a green-flag finish at the Indy 500, IndyCar races typically haven’t been restarted with only one lap remaining. The green flag was thrown as the field left the pits in an unusual maneuver that had echoes of Formula One’s controversial 2021 season finale.

“I just feel like it was unfair and a dangerous end to the race,” Ericsson told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I don’t think there was enough laps to do what we did. We’ve never done a restart out of the pits, and we don’t get the tires up to temperature.

“I think we did everything right today. I’m very proud of the No. 8 crew. I think I did everything right behind the wheel. I did an awesome last restart. I think I caught Josef completely off guard and got the gap and kept the lead. But I just couldn’t hold it on the (backstretch). I was flat but couldn’t hold it. I’m proud of us.

“Congratulations to Josef, he did everything right as well. He’s a worthy champion, I’m just very disappointed with the way that ended. I don’t think that was fair.”

There also were a lot of emotions for Ferrucci, who was tearing up as he exited his No. 14 Dallara-Chevy. In the past eight weeks, the team has weathered the deaths of A.J. Foyt’s wife and longtime publicist Anne Fornoro’s husband.

“It’s just tough,” Ferrucci told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “We were there all day. All day. I’m just so proud of our AJ Foyt Racing team. We had a few people riding on board with us. This one stings, it’s bittersweet. I’m happy for third and the team. I’m happy for Josef and all of Team Penske.

“I was trying not to tear up getting into the race car before we started the race. Different emotions. It was different. I think coming to the end, the last few restarts. I think IndyCar did the right decision with what they have done. a green-flag finish for the fans. Wish we had a couple more laps to finish that off.”

Pole-sitter Alex Palou rebounded to finish fourth after a collision in the pits near the midpoint. Alexander Rossi took fifth.

The race was stopped three times for 37 minutes for three crashes, including a terrifying wreck involving Felix Rosenqvist and Kyle Kirkwood that sent a tire over the Turn 2 catchfence.

It had been relatively clean with only two yellow flags until the final 50 miles.

After spending the first half of the race trading the lead, pole-sitter Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay (who started second) collided while exiting the pits under yellow on Lap 94.

Leaving the pits after leading 24 laps, VeeKay lost control under acceleration. He looped his No. 21 Dallara-Chevy into the No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Palou that already had left the first pit stall after completing its stop,

Palou, who had led 36 laps. stayed on the lead lap despite multiple stops to replace the front wing but restarted in 28th.

“What an absolute legend trying to win it,” Palou sarcastically radioed his team about VeeKay, who received a drive-through penalty for the contact when the race returned to green.

The incident happened after the first yellow flag on Lap 92 after Sting Ray Robb slapped the outside wall in Turn 1 after battling with Graham Rahal.

Robb put the blame on Rahal in an interview with NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch.

“I think I just need to pay more attention to the stereotypes of the series,” Robb said. “Pay attention to who I’m racing, and that was just way too aggressive of a move I thought. But yeah, I guess we’re in the wall and not much further to say.”

An already miserable May for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing continued before the race even started.

Rahal, who failed to qualify but started his 16th consecutive Indy 500 in place of the injured Stefan Wilson, was unable to start his No. 24 for Dreyer & Reinbold/Cusick Motorsports.

After two aborted attempts at firing the car’s Chevrolet engine, team members pushed Rahal behind the pit wall and swapped out a dead battery. Rahal finally joined the field on the third lap, but he wouldn’t finish last.

RLL teammate Katherine Legge, who had been involved in the Monday practice crash that fractured Wilson’s back, struggled with the handling on her No. 44 Dallara-Honda and nearly spun while exiting the pits after her first stop on Lap 35.

Legge exited her car about 30 laps later as her team began working to fix a steering problem.