Tony Stewart takes SRX Round 2 at South Boston for his third win as tempers flare

Stewart SRX South Boston
SRX Series, Facebook

Tony Stewart took the lead for the first time on a Lap 44 restart in Round 2 of the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) at South Boston, Virginia, then swapped the lead with Marco Andretti before he scored his third career win in this series and first on a paved track.

Last year’s champion and a co-owner of the series, Stewart is the only repeat SRX winner.

After high temperatures in Round 1 at Five Flags Speedway, the heat was under the drivers’ helmets at South Boston.

Fired up by an incident in Heat 2, Stewart was determined to do whatever was needed to win, but he was unable to drive away from the field.

Andretti retook the lead on Lap 6 and held off several bumps from Stewart during the next 10 laps. As they battled for the lead, Greg Biffle joined the fray. Battling for second, Andretti made hard contact with Biffle as he tried to complete an aggressive pass. Andretti fell to the back of the field with damage. He finished eighth.

Biffle remained in contact with Stewart for the remainder of the race but could not quite get to his back bumper and finished second.

Another pair of ex-NASCAR drivers, Bobby Labonte and Ryan Newman, took third and fourth, respectively. Last week’s winner Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five in the 12-car field.

“Seeing these fans cheering when we got the lead, that’s what kept the motivation going,” Stewart told CBS Sports’ Matt Yocum. “Not like I need much motivation. When you got fans at South Boston cheering like that every time you take the lead, I was not going to let them down.”

Stewart and Ernie Francis Jr. created fireworks in the second heat. Driving in heavy traffic, Francis chopped Stewart off and raised the ire of the eventual winner.

“They’ve pissed off Uncle Tony right now, so they are about to get a dose of it they don’t want,” Stewart said after Heat 2. “Trust me, I know every dirty trick and got it in my bag. When you’re following somebody and the guy’s on the outside and as soon as he gets clear, he just turns down across, that’s the dumbest (crap) you can do. … I’m done playing nice with everybody.”

After the heat, Stewart confronted Francis and shook him by the collar of his firesuit.

“I’m not going to take that from him,” Francis said. “I know he’s the boss, but rubbing is racing out there. He got up on my inside, I didn’t see him there. I was two-wide with Andretti and someone else. I turned down; didn’t see his car until the last second.”

How much of that was for the camera? Stewart and Francis later were seen smiling and joking before the feature began.

Before the season began, Paul Tracy vowed to have a kindler, gentler image. That went out the window quickly as his resolve was put to the test with too much contact at Five Flags Speedway last week. His opinion of the racing action will not have changed after he was dumped by Castroneves as they battled for the lead in Heat 2.

“The way I see it, it was a racing incident,” Castroneves said. “People start owing each other a little more, understanding what they can and cannot do. I was having such a hard time trying to go to the outside. People kept squeezing me into the wall.”

During the feature, Michael Waltrip and Ryan-Hunter Reay were involved in a wreck that destroyed Waltrip’s car.


Heat Race No. 1: 1. Greg Biffle, 2. Tony Stewart, 3. Marco Andretti, 4. Bobby Labonte, 5. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 6. Peyton Sellers, 7. Ryan Newman, 8. Ernie Francis Jr., 9. Tony Kanaan, 10. Michael Waltrip, 11. Helio Castroneves, 12. Paul Tracy

Heat Race No. 2: 1. Helio Castroneves, 2. Marco Andretti, 3. Ryan Newman, 4. Tony Kanaan, 5. Bobby Labonte, 6. Tony Stewart, 7. Michael Waltrip, 8. Greg Biffle, 9. Ernie Francis Jr., 10. Peyton Sellers, 11. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 12. Paul Tracy

Feature: 1. Tony Stewart, 2. Greg Biffle, 3. Bobby Labonte, 4. Ryan Newman, 5. Helio Castroneves, 6. Tony Kanaan, 7. Ernie Francis Jr., 8. Marco Andretti, 9. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 10. Peyton Sellers, 11. Michael Waltrip (DNF), 12. Paul Tracy (DNF)

Round 1: Helio Castroneves wins at Five Flags, hopes for NASCAR start

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.