Bobby Labonte gets first SRX win in Round 4 at Nashville in nerve-wracking finish

Labonte SRX Nashville
Dylan Buell / Getty Images

Bobby Labonte survived two late-race restarts at Nashville Fairgrounds and a battle with his nerves to beat Marco Andretti and win his first Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) race in his ninth start. With the victory, he continues the streak of unique winners in 2022.

It wasn’t the first time Labonte was nervous in Nashville. More than 25 years ago, he won the 1996 Opryland 320 by a tenth of a second over David Green for his only Busch Series win of that season.

Reading just the box score, one might believe he had an easy go of the race, but that was not the case for Labonte.

“I just thought I wasn’t going to win,” Labonte told CBS Sports’ Matt Yocum. “This is so intimidating with these drivers. I’m telling you I get nervous. I thought I was going to puke with 10 to go.

“I see Matt Kenseth coming and I think I’ve seen this story before. I’m like, oh my god, here he comes. So, it’s just so hard. It’s not easy. Maybe I made it look a little easy tonight, but it wasn’t easy.”

Choosing the bottom line with restarts at 17 and 10 laps to go, Labonte’s experience in stock cars insured he would not be run up the track, but that did not make him immune to contact. On the penultimate restart, he was doored by Andretti as the two battled for position on the front stretch. He learned his lesson and refused to allow the field to get close on the final restart – shooting to the lead the moment the green flag was displayed.

As hard as he raced for the lead, Andretti was content with a good points day and his fifth top-five in the last six SRX events.

“[Labonte] shot out of a cannon right at the start of the feature, so I knew he was a force to be reckoned with there,” Andretti said. “I think the fastest car won, for sure. I was one step of rear grip away getting in and coming off. If I could have gotten the power off a little bit better, I think I would have gotten closer at the end.

“Those Cup guys know just how far to pull away at the end so you can’t get to their back bumper.”

In his SRX Series debut, Kenseth rounded out the podium in third.

“I felt like I really flopped around in my heat races,” Kenseth said, with his wife and children standing behind him on pit road. “My car got real loose. I burned the rear tires up. I felt like I didn’t have any clue what I was doing. In the feature, the car was better when I put tires on and fixed the stagger and everything, but I just puttered around for 50 laps.

“I was trying to figure out how much time I needed to get to the front. I quick-passed two or three of them and then I thought I was good and we got a couple of cautions with outside restarts and we kind of got mixed up, so I ran out of time.”

Paul Tracy swept the top five with a fourth in Heat 1, fifth in Heat 2 and his fourth-place finish in the Main.

Helio Castroneves rounded out the top five.

It was a bad night for both of the heat winners.

Also making his debut, Newgarden, a Henderson, Tenn. native, led flag-to-flag in Heat 1 and pulled away from the field. He was running fifth in the Main on Lap 49 of 75 when he looped his car and crashed.

Hometown hero Cole Williams won Heat 2 after finishing last in the first race, but he couldn’t quite find the speed needed in the feature and finished 12th in the 13-car field.

Feature: 1. Bobby Labonte, 2. Marco Andretti, 3. Matt Kenseth, 4. Paul Tracy, 5. Helio Castroneves, 6. Ryan Newman, 7. Michael Waltrip, 8. Josef Newgarden, 9. Greg Biffle, 10. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 11. Tony Stewart, 12. Cole Williams, 13. Tony Kanaan

Heat 1: 1 Josef Newgarden, 2. Helio Castroneves, 3. Bobby Labonte, 4. Paul Tracy, 5. Marco Andretti, 6. Tony Stewart, 7. Ryan Newman, 8. Matt Kenseth, 9. Michael Waltrip, 10. Greg Biffle, 11. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 12. Tony Kanaan, 13. Cole Williams

Heat 2: 1. Cole Williams, 2. Marco Andretti, 3. Greg Biffle, 4. Bobby Labonte, 5. Paul Tracy, 6. Ryan Newman, 7. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 8. Tony Kanaan, 9. Helio Castroneves, 10. Josef Newgarden, 11. Matt Kenseth, 12. Michael Waltrip, 13. Tony Stewart

Round 1: Helio Castroneves wins at Five Flags, hopes for NASCAR start
Round 2: Tony Stewart earns third SRX victory and first on a paved track
Round 3: Ryan Newman wins at Stafford as his daughters look on

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws

The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)