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SRX co-founder Tony Stewart wins inaugural dirt race at Knoxville

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Credit: Superstar Racing Experience

Tony Stewart, noted stock car and dirt track legend, can add winning in his own creation to his résumé after winning Saturday’s Camping World SRX Series race at Knoxville Raceway. The first dirt race for the young series, Stewart won a heat race before dominating the fifty-lap feature.

Heat races

SRX co-founder Stewart led much of the first heat while NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Hailie Deegan, who was making a cameo appearance a day after her main series’ race at Nashville in place of Tony Kanaan due to scheduling conflicts, moved into second. Paul Tracy hit the wall with five minutes remaining to produce a caution, and Stewart continued to lead to the heat win.

Michael Waltrip spun after contact with local track champion Brian Brown, resulting in him finishing last but starting first for Heat #2. Hélio Castroneves led much of the race before a caution came out as the race had run too many green-flag laps (yes, SRX has a mandated yellow flag whenever a race hits a certain number of consecutive laps under green). Tracy produced another caution when he spun with less than a minute remaining to set up a green-white-checker finish. Castroneves and Scott Bloomquist led the field to the restart, with the latter—one of the most decorated dirt racers of all time—winning out. In an odd twist, Castroneves fell back to seventh as he did not understand the concept of GWC conditions, causing him to assume the checkered flag waved in conjunction with the green; such a concept is not used in Castroneves’ IndyCar Series home, where races typically end under yellow in the event of a late caution.

Heat #1 results

FinishNumberDriverLaps
114Tony Stewart23
298Marco Andretti23
31Hailie Deegan23
42Ernie Francis Jr.23
513Paul Tracy23
69Bill Elliott23
721Brian Brown23
818Bobby Labonte23
93Hélio Castroneves23
1000Scott Bloomquist23
1117Willy T. Ribbs23
1215Michael Waltrip23

Heat #2 results

FinishNumberDriverLaps
100Scott Bloomquist22
22Ernie Francis Jr.22
315Michael Waltrip22
414Tony Stewart22
51Hailie Deegan22
69Bill Elliott22
73Hélio Castroneves22
821Brian Brown22
918Bobby Labonte22
1098Marco Andretti22
1117Willy T. Ribbs22
1213Paul Tracy22

Feature

Stewart and Ernie Francis Jr. occupied the front row to begin the Feature. After the previous week’s season opener saw the Feature starting lineup set by Heat #2 results, SRX tweaked the format to have the Feature’s grid established by average finish between the two heats.

After a debris caution on lap four, Bloomquist moved up to second on the ensuing restart while Bill Elliott fell off the pace. Brown and Willy T. Ribbs brought out cautions of their own due to spins.

Waltrip took the lead from Stewart on lap 12, only for Stewart to reclaim the position ten laps later. Bloomquist was clipped by Castroneves to produce a caution on lap 33, during which Elliott retired with fuel pressure issues that had also ended his season opener.

As Stewart continued to lead, Waltrip was passed by Francis and Deegan. The two tried to give chase but could not catch Stewart.

“I thought, ‘If Michael Waltrip beats me, I’m going to have to go to therapy.’,” quipped Stewart in Victory Lane.

The series will remain on dirt for next week’s race at Eldora Speedway, a track owned by Stewart.

Feature results

FinishNumberDriverLaps
114Tony Stewart50
21Hailie Deegan50
32Ernie Francis Jr.50
43Hélio Castroneves50
515Michael Waltrip50
618Bobby Labonte50
798Marco Andretti50
821Brian Brown50
900Scott Bloomquist50
1017Willy T. Ribbs50
119Bill Elliott38
1213Paul Tracy4
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History major and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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