Entering Saturday Night, you probably wouldn’t have been that surprised to read the headline of this story ‘Tony Stewart Claims SRX Victory at Knoxville Raceway’. Though, let’s not get it twisted, Stewart taking the victory tonight at Knoxville wasn’t exactly easy, as he had some pretty stout competition from a varitey of different sources, some which many would find to be a surprise.
In her first of two Camping World SRX Series races, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Hailie Deegan proved to be one of the biggest thorns in the side of the three-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion, as she was able to stay with Stewart throughout both of the heat races, while also running inside the top-five for the majority of the feature event. However, Deegan was unable to close the gap to the leader, after making a late-race pass for second.
While the 19-year-old’s prior experience on the dirt may have offered an advantage, her ability to get up to speed in a brand-new car, on a brand-new track was quite impressive and fairly noteworthy. Look for Deegan to record a solid finish when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to the facility next month, where she’ll have dirt legend Donny Schatz as a teammate in the David Gilliland Racing stable.
Quite possibly more impressive than Deegan’s runner-up result, would be the finish by 23-year-old road racer, Ernie Francis Jr, who brought his Camping World sponsored entry home on the podium in third-place, despite having only one start on a dirt track of any kind, before getting behind the wheel of an SRX machine at Knoxville Raceway.
Francis scored top-five finishes in each of the heat races, allowing him to start on the front row for the 50-lap feature, where he planted himself inside the top-five throughout the entire event. The road racing champion was able to pounce on a late-race restart to move himself to second, before getting passed by Hailie Deegan coming to the white flag.
Helio Castroneves’ battered Good Sam machine finished in the fourth position, with Michael Waltrip’s No. 15 Progressive entry rounding out the top-five. Yet, the fifth-place result isn’t exaclty indicative of Waltrip’s run, after the two-time Daytona 500 Champion was able to wrestle the lead away from Tony Stewart for a period of time in the event and was able to battle for the lead until a late-race restart shuffled him to the back-end of the top-five.
Bobby Labonte finished sixth-place, with Marco Andretti, Brian Brown, Scott Bloomquist and Willy T. Ribbs rounding out the top-10. Both Paul Tracy and Bill Elliott were relegated to finishes outside the top-10 after various issues with their machines caused their early retirement.
As the series continues to roll forward into their six-race schedule, the superstars of the Camping World SRX Series will head to the famed Eldora Speedway. Tony Stewart – owner of Eldora Speedway and co-owner of the series — leads the points by 11 markers over Ernie Francis Jr, with Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte and Michael Waltrip rounding out the top-five in points.
SRX Round 2 (Knoxville Raceway) Results:
- No. 14 – Tony Stewart
- No. 1 – Hailie Deegan
- No. 2 – Ernie Francis Jr.
- No. 3 – Helio Castroneves
- No. 15 – Michael Waltrip
- No. 18 – Bobby Labonte
- No. 98 – Marco Andretti
- No. 21 – Brian Brown
- No. 00 – Scott Bloomquist
- No. 17 – Willy T Ribbs
- No. 9 – Bill Elliott
- No. 13 – Paul Tracy
Camping World SRX Series Point Standings (After 2 of 6 Races):
- No. 14 – Tony Stewart – 82pts
- No. 2 – Ernie Francis Jr. (-11)
- No. 3 – Helio Castroneves (-24)
- No. 18 – Bobby Labonte (-27)
- No. 15 – Michael Waltrip (-37)
- No. 10 – Doug Coby (-38)
- No. 98 – Marco Andretti (-41)
- No. 1 – Hailie Deegan (-42)
- No. 69 – Greg Biffle (-47)
- No. 9 – Bill Elliott (-49)
- No. 13 – Paul Tracy (-55)
- No. 48 – Tony Kanaan (-56)
- No. 17 – Willy T. Ribbs (-57)
- No. 00 – Scott Bloomquist (-59)
- No. 21 – Brian Brown (-61)
Camping World SRX Series Car Point Standings (After 2 of 6 Races):
- ORANGE – 82pts – TONY STEWART
- YELLOW – 71pts – ERNIE FRANCIS JR
- PINK – 66pts – HAILIE DEEGAN & TONY KANAAN
- PATRIOTIC CAMO – 65pts – DOUG COBY & BRIAN BROWN
- GOLD – 58pts – GREG BIFFLE & SCOTT BLOOMQUIST
- RED – 58pts – HELIO CASTRONEVES
- TEAL – 55pts – BOBBY LABONTE
- BLUE – 45pts – MICHAEL WALTRIP
- BLACK – 41pts – MARCO ANDRETTI
- PURPLE – 33pts – BILL ELLIOTT
- LIME GREEN – 27pts – PAUL TRACY
- NAVY BLUE – 25pts – WILLY T. RIBBS