Somebody must have forgotten to communicate to Mother Nature that the return of ‘Thursday Night Thunder’ to ESPN, didn’t mean an enormous thunderstorm had to make itself present at the racetrack on Thursday night.
Alas, continuing a trend that has seemingly followed NASCAR’s top-three series around all season long, Denny Hamlin scored the victory in a rain-shortened Camping World SRX Series season-opener at Stafford Speedway.
The NASCAR Cup Series driver, making his debut in the Camping World SRX Series at Stafford Speedway, was able to make a pass for the lead on reigning series champion Marco Andretti around the halfway point of what ended up being a 58-lap feature.
After the race, Hamlin took to social media, saying: “1-for-1. Think I’ll retire. Thanks, SRX and Stafford Speedway,” with a picture of him holding a trophy, and another of him holding the checkered flag.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) July 14, 2023
From that point forward, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx-sponsored entry didn’t look back, holding a consistent lead over Clint Bowyer for the majority of the race’s back half. That was before Ryan Newman, driving a backup car, made his way into second after a restart.
The battle between the two NASCAR Cup Series competitors was set to rage on for the race’s remaining laps, until the weather started moving into the area at an alarming rate, with lightning flashing in the distance in the race’s closing laps.
Before that intriguing battle for the lead was unable to unfold, though, the Camping World SRX Series was forced to throw the caution, and subsequently end the event, as potentially severe thunderstorms were ready to move through Stafford Springs, Connecticut.
Newman would be credited with a second-place run in the season-opening event for the six-race series, placing himself at the top of the point standings, thanks to heat race finishes of ninth and first.
Clint Bowyer would fall to third-place in the closing stages of the main event, while Paul Tracy and Hailie Deegan rounded out the top-five finishers. Marco Andretti, Ken Schrader, Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski, and Tony Kanaan completed the top-10.
Tony Stewart (#14) and Kevin Harvick (#4) both failed to finish the season-opening event at Stafford Speedway. Stewart’s issues came as a result of fuel pressure issue in the middle of the event, while Harvick was collected in an accident.
The accident, which happened on the fifth lap of Thursday’s feature race, started when Brad Keselowski got turned sideways by Ryan Newman, collecting at least half of the field in the aftermath and jacking the No. 4 up.
After the first of six events on the season, Ryan Newman holds a one-point lead over Paul Tracy in the Camping World SRX Series point standings. Marco Andretti, Bobby Labonte, and Hailie Deegan complete the top-five in points.
Up next for the Camping World SRX Series is another trip to Stafford Speedway, after a last-minute decision to pivot the event from Thunder Road Speedway to the facility, due to the floods in Vermont.
Race Results – Camping World SRX Series at Stafford:
Point Standings – Camping World SRX Series (After Race 1 of 6):