Former NASCAR Star Ryan Newman Plays Nice, Wins SRX Race at Stafford

·4 min read
Photo credit: SRX
Photo credit: SRX
  • Former NASCAR star Ryan Newman passed IndyCar driver Marco Andretti with four laps to go in the 75-lap event and held on to take the checkered flag.

  • Newman joins Helio Castroneves and defending SRX champion Tony Stewart as winners in the first three races of the six-race season.

  • Newman leaves Stafford in the same position he arrived at the legendary short track: in the lead for the SRX driver points.

After last week’s near-donnybrook between several angry drivers at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, revenge seemed to be on the menu for Saturday night’s Superstar Racing Experience event at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut.

But unlike the near-fisticuffs as well as a half-dozen torn-up race cars that resulted at South Boston, the 12 drivers at Stafford were seemingly on their best behavior all night long.

Former NASCAR star Ryan Newman passed IndyCar driver Marco Andretti with four laps to go in the 75-lap event and held on to take the checkered flag, joining Helio Castroneves and defending SRX champion Tony Stewart as winners in the first three races of the six-race season.

“It’s just so special,” Newman told CBS Sports of both the win and that his two daughters, Brooklyn and Ashlyn, were on hand to cheer him on. “To have these two girls right here, nobody knows what that means to me.

Photo credit: SRX
Photo credit: SRX

“I got choked up the last couple laps, and then seeing the smiles on their faces kind of took the tears away. It’s so special driving with the best drivers in the world and to be victorious is extremely special.”

The final finishing order for Saturday’s event saw Newman win, followed by main event pole-sitter Andretti, Stewart, Bobby Labonte (who also won the second of two heat races earlier in the evening), Hailie Deegan, Ryan Hunter-Reay (won the first heat race), local track hero Matt Hirschman, NASCAR Cup team owner Justin Marks (filling in for Castroneves), Greg Biffle, Bill Elliott and Michael Waltrip.

A competition caution with 10 laps remaining helped set Newman up to overtake Andretti for the lead and the win.

“That restart on the inside was the first time I had it all night,” Newman told CBS. “I knew that was the place to be. I knew Marco was going to run Stewart up a little bit, so I was fortunate to get second on the restart and then work him (Andretti) for a few laps.

“I got a good dive in between (turns) 3 and 4 and I learned yesterday (during Friday’s practice) it’s easier to pass in 3 and 4 than 1 and 2. So that’s where I put my effort and we were able to pull it off.”

Andretti did the best he could to hold off Newman, including a bit of rubbing, but he eventually had to yield.

“He did the bump the same thing every single one of us would have done to try and win the race,” Andretti said of Newman to CBS. “I’m just learning so much from these Cup guys. They’re just too good in these types of cars.

“I’m slowly learning and slowly putting it together. If I can keep finishing where I’m at in the heats and it gives me good enough track position to run up front in these races, hopefully I can put one together before the end of the year and try to win the championship.”

Newman leaves Stafford in the same position he arrived at the legendary short track: in the lead for the SRX driver points.

Sure, Saturday saw some beating and banging, but it was essentially gentlemanly-like (or with Deegan, gentlewomanly-like). The only real issue of the night was when Waltrip clipped the rear of Tracy’s car, tearing off the left front fender and bumper of Waltrip’s car.

While there was some beating and banging, unlike South Boston, there were no off-track confrontations, no grabbing another driver by the scruff of his firesuit, and no retaliatory crashing into rivals.

Or maybe Stafford was merely the calm before the storm, as the season moves into its second half with race No. 4 Saturday, July 9, at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn.

The last two races of the season will be on dirt at Ken Schrader’s Federated Auto Parts Raceway in Missouri on July 16 and the likely championship-deciding event on July 23 at Dave Blaney’s Sharon Speedway in Ohio.

Finishing Position

  1. Ryan Newman

  2. Marco Andretti

  3. Paul Tracy

  4. Tony Stewart

  5. Bobby Labonte

  6. Hailie Deegan

  7. Ryan Hunter-Reay

  8. Matt Hirschman

  9. Justin Marks

  10. Greg Biffle

  11. Bill Elliott

  12. Michael Waltrip

Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski