Kyle Busch wins the fourth scheduled SRX race of the season at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway, his second in as many starts.
Because Busch isn’t racing the full schedule, he isn’t eligible to take the season crown.
Paul Tracy, having been suspended for the remainder of the season for a crash he caused in the SRX race at Pulaski County Motorsports Park last week.
Kyle Busch isn’t eligible for the Superstar Racing Experience championship, but with the way he’s driven the last two races, maybe the ESPN-backed “Thursday Night Thunder” series may have to make an exception.
Busch dominated again for the second consecutive SRX race in as many starts on Thursday night at Berlin Raceway, just outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, adding to his triumph last week at Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia.
The Las Vegas native isn’t eligible for the SRX title because he would have had to start in all six of this season’s SRX races.
Thursday’s win was his second and final appearance in an SRX event this season—which is leaving those seven drivers who are still eligible to win the series’ championship a chance to catch their breath, knowing they won’t have to face Busch again in the schedule’s two remaining races.
“Just being here before, knowing what to expect, all that sort of stuff,” Busch said after taking the checkered flag at a track he’s appeared several times in other events, including prior Late Model races.
“I thought about restarting in fourth (in the final restart of the race, late in the event) and I thought, ‘Don’t just change it up now, just stick with what I was doing.’”
Busch made a two-race appearance in SRX competition—his first time ever competing in the series—and he wound up winning both times. He becomes only the second driver in SRX history to win back-to-back races (Tony Stewart won two consecutive races en route to winning the championship in the inaugural 2021 season).
“Yeah, this is my two-for-two,” said Busch, whose car was sponsored in both races by the NHL’s Florida Panthers. “I’d love to come back. I’m out for the year, but the rest of these guys can put on a show for you.”
The fourth race of the six-race schedule—in as many weeks—marked the final event of the season on paved tracks. The final two SRX races will be held on dirt tracks: the Tony Stewart-owned Eldora Speedway in Ohio next Thursday (August 10) and the season finale on August 17 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri.
Another Rainy Night
Rain was a slight impediment in Thursday’s sold-out event, with more than 8000 fans in the stands. The first heat race—a 30-lap event (which was increased from the typical 20-lap heat races seen in previous SRX races)—finished slightly wet after the clouds opened in the final lap.
Because rain prevented cars from returning to the track for about 20 minutes, the second heat race was slightly shortened to 25 laps instead of 30.
And then the main event, which was scheduled for 100 laps, reached its full completion – even though it ran about 10 minutes long and into ESPN’s 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter telecast.
Here’s how the two heat races and the main event finished up:
Heat 1: Brad Keselowski (second SRX heat win this season), Kyle Busch, Johnny Benson Jr., Ryan Newman, Helio Castroneves, Kevin Harvick, Marco Andretti, Hailie Deegan, Bobby Labonte, Ken Schrader, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart
Heat 2: Newman (second SRX heat race win this season), Schrader, Deegan, Harvick, Labonte, Keselowski, Castroneves, Busch, Andretti, Benson Jr., Kahne and Stewart.
Main Event Final Results
Johnny Benson Jr.
Thursday marked the first SRX race this season that didn’t include Paul Tracy, who was suspended for the remainder of the season following last week’s major crash involving several drivers including Tracy, Schrader, Josef Newgarden, Deegan, and others.
Johnny Benson Jr. took Tracy’s spot in Thursday’s race at a track he has a long and legendary history at (he’s a Michigan native), and it’s expected Benson, driving his legendary No. 10, will also race in place of Tracy in the final two races of the season at Eldora and Wheatland.
Homecoming Heat Win
Keselowski’s win in Heat Race No. 1 marks his second SRX heat race win this season. But as for as his day job, competing as a team owner/driver in NASCAR Cup, Keselowski has not had a win in over two years (last win was Spring 2021 at Talladega).
Ironically enough, even though he’s a Michigan native, Keselowski rarely competed at Berlin Raceway in the early part of his career before he eventually climbed to the NASCAR Cup Series.
It was announced shortly after Thursday night’s race that yet another NASCAR Cup driver, Chase Briscoe, will make his SRX debut in next Thursday’s race at Eldora Speedway. Also in the field that night will be three-time NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps.
Kyle Busch drove away over the course of three restarts ahead of Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman. Keselowski led the most laps after starting second but ultimately felt like he used up his front tires in trying to battle Helio Castroneves for the top spot.
Castroneves led early but faded to eighth having used up his tires trying to keep Keselowski behind him. Busch methodically ran consistent, low intensity laps, and had the most grip available approaching the final laps.
Three competition cautions waved over the final 30 laps, but Busch simply fired off and drove away each time to win in Camping World SRX competition on back-to-back weeks.
Marco Andretti finished sixth after starting 10th but spent most of the race riding nearly a full lap behind the leaders with the goal of tire conservation. It nearly worked as the defending champion drove up to fourth over the final three green flag stints.
Local legend Johnny Benson finished 12th having battled a mechanical issue over the course of the entire night.
The next race will be held at Eldora Speedway, Thursday, August 10, 2023, with television coverage at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN. The field will include SRX full-time drivers Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Ken Schrader, Marco Andretti, Hailie Deegan, Bobby Labonte and part-time drivers Ron Capps, Matt Kenseth, Tony Kanaan, and Chase Briscoe.
Point Standings after Race 4 of 6
Ryan Newman, 146
Brad Keselowski, 113 (-33)
Marco Andretti, 112 (-34)
Tony Stewart, 95 (-51)
Ken Schrader, 92 (-53)
Hailie Deegan, 91 (-54)
Ken Schrader, 91 (-54)
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