Welcome To Stafford Speedway: The second race of the 2023 Camping World SRX Series season is at Stafford Speedway in Stafford, Connecticut on Thursday July 20. Stafford also hosted the first event of the season on July 13, where a sellout crowd watched Denny Hamlin score victory in his first SRX Series appearance. The second event of the season was originally scheduled for Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont. A state of emergency in Vermont due to catastrophic flooding recently forced series officials to cancel the Thunder Road event and move the second event to Stafford. The half-mile Stafford Speedway hosted the inaugural SRX Series event on June 12, 2021. A sellout crowd watched six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby beat the superstars on his home turf in the series’ first event. SRX returned to Stafford Speedway on July 2, 2022 for another sellout event that saw Ryan Newman score his first series victory.
Stafford Field: The field for Thursday’s event at Stafford includes SRX full-time drivers Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Ken Schrader, Marco Andretti, Hallie Deegan, Bobby Labonte and Paul Tracy and part-time drivers Ryan Preece, Greg Biffle, Daniel Suarez, Tony Kanaan and Kenny Wallace. Preece was added to the event following the announcement of the schedule change from Thunder Road to Stafford. Preece, a NASCAR Cup Series regular with Stewart-Haas Racing, is a former Stafford Speedway champion. With Preece added to the field, the SRX Series will start 13 cars for an event for the first time.
Stafford Field By The Numbers:
NASCAR Cup Series champions: 3 – Tony Stewart (2002, 2005, 2011), Brad Keselowski (2012), Bobby Labonte (2000).
NASCAR Xfinity Series champions: 2 – Brad Keselowski (2010), Bobby Labonte (1991).
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champions: 1 – Greg Biffle (2000).
Indianpolis 500 winners: 1 – Tony Kanaan (2013)
IndyCar Series champions: 1 – Tony Kanaan (2004)
SRX Series event winners: 4 – Tony Stewart (4), Bobby Labonte, Marco Andretti, Ryan Newman.
Looking Back On The Season Opener: Last week at Stafford Denny Hamlin kicked off his first appearance with the series by winning the first heat race. Ryan Newman won the second heat race. Hamlin had contact with Brad Keselowski on the final lap of the second heat necessitating right front suspension repairs for Hamlin before the feature. In the feature Hamlin clawed to the front early. He passed Marco Andretti for the lead on lap 12 and never trailed again. The scheduled 80-lap feature was stopped after 57 laps due to lightning.
Newbies: Three drivers in the Stafford field this week will be making their first SRX Series start. Daniel Suarez, Kenny Wallace and Ryan Preece will each make their series debut this week.
Hometown Boy: Ryan Preece will be making SRX Series debut at the friendly confines of his home track. Preece, a Berlin, Connecticut native, has 37 career feature victories at Stafford including winning the track’s historic Spring Sizzler twice (2017, 2018) while driving on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He also won the track’s premier weekly division SK Modified championship in 2011.
Chasing The Championship: Following the first event, Ryan Newman is the top full-time driver in the standings with 38 points. Paul Tracy is one point behind Newman. Marco Andretti, with 28 points, is third among the full-time drivers. The rest of the full-time driver points include Bobby Labonte (22 points), Haillie Deegan (20), Ken Schrader (20), Brad Keselowski (19), and Tony Stewart (18).
The Biff Is Back: Greg Biffle will make his lone 2023 SRX Series appearance at Stafford this week. Biffle ran two SRX events in 2021 (Stafford, Slinger Speedway). He finished second to Doug Coby in the inaugural event for the series on June 12, 2021 at Stafford. Biffle ran the series full-time in 2022, finishing fifth points with a season best finish of second at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.
Defender: Marco Andretti is looking to defend his 2022 SRX Series championship. Andretti is in his third full-time season with SRX. His lone series victory came in 2021 at Slinger Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin. Andretti had three second place finishes in six SRX starts in 2022 to edge Ryan Newman by two points in the final series standings.
Bossman Looking For A Second Title: Tony Stewart won the inaugural Camping World SRX Series championship in 2021. Stewart had two wins, one second place and two third place finishes in 2021 to run away with the series title. Ernie Francis Jr. finished second in the standings in 2021, 45 points off the lead. Stewart had a rough start to the season, recording an 11th place finish after retiring with mechanical issues after 17 laps last week.
What they’re saying:
Brad Keselowski [on two consecutive events at Stafford]: “It’s definitely a different dynamic, but I think it’s a good one. It adds an unexpected wrinkle. It’s nice to go back there twice and see who really had what from the first race.”
Ryan Preece [on making his SRX debut at his home track]: “Obviously excited for a great opportunity to race with those guys and have some fun at my home track. I think many people in the short track racing world know I’ve come from Stafford Speedway, I’ve won championships [there], [run] a lot of races there, and it’s a great thing for the hometown fans to see a hometown driver go against [the SRX field].”
Daniel Suarez [on why he’s racing with the SRX Series]: “To run short tracks. Some of the short tracks that they do, it can be helpful for me to run some extra laps. I’ve been doing a couple Late Model races here and there, but I like that the cars with the SRX Series are pretty equal and I just think it can be a lot of fun.”
Ken Schrader [on the event last week at Stafford]: “These guys need to be driving the school bus figure eight races at Toledo. They’ve just got no respect for equipment. I know it’s tight and all the cars are the same speed, but it’s ugly. Kinda fun, but there’s way too much damage than there should be.”