Tony Stewart’s SRX Season 2 Brings New Names, New Leadership

Photo credit: Dylan Buell / SRX – Getty Images

  • The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) is a six-race short-track series that kicks off Season 2 on June 18.

  • All races in the all-star series will be broadcast live on CBS TV.

  • Three-time NASCAR Cup champion and current team owner in NASCAR and NHRA Tony Stewart is the series’ defending champion.

After a successful inaugural season in 2021, the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) begins its sophomore campaign this Saturday at Pensacola, Florida.

Some Changes

The six-race and six-week made-for-TV short-track series featuring recently retired (and a handful of current) drivers from different racing disciplines airing on CBS — all races are on Saturday evenings from 8 pm to 10 pm ET— will have several changes for its second year.

Photo credit: Mike Comer - Getty Images

Photo credit: Mike Comer – Getty Images

• First, longtime Charlotte Motor Speedway official Don Hawk has assumed control of the series as its CEO.

• Second, SRX co-founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham has stepped down from the day-to-day operations of SRX. Evernham remains as a series investor / owner.

Hawk was initially interested in a consultant’s role, but that quickly evolved into being offered the CEO post just before Christmas last December.

“Ray Evernham stepped aside to be a pure owner and didn’t want to be an active day-to-day operations guy anymore,” Hawk told. Autoweek. “That’s what they needed to replace.”

• Third, of the six racetracks on the schedule for the 2022 season, four are new from last season.

Kicking things off this Saturday, the series makes its first appearance at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. Going forward, the second week of the schedule will visit South Boston (Va.) Speedway (June 25).

Photo credit: Elsa / SRX - Getty Images

Photo credit: Elsa / SRX – Getty Images

The two holdover tracks from last season are Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford, Connecticut (July 2), and Nashville Fairgrounds in Tennessee (July 9).

Rounding out the schedule are the only two dirt tracks on the schedule: the Ken Schrader-owned I-55 Speedway in Pevely, Missouri (July 16) and the season-ending and likely championship-deciding event on July 23 at the Dave Blaney- owned Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio.

“The biggest changes are just the ability to add on to what you already have and try to equalize or do better, that’s always the objective,” Hawk said. “We had an outstanding Year 1, so the focus now is to build on Year 1. We won’t settle for mediocrity, we’re shooting for the moon.”

The Drivers

SRX co-founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart returns as the series champion and will compete in all six races this year.

Photo credit: Dylan Buell / SRX - Getty Images

Photo credit: Dylan Buell / SRX – Getty Images

Here’s a list of other drivers that will compete either full-time or part-time:

Full-time: Stewart, former NASCAR drivers Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Bobby Labonte and Michael Waltrip; IndyCar drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti and former IndyCar driver and NBC announcer Paul Tracy.

Part-time: 2021 and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will compete in three events (South Boston, Stafford, Nashville), NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (Five Flags, Stafford) and Tony Kanaan (all races except Stafford).

Also competing: NASCAR driver Chase Elliott, along with Ryan and Dave Blaney, will all take part in the season finale at the Blaney-owned Sharon Speedway.

Schrader will compete in the race at his track, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Hailie Deegan will appear in two races (Stafford and I-55), as well. NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2023 inductee Matt Kenseth will compete in three events (Nashville, I-55 and Sharon Speedway).

Others include Indy Lights driver Ernie Francis Jr. (Five Flags and South Boston), while IndyCar driver and winner of Sunday’s race at Road America, Josef Newgarden, will compete in the SRX event at Nashville.

Also, one very popular element from last season returns this year, with one local star from each track on the schedule slated to mix it up with the big names in the field.

Tickets Going Fast

While the racing action and rules will be the same as last season, one difference is that Friday practices have been eliminated. All events will be one-day shows, with practice, qualifying, heat races and the main event all on the same day.

Photo credit: Sean Gardner - Getty Images

Photo credit: Sean Gardner – Getty Images

Hawk is bullish on the series continuing its momentum from last season and anticipates all six events to be sold out. Stafford is already sold out, Five Flags is close to being sold out for this weekend’s season opener, and others are also close to selling out as well.

“I’d say the fan reaction is one of our leading economic indicators that we’re doing okay,” Hawk said. “With social media, our metrics are way higher than last year, as well as our racetrack ticket sales are way higher than last year.

“Stafford is already sold out. I think they’re all going to be sold out. I’ll be actually unpleasantly surprised if one of those six doesn’t sell out. That’s not just promoter talk, I really like the conversations with the track owners and drivers. I feel good about that. It’s very conceivable to have six sellouts. “

One other minor tweak to the schedule is the first four races will be on pavement, with the last two on dirt. Last year, dirt races were scattered in-between pavement races on the schedule.

Will There Be A Season 3?

While Season 2 is just about to get underway, there is already discussion to potentially expand the series next year.

Photo credit: Dylan Buell / SRX - Getty Images

Photo credit: Dylan Buell / SRX – Getty Images

“There’s talk on the table whether to expand the existing season, or have something at a different time of the year,” Hawk said. “There’s numerous proposals out there, but my main focus is to deal with the task at hand starting this weekend in Pensacola, Florida.”

Plans also call for bringing new tracks online each year to further expand the reach of the series. For example, no race has been held yet west of the Mississippi River. That could potentially change next season or in 2024.

“I think you keep a couple of (this year’s tracks) the same and then the logical progression would be to add some new ones because there are so many great short tracks across America, so why not move it around,” Hawk said.

But that’s putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. There’s still Season 2 to be run, and Hawk can’t wait for that first green flag to fall this Saturday night.

“The main focus is to have great TV ratings, we have a great television partner with CBS, we want to put on a product that makes it compelling for people who will be there in-person, as well as watch it on TV,” Hawk said. “The goal for that is a high bar we set on ourselves, and if we accomplish that, then we did what we set out to do. If we come up short of that, then we didn’t do what we were supposed to do. “

Follow Autoweek correspondent Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter JerryBonkowski

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