STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. (WWLP) – It was an historic night at Stafford Speedway on Saturday night as fans got to see the debut of the SRX (Superstar Racing Experience). The series features many different drivers from all forms of racing and also lets the short track racer have the opportunity to race with these drivers. Coby took down the win on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd.
Fans got to see qualifying heat races that were 15 minutes each. Greg Biffle won the first heat race and the field was inverted as Doug Coby won the second heat race and the cars were lined up for the 100 lap race. Coby and Michael Waltrip led the field to the green. Coby took the lead and Tony Stewart would be in second. On lap 4 was the first caution of the event as Waltrip spun in turn 3 after making contact with Ernie Francis, Jr.
Stewart almost took the lead on the restart from Coby on lap 10 but Coby would continue to lead. Marco Andretti worked his way to the front and made a three-wide pass for the lead on Coby and Stewart on lap 12. Biffle would wreck his car in the second heat race and have a backup car and made it work as he took the lead from Andretti on lap 15. Coby would start to contend with Biffle for the lead. He started to look at a pass for the lead on lap 24 and completed the pass on lap 25 for the lead.
Biffle would try to take the lead from Coby as both cars would make contact on lap 31 but Coby would continue to lead. A competition caution came out on lap 41.
Coby would lead on the restart as Stewart would try to contend for the lead but Coby was able to hold off Stewart. Biffle would pass Stewart for second place. Helio Castroneves would try to pass Andretti as both cars made contact with Andretti spinning in turn 3 bringing out the caution on lap 58.
Biffle took the lead on lap 63 restart by a nose before Coby would resume the lead on lap 64. Coby would continue to lead with 20 laps remaining in the event. The final caution of the event came out on lap 94 as Andretti had a right-front tire go flat. The final restart would have a two-lap shootout as Coby was able to hold off Biffle and Stewart to win the inaugural SRX event at Stafford. Coby told 22News what it was like to have the hometown crowd cheering for him.
“It’s awesome. We always support the guys who’s representing the hometown track. They stood behind me. It’s a special thing to have all these people here at this track. We come here for the (Whelen Modified) tour. We’ve had good crowds but we never had this and this excitement. All of these people super excited to be here for short track racing. The fans are awesome. The fans are why we do this and hopefully the fans keep going to short tracks,” Coby said.
Greg Biffle finished in second. He talked about the race to 22News.
“I am really happy with it. That’s the thing about all the cars being prepared equal is it’s unique to be able to go in and get in a backup car like that and being able to be competitive and actually the seat fit fairly well. We took my insert out of the other car and put it in that car. Other than the rearview mirror would go down every once in a while. I had to reach up there and it turn back up so I could see where the guys were behind me. Its says a lot about the cars that Ray (Evernham) and the guys have put together. They’ve done a lot of hard work. I had a tremendous amount of fun,” Biffle said.
Biffle does think SRX is kind of like the old IROC series.
“Absolutely, I raced IROC in 2003 and I think some of the things that will make this different is these tracks and these drivers and the way the program is put together. Reminds me a lot of that but I think it’s a lot better now,” Biffle said.
Tony Stewart finished in third. Stewart is one of the founders of the series. There was a sellout crowd at Stafford on Saturday night for the debut of the SRX Series and Stewart told 22News seeing the fans happy is what it’s all about.
“The whole concept of it was to have fun and to celebrate motorsports. I think this was a perfect example of that tonight and what everybody saw that this is what its design for. That’s what its supposed to be fun for everybody,” Stewart said.
Stewart has raced in a modified before at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and New Smyrna Speedway. Coby and Stewart were chatting on Friday afternoon and Stewart told 22News that Coby did make an offer to him to race in the modifieds
“I am gonna try to see what I can pull out of my schedule. We need 30 hour days and 400 day years to get all of this stuff accomplished that I want to do,” Stewart said.
Coby told 22News about how much he wants Stewart, Biffle and Bobby Labonte to come and race in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event.
“Labonte is having a good time down south running a modified and hopefully these guys can talk and pick up a car. I told them if they need help and they want to do it. Phil (Moran) and I are willing to share notes and get them involved because it’s big for our series to have people like that. I want Bobby (Labonte) to come up and run with us. A lot of it is not knowing what equipment they need and maybe we can work something out with these guys to do something down the road,” Coby said.
Helio Castroneves finished in fourth and Bobby Labonte rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ernie Francis, Jr, Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs, Paul Tracy and Marco Andretti. Michael Waltrip finished in 11th and Bill Elliott finished in 12th.
The SRX series will have to travel Knoxville Speedway in Iowa as the race will be held this upcoming Saturday.