Stafford Motor Speedway SRX Takeaways: Ryan Newman’s Racing Recovery Is Complete


Ryan Newman doesn’t remember the part of the 2020 Daytona 500 that’s important to the rest of us. Millions of people at the track and watching around the country wondered if they had just witnessed the first fatality in a NASCAR race in nearly 20 years.

Would you have ever imagined, seeing that, seeing Newman in this kind of victory lane on national television just two years later?

It was his biggest win to date since getting back in the driver’s seat, winning the SRX main event at Stafford Motor Speedway in a thrilling late-race battle with former boss Tony Stewart. He is the sixth main event winner in the last six SRX races, as parity continues to reign supreme.


Where does Newman go from here? That’s just one of five stories as we leave Stafford Motor Speedway at the SRX’s halfway point.

Newman goes all the way back

Reliving that accident reminds you how miraculous it was that Newman walked away. Diagnosed with a bruised brain, he was out of the hospital in a week and back in a Cup car in three months.

Unfortunately, the rigors of NASCAR racing and the changing dynamics of the sport took their toll from there and Roush Fenway Racing dropped Newman when Brad Keselowski purchased the organization at the end of the 2021 season.

So Newman took a chance on SRX, a six-race summer opportunity to have fun and prove he can still drive at a high level. At Stafford, he methodically moved through the field on a night that was tough to get through, taking the lead for the first time with six laps remaining. It was a small contact at the perfect time, a move Marco Andretti knew was coming, and yet he couldn’t stop it.

“Overdrive,” Andretti said of Newman’s hit to the front. “Wheel jump at the end.”

That was the opening Newman needed to get the win and build on his points lead over Tony Stewart (up to 11 in three races). More importantly, it was a big moment in life that didn’t go unnoticed by a driver who often jokes that he lives on overtime.

“Having my daughters here was very special,” she said. “Beating the best between Marco (Andretti) and Paul (Tracy), Tony (Stewart) and all the guys that are part of this deal. It’s very special to be a part of this and then beat them.”

Could this win mean another NASCAR shot for Newman? Ideally, the Cup is the grand prize, but one hopes some Camping World Truck Series owners were watching. He would be a phenomenal addition to that division if the right opportunity presented itself.

Paul Tracy, an SRX winner?

It almost happened, a week after Tracy finished last in all three heats at South Boston Speedway. The former IndyCar star, best known in SRX for causing the crashes, still had a moment, contact with Greg Biffle sending the No. 69 sliding across the grass in the main event.

This time, Tracy held on, then held her ground after gaining an SRX-high eight positions in the first two heats. A third-place finish in the main event was his best finish in nine SRX races in his career as, for the first time in a while, the driver backed up his bad boy image with raw speed.

“That was like a win for me,” Tracy said. “I had a lot of problems here last year. I just drove the car too much in the entry… I’ll take it, man. I was dying to finish on the podium.”

Big names debuting in 2022 walked away with disappointing results

Hailie Deegan started this SRX race from the pole. Behind her, Justin Marks started fifth, a last-minute addition as the co-owner of NASCAR’s up-and-coming Trackhouse Racing Team came out of retirement from him. The hope was that both he and Deegan could energize the series, running up front with popular fan bases.

But neither Deegan nor Marks got the results they expected. Without leading a lap, Deegan proved to be invisible for most of the night and finished sixth in the main event. As for Marks, he finished ninth in the main event and lost a total of 11 places in the three races – only Bill Elliott (-16) did worse. But, like Deegan, he came out with a smile on his face.

“I’m probably the least experienced short-track driver in the field,” said Marks, whose only NASCAR victory came on a road course in Mid-Ohio (Xfinity Series). “It was really cool to be around Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, all these guys that I grew up with seeing that, honestly, it motivated me to pursue a career in racing.”

Doug Coby, reviewed

Doug Coby, the first SRX main event winner, was on hand Saturday night to cheer on this year’s Stafford Motor Speedway representative: Matt Hirschman. Unfortunately, Hirschman didn’t fare as well, finishing no better than fifth. It leaves Coby as the only local All-Star to win a main event a year and a half into the series.

It was an impressive achievement against the likes of three-time Stewart Cup champion, four-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves and other superstars. And Coby should have gotten a better shot at that, period.

The win led to a one-race Truck deal at Bristol Motor Speedway. But ever since that race, in which Coby finished 12th, the 42-year-old has been sidelined as younger drivers take precedence in a sponsorship-driven sport. As SRX grows, it would behoove them to link up with teams from other series to give champions some sort of reward for beating the best.

Coby remains in a class of his own and the sold-out crowd made their love for Coby known, with several coming after the race to ask why he wasn’t in an SRX car.

Odds ‘N’ Ends

Tony Stewart spoke to the drivers’ staff this week about the SRX carnage that caused one mechanic, Kevin Ridley, to work 32 hours straight to fix the cars. Did the ending work? Not a single caution for a major incident in a race at Stafford… Bobby Labonte overcame a save on grass to lead for the first time in SRX competition, win the second heat race and finish fifth in the main event. His six consecutive top-five finishes in the main series is a series record … Justin Marks said Saturday that he will talk to Helio Castroneves “in no time” about the Daytona 500. His new part-time No. 91 team was built for international pilots. to get a shot at NASCAR.