STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. – The Camping World SRX Series made its debut Saturday night at Stafford Motor Speedway, with local favorite Doug Coby defeating a field full of racing legends to become the first winner in series history.
The 100-lap feature event took the green flag with Coby and Michael Waltrip leading the field to the green. Coby took the lead at the start while Tony Stewart quickly took second from Waltrip. Ernie Francis Jr. was fourth and Tony Kanaan was fifth. The caution came out on lap four when Francis made contact with Waltrip to send Waltrip into a spin in turn three.
The race restarted on lap 10 with Stewart nearly taking the lead from Coby but the two cars remained side by side for the lead. Marco Andretti was third in line followed by Greg Biffle and Francis. Lap 12 saw Andretti make a three-wide move in turn four to pass both Coby and Stewart to move into the lead. Biffle took second with Coby falling back to third in line. Stewart was fourth with Francis still in fifth place. Helio Castroneves was sixth followed by Kanaan, Bobby Labonte, Waltrip and Paul Tracy.
Biffle, who had to switch to a back-up car after a crash in the second heat, took the lead from Andretti on lap 15 and he brought Coby into second place and dropped Andretti back to third. Stewart got around Andretti for fourth place on lap-18 and Francis followed him by to take fourth and drop Andretti back to fifth.
Coby made a move to the inside of Biffle on lap-24 and he completed the pass on lap 25 to retake the lead. Stewart was still running in third with Francis fourth and Andretti fifth. Biffle took a look to the inside of Coby on lap 31 and the two cars touched briefly with Coby maintaining the lead. Andretti fell back several spots on lap 37 to seventh as Castroneves took fifth and Labonte moved into sixth while Coby continued to lead Biffle, Stewart and Francis. A competition caution waved on lap 41 that slowed the field.
On the restart, Coby took the lead although he had to fend off a heavy challenge from Stewart. Biffle snuck by Stewart to take second with Stewart settling into third place. Andretti was back up to fourth with Kanaan up to fifth as Waltrip got sideways with damage to his rear wing and came to pit road several laps later.
Castroneves worked his way around Kanaan to take fifth on lap-51 and Kanaan and Francis engaged in several laps of a heavy fight for sixth place before Kanaan fell back to eighth place. Castroneves made a dive bomb move on Andretti going into turn three with the two cars touching and Andretti spinning to bring the caution out on lap 58.
The lap 63 restart saw Biffle take the lead by a nose at the line before Coby went back to the front on lap 64. Stewart was still in third with Labonte now up to fourth and Castroneves was fifth in line. Francis was sixth followed by Kanaan, Andretti, Paul Tracy, and Willy T. Ribbs.
With 20 laps to go, Coby was still in command followed by Biffle, Stewart, Labonte, Castroneves, Francis, Andretti, Kanaan, Ribbs, and Tracy. Andretti’s right-front tire went flat to bring the caution out on lap-94 with Coby still leading Biffle, Stewart, Labonte, and Castroneves.
The race restarted on lap 98 with Coby taking the lead ahead of Biffle and Stewart. Neither Biffle or Stewart could get close enough to Coby over the final two laps as Coby scored the victory.
“What a special night for short-track racing in America,” said Coby. “This is a special night for Stafford Motor Speedway and everybody who is a short-track racer around the country, whether you’re dirt or asphalt.
“Just to have all these fans here and all these drivers – the guy who won the Indy 500 two weeks ago, NASCAR Hall of Famers, Daytona 500 champions, and here I am, Modified Tour guy and homegrown Stafford Speedway guy. It just goes to show there are a lot of good short-trackers out there. I like to think I’m one of them, but there are hundreds of others who are good at their craft and get around their speedway really good. It ain’t going to be easy for any invader, and I love that we were in equal cars.”
Biffle finished second with Stewart, Castroneves, and Labonte rounding out the top-five.
Doug Coby, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Ernie Francis Jr., Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs, Paul Tracy, Marco Andretti, Michael Waltrip, Bill Elliott.