Hélio Castroneves battling Tony Kanaan is a headline that NTT IndyCar Series fans are accustomed to, except Saturday night’s race was not in open-wheel cars. In fact, even the track they were racing on is more known for its stock cars than anything else.
Castroneves and Kanaan fought for the win for much of the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience season opener at Five Flags Speedway, and the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Castroneves trumped the once victor for his first win in the series. He got the ball rolling in Heat #2 by leading every lap.
A late restart saw Heat #1 winner Bubba Pollard, a short track star representing the Pensacola oval as its local champion, quickly climb through the order to take second. Former NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Newman joined Pollard and Castroneves on the podium. The third-place finish makes Newman the points leader going into next Saturday’s South Boston Speedway round ahead of seven other full-time drivers.
While a perennial fan favourite who scaled the catchfence as he always did for his IndyCar triumphs, Castroneves was not originally entered in the race. Nevertheless, he flew to Florida with the hope that a spare car would be available and his speculation proved accurate as the series carries at least three backup vehicles. The one-off start came with a caveat from SRX CEO Don Hawk, who offered him a chance to début in the Cup Series—particularly at nearby Daytona International Speedway—if he won. Needless to say, the ball is now in Hawk’s court (PROJECT91, anyone?). Incidentally, Kanaan is also in talks about dabbling in the stock car series.
Castroneves contested the full 2021 SRX schedule and finished fifth in points with a podium. He currently races full-time in IndyCar and has also won an IMSA title.
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