It probably comes with little surprise that Tony Stewart knows his way around Eldora Speedway, a dirt track in Ohio that he has owned since 2004. Consequently, it is not unexpected that Stewart dominated Saturday’s Camping World SRX Series event there, winning the first heat race and the feature to sweep the fledgling series’ dirt races.
Tony Kanaan and Kody Swanson made up the front row to kick off the first heat. Swanson, a five-time USAC Silver Crown champion driving the local track car and also competing in that night’s Silver Crown event, battled with Kanaan and Stewart throughout the qualifying race. Stewart took the lead shortly before a caution came out, leading to a restart with four minutes remaining. Stewart held off Hélio Castroneves to win.
As Willy T. Ribbs led the way to start Heat #2, Kanaan’s second heat quickly fell apart after connecting with Ernie Francis Jr. and spinning, with Stewart, Swanson, and Michael Waltrip also falling victim; the damage forced Swanson to switch to a backup car for the feature. Marco Andretti and rallycross champion Scott Speed sparred for the rest of the heat with the former winning out.
Heat #1 results
|7||2||Ernie Francis Jr.|
|12||17||Willy T. Ribbs|
Heat #2 results
|9||17||Willy T. Ribbs|
|10||2||Ernie Francis Jr.|
By finishing first and third in the heats, Stewart’s average finish placed him on the pole ahead of Andretti, though he started at the rear after making a quick pit stop. As a result, Paul Tracy joined Andretti on the front row.
Tracy dominated the first half of the race after taking the lead from the opening lap. The second restart on lap 26, which came after a caution for Kanaan’s spin, saw Swanson pass Tracy for first. Another restart came with eight laps remaining as Swanson and Stewart led.
Stewart took the lead from Swanson after a lap. On lap 45, Bobby Labonte spun and collected Bill Elliott, ending the latter’s race and setting up the final restart of the night. Swanson and Stewart ran side-by-side for much of the ensuing green flag until the latter cleared him for the top spot. Swanson was unable to catch Stewart as he took his second win of the year; with his Knoxville victory the previous week, Stewart secured a sweep of the two dirt races.
Swanson placed second to mark the third straight race in which the runner-up was not a full-time driver. Castroneves joined the two on the podium.
The series returns to pavement next week at Lucas Oil Raceway.
|8||2||Ernie Francis Jr.||50|
|9||17||Willy T. Ribbs||50|