Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: Drivers Who Should Race SRX in 2023

The Camping World SRX Series is back, with the first race of six coming up on Thursday, July 13.

The series has a whole slate of new drivers, but it still leaves me wanting more.

It’s a new era for the series, now in its third year, as it moves from CBS to ESPN and from Saturday nights to Thursday nights for the resurrection of Thursday Night Thunder. With that, it has opened the floodgates to many of the top current and former stars of NASCAR.

Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Daniel Suarez, Kenny Wallace and Ron Capps all join the tour this year. Heck, Brad Keselowski, Ken Schrader and Hailie Deegan have committed to running the entire season for the first time.

It’s exciting to have every one of those names, but it feels like the series has gone a little too NASCAR-heavy. In it’s first season, it really seemed like a NASCAR vs. IndyCar battle with a flare of drivers from other series as well. It lost a little bit of that last season, and now, it looks like more of a senior tour for NASCAR greats.

So here’s five-ish drivers who should join SRX to spice up the series even more in year 3.

1. Shane van Gisbergen

I get that when SRX was booking its drivers, most probably didn’t even know who van Gisbergen is. But everyone knows all about Shane van Gisbergen now after his win at the NASCAR Cup Series’ Chicago street course.

With as laidback as SRX is and with drivers not having to find funding, there should be an all-out effort to land van Gisbergen. There are really only two SRX races that conflict with Australia’s SuperCars Championship, where van Gisbergen is a regular, so scheduling him for a race should not be an issue.

Van Gisbergen expressed an interest in joining NASCAR full time, and SRX would be a good first test for him on driving ovals. SRX needs to strike while the iron is hot and fans are dying to see more van Gisbergen.

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2. Carl Edwards

After falling off the map the past six years, Carl Edwards has essentially become the most interesting man in racing. He popped up twice this year at NASCAR events, and it reignited all the fan theories of him getting the itch to race again.

If Edwards really is thinking of come back, SRX would be the perfect setting to do so. He wouldn’t have to worry about getting a sponsor, doing appearances or spending a whole weekend at the track. He could literally show up, drive and go right back home.

After all, the season finale is at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo. That’s just a few hours away from him.

3. Jenson Button and/or Kimi Raikkonen

SRX has never had a Formula 1 champion before, and getting Jenson Button or Kimi Raikkonen would attract a whole new subset of fans, both domestically and internationally.

Button would make the most sense, as he is already closely linked to SRX co-owner and driver Tony Stewart. The 2009 F1 champion is in the middle of a three-race road course race deal with NASCAR Cup Series team Rick Ware Racing, which has a technical alliance with Stewart’s Cup team, Stewart-Haas Racing.

He’s expressed an interest in running oval races in NASCAR, and as with van Gisbergen, SRX would be a good introduction to ovals. Button will already be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Aug. 13, so why not run the SRX race at nearby Eldora Speedway three days earlier?

As for Raikkonen, he has oval experience, racing the NASCAR Xfinity and Craftsman Truck series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2011. I don’t know that Raikkonen has any racing planned in the foreseeable future, so SRX would be something fun for him if he misses it. The 2007 F1 champion has such a unique personality that he would certainly add to the cast of characters that already make up SRX.

Both Button and Raikkonen are over the hill by F1 standards, but they’re both a lot younger than a majority of the full-time SRX drivers. So what they lack in oval experience, they could make up for in youth and adaptability.

4. Local Heroes

The absolute coolest trait of SRX the first two seasons was that each race had a local hero. There would always be at least one entry who was a regular at the track that week and someone the local fans could rally behind as he goes to battle against legends across the motorsports spectrum.

The series’ first race ever was won by Doug Coby. Bubba Pollard and Luke Fenhaus both turned heads in their runs as local heroes. It was cool to see Peyton Sellers represent his home track of South Boston Speedway after winning the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national championship.

SRX has done away with this for its third season, which is a huge misfire. The established drivers really don’t have much to race for except for pride. But the local heroes were racing for their 15 minutes of national fame, or maybe even more in some cases.

Coby translated his win into a Truck start at Bristol Motor Speedway. Fenhaus is running for the ARCA Menards Series East championship and got his first win in May.

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It’d be awesome to get a local hero again this year. Layne Riggs should get a race for the winning the national championship. Coby should return at Stafford Motor Speedway. Heck, Pollard should be full time, as he would be an awesome character to add to the series. Maybe SRX could’ve even lured the legendary Philip Morris, a five-time national champion, out of retirement to race at Motor Mile Speedway, where he turned thousands of laps.

Instead, we get no local heroes, and SRX loses some of the stakes.

5. Rusty Wallace

I realize Rusty Wallace is 66 years old, but he is younger than Schrader (68), who is full time this season. He is also younger than Bill Elliott (67) and Willy T. Ribbs, who both competed in SRX in past seasons. Wallace was a better racecar driver than any of those three, especially at short tracks, which is two/thirds of the SRX schedule.

You want drivers with personality? Wallace still gets more fiery and has more personality in his pinky than many NASCAR drivers have today. Look how fired up he got just last year over Ricky Rudd and Harry Gant not being in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Imagine how heated Wallace would get if Paul Tracy dumped him on lap 2. Plus, brother Kenny Wallace is already entered in the races at Thunder Road Speedbowl and Lucas Oil Speedway. Wouldn’t it be cool to see the Wallaces race together one more time?

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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dawg

Robby Gordon

Mr Yeppers

Good article. Be fun to see Carl race again in this series and would be hugely popular. I witnessed many of Phillip Morris’s wins on the local tracks in North Carolina and Virginia. He would have been an excellent local choice and I hate they’ve done away with that this year.

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