Race Weekend Central

SRX Preview: Running It Back at Stafford

After mass-scale flooding throughout the state of Vermont, SRX made the tough call last week to move this Thursday’s (July 20) race away from the Thunder Road Speedbowl.

A quarter-mile, high-banked oval, Thunder Road is one of the most notable short tracks in the country. It’s exclusion from this year’s schedule was a tough call, but one that SRX had to make.

The track, which was founded by Ken Squier, has been awarded a make-up date on the 2024 SRX schedule. The Vermont Community Foundation has put together the VT Flood Response and Recovery Fund 2023, which can be found and donated to by clicking right here.

With SRX not at Thunder Road, the series will be returning to the Stafford Motor Speedway for another round this week. All 12 drivers slated for the race at Thunder Road will now be racing this week at Stafford, with a surprise 13th driver announced with the news of the race being moved to Stafford: Ryan Preece.

See also
Ryan Preece Running 2nd Stafford SRX Race

Here is the full driver list for this week’s event, ordered by their last name and with guest drivers in bold:

DriverNumberSponsor
Marco Andretti1Camping World
Greg Biffle69?
Hailie Deegan5Good Sam
Tony Kanaan66Purdue University
Brad Keselowski6Camping World
Bobby Labonte18Sport Clips
Ryan Newman39South Point
Ryan Preece41?
Ken Schrader52Federated Auto Parts
Tony Stewart14Bass Pro Shops
Daniel Suarez99?
Paul Tracy3Caymus Vineyards
Kenny Wallace36JEGS

Now, let’s look at three of the superstars starting in Thursday night’s race.

Maybe no driver in the field has turned more laps at Stafford than Ryan Preece.

The 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion has won at Stafford in that series nine times. He has had seven other races in which he led at least 47 laps in a 150-200 lap race.

Preece isn’t going to have the track-time advantage with the SRX car like many of his competitors will, especially after not racing last week at the same track. But really only Doug Coby himself would be a stronger possible guest driver at Stafford — and Coby dominated pretty thoroughly in his lone SRX start there.

It’s great to see Preece back in the NASCAR Cup Series this year, honestly. There are a number of drivers with different upbringings and backgrounds in Cup racing, but remarkably few Modified drivers advance to the top level of stock car racing.

Preece is the lone former full-timer from that series currently active that is full-time in Cup. While it’s cool to see all the dirt stars in Cup today, it’s important to still have a bit more of a melting pot among drivers so that everybody brings a little something different to the table.

Speaking of bringing something a bit different to the table, Daniel Suarez definitely does as the first SRX driver to have any NASCAR Mexico Series experience. Suarez finished runner-up in that series’ championship in 2013 and won 10 races there.

You may think this would mean Suarez is more of a road-course-focused driver, and he definitely does have some props in that department as a Sonoma Raceway winner at the Cup level. But NASCAR Mexico actually runs on a number of small ovals throughout the country.

In Mexico, Suarez won at Nuevo Autodromo de Queretaro, El Dorado Speedway, Autodromo Chiapas and Autódromo Internacional de Aguascalientes. All of these may sound like strange, far-off places for many American race fans. But in reality, all of these tracks are classic hard-nosed, short track ovals. Just like Stafford.

Hailie Deegan is the lone full-time non-Cup NASCAR driver in the field. The driver, who just turned 22 years old this week, is in her third full-time season in the Craftsman Truck Series and is currently 19th in points.

Deegan has had a bit of a rough go development-wise. She at one point was touted as the potential replacement for Kevin Harvick years ago when she signed for Ford, and now obviously was not in the running when the time came.

SRX is a big test for Deegan, as it gives her a chance to show what she has in an environment outside of the Truck Series. Last year, she turned a couple of heads with a very solid one-off start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. If she wants to move on from Trucks, really her best case would be to point at her results outside of the series as evidence that she could perform out of it.

So outside of Keselowski, Deegan is racing with the most pressure of anybody in the SRX field. She seemed to flounder a bit in the heats last week, but was able to get going in the closing laps to finish fifth in the feature. Her results should improve this week.

The second event of the 2023 SRX season will be telecast on ESPN on Thursday, July 20. Coverage will begin at 9 p.m. ET.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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Johnny Cuda

I’ll be there!

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