Pulaski County Motorsports Park played host to the third race of the 2023 Camping World SRX Series season, and as expected the fireworks from the previous two weeks continued into Southwest Virginia.
But he wasn’t the story.
After a relatively clean 100-lap feature, the biggest incident of the night came on lap 90, when Paul Tracy tried to clear himself in front of 2023 Indianapolis 500 champion Josef Newgarden and was turned into the outside wall.
Tracy and Schrader’s cars were perhaps the most torn up an SRX car has ever been. Schrader was caught on ESPN cameras walking to Tracy’s car and leaning in to say something before quickly walking off.
Schrader granted several media interviews after the accident, but the point was very short and similar throughout each interview: the accident was Tracy’s fault and it took out several other cars in the process.
In his TV interview with ESPN, Schrader gave Tracy the benefit of the doubt and hoped a tire went down, but upon seeing the replay declared his refusal to race with Tracy again.
“I’m not running another race with him,” Schrader said. “I’m done.”
Unfortunately this incident is just the latest one that Tracy has been a a part of. Dating back to the first season in 2021, it’s been hard to go more than a race or two without a driver(s) complaining about something that Tracy did.
Series co-owner Tony Stewart, who finished third at Pulaski, told Frontstretch that the series may stop inviting drivers back who constantly tear up racecars, implying that this season could be Tracy’s last.
To make things worse, Tracy seemingly denied responsibility, saying he was battling with Newgarden for a while and had a nose on him before getting hooked into the wall.
“I got half a car length ahead of [Newgarden] and I just got hooked and turned sideways down the straightaway,” Tracy said.
The wreck was so egregious that even Conor Daly, the guest analyst in the ESPN booth, couldn’t defend Tracy.
“Paul just flat out ran Josef into the wall,” Daly said on the broadcast. “That’s easily avoidable. That’s inexcusable, really. Paul was hoping Josef Newgarden was just going to be a magician and disappear, and that’s physically not possible.”
This comes after Stewart held a private driver meeting before the race again. This talk isn’t unfamiliar in the series, as he had to have a similar conversation last season as well.
It seems like lessons haven’t been learned, and Tracy’s future in the series is now up in the air.
SRX officials indefinitely suspended Tracy following the incident.
On a lighter note, one of the more exciting stories of the night was that of Clint Bowyer, who was making his second start of the season. The night started out horribly for Bowyer, as he lost power with two laps to go in heat one and finished dead last.
But thanks to the inverted lineup for heat two, Bowyer started on pole and had a spirited battle with Ryan Newman, eventually holding him off to win heat two.
After starting deep in the field for the main event, Bowyer quickly found grip by using the apron and methodically sliced and diced his way through the field. His run was so impressive that Daly dialed him up from the booth mid-race.
“I’m busy!” he said in true Bowyer fashion.
Daly even spotted for him as he battled Newman for position. SRX doesn’t have spotters, so Daly humorously asked if it was cheating to spot for Bowyer.
Ultimately, Bowyer’s run to the front stalled out at second, but it was still enough for a second-place medal. Perhaps a win is in Bowyer’s future; he will compete in the season finale at Lucas Oil Speedway in his home state of Missouri.
The 2023 SRX season is officially halfway over, and Newman continues to grow his lead over Andretti. He sits 21 points ahead of the defending SRX champion, but Stewart’s third-place finish was the shot in the arm he needed to get back into championship contention, as he’s now 24 points behind Newman in third.
The fourth race of the season will take place at Berlin Raceway, the 7/16-mile racetrack in Marne, Mich. This is the first time this season the series will go to a track that is active in the main NASCAR/ARCA circuit, as the ARCA Menards Series competes there annually.
Busch, Helio Castroneves and Kevin Harvick return for their second respective starts of the season. Making his SRX debut at Berlin will be former NASCAR driver and World of Outlaws competitor Kasey Kahne. Joey Logano will also return to the SRX booth for his second race of the season.
Coverage for the SRX race at Berlin will begin Thursday, Aug. 3 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
About the author
Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. He co-authors Only Yesterday (Wednesdays) and Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the site's primary Truck Series reporter and writer, and contributes to SRX coverage, too. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is currently pursuing his master of journalism at Temple University. He is a theatre actor and fight choreographer-in-training outside of Frontstretch. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.
You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.
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