Earlier this week, Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham announced plans to launch the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX), with plans to take the track in 2021. Inspired by the former International Race of Champions (IROC), the vision for the SRX involves a six-race season using spec cars driven by current and former racing greats.
However, Evernham noted he’d also love to see short track racing stars receive opportunities in the SRX.
“Evernham’s dream list includes Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jimmie Johnson, [Jeff] Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Tracy and short track racers and up-and-comers who have proven their skills but can’t get a break,” reported the Associated Press.
So which short track racers would we love to see in the Short Track Experience? Here is a list of drivers we’d hope to see get a shot in the new series.
Bubba Pollard – Short track racers who have proven their skills? You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better candidate in that qualification on pavement than Bubba Pollard. With more than 100 Late Model wins across some of the biggest events in the discipline, Pollard has established himself as one of the top guns of the past decade.
Despite that success, we’ve never seen Pollard compete in a series higher than the ARCA Menards Series, and not in that series since 2015. Plenty of people believe he could compete with the best if given the shot, and the SRX could be that shot, if only for one night at a track such as Five Flags Speedway.
Derek Thorn – Despite two ARCA Menards Series West championships, Derek Thorn has only attempted one NASCAR Xfinity Series event, when he failed to qualify for a race at Richmond Raceway (VA) in 2013.
Along with those successes, Thorn has 44 career wins in the SRL Southwest Tour Series, more than any other driver. He also shined during last year’s Snowball Derby, taking the pole for the event and running up front throughout the race before a pair of late incidents dashed his shot at contention.
Donny Schatz – Schatz is a 10-time World of Outlaws Sprint Cars champion and a 10-time Knoxville Nationals champion. “King” Steve Kinser competed in IROC, so it would only be fitting to see this generation’s Sprint Car dominator get a similar shot.
Even more intriguing, Stewart and Evernham have expressed interest in taking their series to dirt track such as Eldora Speedway, Terre Haute Action Track and, yes, Knoxville Raceway. How would Schatz fare in an unfamiliar car, but at a place where he has won so much?
Doug Coby– Originally from New Jersey, Evernham was a modified racer before becoming a Hall of Fame crew chief. He mentioned Stafford Motor Speedway as a track he’d love to visit with SRX, and undoubtedly would love to shine a greater spotlight on the ground pounders of the northeast.
It’s hard to say which would be better – seeing Coby get an opportunity to represent the Modified world in the SRX, or seeing the Twitter exchanges that would take place between him and fellow Modified champion Justin Bonsignore, win or lose.
Kenny Wallace – Even at 56 years old, Kenny Wallace is still a racer at heart. The former Cup Series racer and nine-time Xfinity Series winner stays on the road, traveling from dirt track to dirt track with his Modified and picking up his share of wins.
You get the best of every world by adding “Herman” to the SRX. Established name with a history at the highest levels? Check. A passionate racer who will drive anything with a steering wheel? Check. A magnetic personality that will engage fans? Check-plus-plus.
Jonathan Davenport – Davenport is a three-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion on the verge of his 50th win in the series. In the Dirt Late Model world, Davenport is one of the top stars.
So why not give Davenport a shot in an SRX event, especially at a place like Eldora where he has won the World 100 three times as well as the Dirt Late Model Stream? It would be great exposure for Dirt Late Model racing and a chance for “Superman” to put on his cape in front of an even larger audience.
Josh Berry– Berry has become one of the top racers in Late Model Stock Cars, the career leader in wins on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour and now a champion of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA).
Berry has missed just two CARS Tour events since 2016, competing with higher series on both occasions. However, those one-off events with the ARCA Menards Series or NASCAR’s Truck and Xfinity Series have not materialized into full-time plans. Competing in the SRX would answer how he’d stack up against some of racing’s greats.
Stephen Nasse – “I want to prove that they’re not the best of the best. The best of the best are still hidden at the short tracks. If I get around Kyle Busch, I want to make him cry a little bit.”
Those were Nasse’s words on one episode of Speed51’s “The Bullring” when asked what it was like to compete against the likes of Busch in marquee short track events. Love the 2019 Winchester 400 champion or hate him, who doesn’t want to see “Nasty Nasse” match up against some of racing’s best and try to back up that claim?
Travis Braden – Winners of the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway have gone on to enjoy great success in NASCAR, especially in recent years. Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and John Hunter Nemechek are all winners from the 2010s who are now in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Travis Braden is the latest winner of this prestigious event, taking home the Tom Dawson Trophy from the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby. Braden is a former ARCA Menards Series race-winner, but has never had an opportunity above that series to prove himself.
Tyler Courtney – “Sunshine” was originally lined up to make his NASCAR Truck Series debut at Eldora Speedway this year with Niece Motorsports. However, that event has been cancelled as part of the restructuring of schedules amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hopefully, this doesn’t rob Courtney of a shot at the event in 2021. Either way, the former USAC Sprint Car National Champion deserves a chance to showcase his abilities in front of a national audience.
Wild Card: Ty Majeski – Yes, Ty Majeski is now in the NASCAR Truck Series and working his way up the racing ladder. However, he is still very much connected to his short track roots, most recently winning the Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway (WI).
In events such as the Slinger Nationals and the Snowball Derby, Majeski has already proven he can go toe-to-toe and compete with the likes of NASCAR champions such as Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth. Competing in SRX could just be another opportunity for him to prove that.
Which short track racers would you like to see behind the wheel of an SRX car in 2021? Let us know by Tweeting @speed51dotcom on Twitter or by commenting on Facebook.
-Story by: Speed51 Staff
-Photo credit: Speed51