1) Tony Stewart
After consecutive wins at Knoxville and Eldora, Stewart is holding the keys to the SRX castle right now. While no other SRX competitor has been on the podium more than once, Stewart is three-for-three in that regard, and has to be considered the favorite in the series.
2) Bobby Santos, III
If Stewart is the favorite to win, Santos is the most likely to challenge Stewart for the win on Saturday. Santos has enjoyed plenty of success at Lucas Oil Raceway over the years, including winning in both a Midget and Sprint Car in June’s Thursday Night Thunder Homecoming event. If anyone has a “home-field advantage” a la Doug Coby at Stafford, it is Santos.
3) Helio Castroneves
The four-time Indy 500 champion has adapted quickly to the fenders of SRX. After fourth-place finishes at Stafford and Knoxville, Castroneves claimed the third spot at Eldora. At Stafford, “Spiderman” charged from 11th to fourth in the main event after being collected in a Heat Two incident. Perhaps some of his Indianapolis magic can shine at the 0.686-mile oval down the road in Brownsburg.
4) Bobby Labonte
In an interview with Speed51’s “The Bullring” Monday, Paul Tracy noted how difficult it is to compete with racers in SRX who have been in the seat more frequently than himself in recent years. Labonte has definitely enjoyed plenty of seat time recently, between the SMART Modified Tour, SRX and a runner-up finish with the JEGS/CRA Tour at Kil-Kare Raceway. This will also be a track where Labonte won back in his NASCAR Busch Series days.
5) Ernie Francis, Jr.
Ernie Francis, Jr. sits third in the Camping World SRX Series points standings and continues to impress over the course of the season. Eldora was a struggle for the young driver, but he still scored a win over the weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with the FR Americas series. Getting back on the pavement should also be a benefit to Francis.
6) Michael Waltrip
Like Labonte, Waltrip is also in the record books as a winner at the track formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park, with his second career Busch Series win coming there in 1989. Excessive damage prevented a strong finish at Stafford, but Waltrip has been plenty competitive when circumstances fall his way this season.
7) Marco Andretti
A couple of strong heat race showings have helped Andretti considerably in the SRX points chase, but the feature finishes had been lacking before a fourth-place run at Eldora. There’s no doubt Andretti has speed, but he’ll have to hold it together and keep the tires underneath him for 76 laps on Saturday for a strong finish.
9) Scott Speed
It’s difficult to gauge where Speed will stack up after finishing sixth on the dirt last weekend. Speed may be a rallycross and X-Games champion, but he has more experience on paved ovals than dirt bullrings.
9) Paul Tracy
After struggling mightily in the first two rounds, Tracy showed speed and no shortage of aggression at Eldora. With how tight the racing can be at Lucas Oil Raceway, it won’t be surprising if PT pulls out the chrome horn again this Saturday.
10) Tony Kanaan
Kanaan has a pair of seventh-place finishes at Stafford and Eldora after missing the Knoxville event due to prior commitments. He’ll hope to make his way into the top half of the field at Lucas Oil Raceway.
11) Bill Elliott
Hard-luck Bill Elliott once again failed to make it to the finish of an SRX race last weekend, as he was collected in an incident triggered by contact between Paul Tracy and Bobby Labonte. Hopefully, “Awesome Bill” will be able to see the checkered flag this weekend.
12) Willy T. Ribbs
Ribbs showed a little muscle at Eldora, leading laps during the second heat, but good finishes still elude the former Trans-Am star. He’ll hope to change that at Lucas Oil Raceway.