Special from Associated Press – St. Petersburg, FL (Thursday, March 24, 2022): At least six drivers with IndyCar roots will compete in the second season of Tony Stewart’s all-star racing league, including a surprising one-off appearance by a current Team Penske driver.
Two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was given permission by Penske to race in the Superstar All-Star Experience on July 9 at Nashville Fairgrounds, his home track in Tennessee.
Don Hawk, hired last month as CEO ahead of the second season of SRX, told The Associated Press on Wednesday he has commitments from a half-dozen IndyCar drivers. Hawk said he was attending Sunday’s season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida, for more discussions.
“I see a huge value in signing IndyCar drivers, past and present,” Hawk said. “They’re a complement to SRX as they bring superstar talent and passions to fans of all kinds of racing.”
Hawk said former champion Paul Tracy and Marco Andretti, who has again entered this year’s Indianapolis 500, have both committed to the full six-race schedule. Both ran the full SRX schedule last year.
They will be joined by former IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, who lost his ride with Andretti Autosport and has time to run all six SRX races. Hunter-Reay is also slated to drive the 12 Hours of Sebring sports car race for Chip Ganassi Racing next month.
Tony Kanaan will run five SRX races, and Helio Castroneves will run three — both Brazilian drivers were part of SRX’s first season. Hawk said that Ernie Francis Jr., who parlayed a win in an SRX race last season into a ride this year in Indy Lights, will race twice.
Hawk did not disclose whether any NASCAR drivers will be joining the SRX field this season. He said SRX is exploring the ability to get Robert Wickens into a race. Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a 2019 crash and returned to racing only last month in a sports car event in Daytona. His car was equipped with hand controls.
SRX was conceived by Stewart and Ray Evernham, both NASCAR Hall of Famers. The series pits all-star drivers against one another in Evernaham’s equally prepared cars. SRX races live on CBS over six summer Saturday nights at historic tracks in the grassroots racing movement.
Last year, in the sixth and final race, then-NASCAR champion Chase Elliott beat his 65-year-old father, Bill Elliott, the night before a Cup Series race and Stewart was crowned the first SRX champion.