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Race report

Tony Stewart beats Hailie Deegan for Eldora SRX win

Three-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart held off Hailie Deegan over a pair of late restarts to earn his first SRX Series win of the 2023 season.

Tony Stewart's SRX win

Stewart proved early on he was the favorite in Thursday night’s Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) event at Eldora Speedway, winning the first heat race from the third starting position and winning the second after a complete field invert.

SRX, founded by Stewart, Ray Evernham, Sandy Montag and George Pyne, features six short track races on a mix of pavement and dirt with drivers running identical cars.

Deegan emerged from a battle late in the main event with Ryan Newman and Ken Schrader to move into second behind Stewart. However, she could not catch him on two late restart opportunities.

Tony Stewart's SRX win

Tony Stewart's SRX win

Photo by: Wayne Reigle / SRX

“It’s special to race here, much less win here, because I haven’t even raced here in a long time,” said Stewart, who owns the half-mile clay oval. “I told my crew chief that we were going to climb the fence. He told me I was crazy, but I told him that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

“We dragged TV over there and they were going nuts for it. This was a special win and a special night for me.”

It was a tough night for the series as a five-car crash in the first heat race terminally damaged two of the competitor’s cars.

Marco Andretti and Deegan, who compete full-time in the series, were placed in backup cars while Tony Kanaan was sidelined for the rest of the night.

With only the season finale remaining, Newman leads the series standings with 183 points and holds a 39-point advantage over Stewart. Reigning series champion Marco Andretti is third, 47 points behind the leader. Newman needs only to finish fifth or higher in next week’s main event to clinch the title.

The six-race series now heads to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., next Thursday. The field will include full-time drivers Stewart, Newman, Brad Keselowski, Schrader, Andretti, Deegan and Bobby Labonte as well as Hello Castroneves, Clint Bowyer, Kenny Wallace, Ernie Francis Jr and Jonathan Davenport.

Tony Stewart's SRX win

Tony Stewart's SRX win

Photo by: Wayne Reigle / SRX

The action kicks off at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Main Event Results at Eldora Speedway:

1. Tony Stewart

2. Hailie Deegan

3. Ryan Newman

4. Bobby Labonte

5. Matt Kenseth

6. Marco Andretti

7. Chase Briscoe

8. Ken Schrader

9. Brad Keselowski

10. Ron Capps

11. Austin Dillon (DNS)

12. Tony Kanaan (DNS)

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