SRX Fast Food: Helio Castroneves’ heist highlights season opener at Five Flags Speedway

Simply 48 hours earlier than the primary SRX race of 2022, Helio Castroneves was not within the beginning line-up. A final-minute change left him beginning the gun within the area, thirteenth on a monitor he had by no means raced earlier than. Add to the sweltering warmth, as drivers blasted off with in-car temperatures approaching 150 levels, and it was robust for a 47-year-old.

“I pulled each thread, each sweat I had there,” Castroneves joked.

It turned out to be greater than sufficient for the four-time Indy 500 champ to earn his first essential occasion as SRX’s 12 months two kicked off. Castroneves edged out home competitors Bubba Pollard and NASCAR’s Ryan Newman and IndyCar competitor Tony Kanaan to turn out to be the sixth completely different winner in seven main occasions within the SRX complete.

It is also been a badge of honor for the Open Wheel stars, making a press release early on after we have a look at 5 issues we have realized from our debut on this CBS racing collection:

Rating one for IndyCar

Castroneves ended up taking over each Warmth 2 and the principle occasion on an evening the place the Open Wheel stars shone. He joined forces with Tony Kanaan and Paul Tracy to guide 104 of 143 laps, forward of the NASCAR stars who didn’t drive a single lap throughout their first warm-up for the primary time in SRX historical past.

“I wasn’t purported to be right here in the present day, and look, we ended up getting the trophy,” Castroneves joked. “It reveals this collection is superb and I am so comfortable, so comfortable.”

So does IndyCar, after its drivers received solely as soon as throughout the six-race spherical in 2021 (Marco Andretti, Slinger). Final season, three-time NASCAR champ Tony Stewart blasted off to the championship whereas the opposite contenders from the open wheel ranks (Bobby Labonte, Ernie Francis Jr.) did not come.

Castroneves is now eyeing no less than one future begin in NASCAR, the Daytona 500. He is wager with SRX CEO Don Hawk to get him if he wins the principle occasion and now the auto world is asking on the inventory trade to maneuver the Indy 500 winner towards their aspect of the fence.

Will Trackhouse Racing tackle Castroneves? It is positively doable, as a result of their new third crew is constructed round giving the worldwide drivers an opportunity on the cup.

A distinct Bubba is coming very quickly

No, I am not speaking about Bubba Wallace. Bubba Pollard, a 31-time winner of 5 Flags Speedway, was chosen because the native contestant for the occasion. After pulling out first place, Pollard received the Warmth 1, main 21 laps within the race, then took extra factors than some other driver within the area in spherical two (+6 after beginning the race in thirteenth).

Pollard put his middle-end in first for the principle occasion, a race he stored in competition for till a flat left rear tire close to the midway level. Trapped in site visitors, he stored racing from it, incomes 9 factors in a single 25 lap till time ran out and needed to accept second.

“Sure, we killed that flat tire,” he stated after the race. “That obtained us actually late. These guys, when you’re again within the area there… it was arduous for them to get by way of.”

It was nonetheless a incredible effort for the native driver, maybe the very best since Doug Kobe’s win at Stafford Motor Speedway final 12 months. Coby ended up with one Tenting World Truck Collection deal for his efforts; May the take a look at itself are available in Pollard’s method?

slack scholar

Ernie Francis Jr. has solely been working a restricted schedule at SRX this season and must profit from his possibilities. It did not occur on Saturday evening, as a result of contact with Castroneves ruined the primary warmth earlier than Francis needed to get right into a spare automobile for the principle occasion.

“One thing broke within the entrance steering rack, I feel,” Francis defined. “And the correct rear tire has one thing incorrect with it. Arduous [going to a backup car]…my seat wasn’t in it, so I am sort of fumbling all over making an attempt to carry on. “

Francis hoped to realize some momentum after a tricky rookie 12 months within the Indy Lights (averaging 9.0 end to seven begins).

Tony’s issues

In a complete of 18 SRX races final 12 months (together with qualifying), Stewart collected 16 of the highest 5 races. His worst end result was seventh, feeling that the SRX co-owner didn’t face a critical problem to the championship.

Nicely, 2022 already looks as if a unique story. Stewart has but to drive a lap at 5 Flags after hitting 131 laps excessive on the SRX final 12 months. He completed third, eighth, and tenth-worst of his profession to begin the 12 months in an unfamiliar place: 19 factors behind the championship lead.

Likelihood is, this desk performs into Stewart’s palms the longer he goes (the final two races have been on grime, his robust go well with). However it actually seems like newcomers like Ryan Newman (third in 5 Flags) together with Labonte, Hunter-Reay and others can provide this NASCAR Corridor of Famer a run for its cash.

How about 5 flags?

The hype heading into this race surrounded two issues: the warmth and whether or not these SRX automobiles may cross the half-mile oval which struggled to interrupt a second groove.

The warmth ended up turning into a problem for everybody.

“It was simply sizzling,” Newman stated. “Florida Everglades Scorching.”

However in the long run, it didn’t have an effect on the race as all 13 drivers managed to cross unhurt. That is no simple process on an evening most of the attendees suffered warmth stroke, to not point out the SRX roster together with Invoice Elliott, 66.

The sudden shock was how effectively the automobiles have been in a position to race aspect by aspect right here. There was work happening throughout the sphere, only a few moments because the 13 automobiles have been placed on maintain throughout an evening the place monitor circumstances have been slick and treacherous. Individuals have been in a position to drive (or slide backwards) throughout the sphere at will, a significant promoting level for a collection trying to put the ability again into the driving force’s palms.

“We did a enjoyable present for everybody,” Michael Waltrip stated after dying was lastly accomplished! “There was a number of banging and banging and just about everybody stored the automobiles going straight…that is it.”