In a one-lap dash to the finish, Marco Andretti grabbed his first Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) victory at Slinger Speedway in the fifth of six races for the series.
Andretti, a 16-year veteran of the NTT INDYCAR Series, was thrilled with the win.
“Honestly, I know it’s not a popular win, but I tried to be as clean as possible,” he said. . “I’m so proud of him (Luke Fenhaus). I’m trying to learn from him, to be honest with you. Just delighted to be able to do it without touching him. I know it’s not a popular win, but us old guys have to get it when we can. He’s young, he’s got a lot of time ahead of him. I had so much fun.”
Prior to the race, Andretti was awarded the pole and stayed up front until the caution on Lap 44. The Tennessee native swapped the lead multiple times with the “Local All-Star,” 17-year-old, Fenhaus, who won the 42nd Slinger Nationals Tuesday night.
Following the first caution for the green-flag lap limit, Fenhaus and the Knoxville Raceway winner, Tony Stewart, battled side-by-side for the top spot. But, with the track being a half-mile, Stewart and Fenhaus couldn’t clear each other until the next yellow flew at Lap 92 as Stewart had just cleared Fenhaus for the lead.
After the second green-flag lap limit caution, the restart came with 45 laps to go, but the race was slowed once again. The No. 15 of Michael Waltrip had trouble off Turn 2 and brought his car behind the wall.
Two more cautions flags were flown with 15 laps and 12 laps to go. Following the Lap 138 caution for the contact between Greg Biffle and Helio Castroneves, Fenhaus was a man on a mission. It appeared as though he was on his way to winning once more at the famous track in Wisconsin.
Unfortunately for the local favorite, Fenhaus would have to wait one more time, as the final yellow came out with one lap to go when Hailie Deegan turned Paul Tracy in Turn 4. Tracy, Waltrip, Castroneves, and Willy T. Ribbs were also involved in the melee.
The yellow flag set up a green-white-checkered finish with two laps to go with Fenhaus and Andretti on the front row. Andretti got the advantage on Fenhaus going into Turn 1 and went on to win the SRX race in his fifth start.
Fenhaus, who was strong throughout most of the night, leading 18 times for 92 laps, came home in second place.
“I think he (Marco) jumped it a little bit, which didn’t help me at all,” said Fenhaus, who earned his spot in the 12-driver field by winning Tuesday night’s Slinger Nationals. “I was better on the top. I felt like we could roll on the outside. I was just worried that he’d shove me up the racetrack if I went to the outside. I probably would’ve lost either way. He would’ve run us hard. It is what it is. Second place, I can’t complain.”
“We talked about it Monday before the Slinger Nationals and decided that if we won the Slinger Nationals, it was kind of a no-brainer to run SRX,” said Fenhaus, a rising senior at Wausau East High School. “I’m glad we came here, for sure. Just to come here and enjoy the experience and to soak it all in – it’s crazy and surreal, to say the least. I loved every minute of it. If I could do it again, I would. Hopefully, it leads in the right direction for my career.
“It was an insane race. The race against Tony (Stewart) for that long, side-by-side, I’m glad we put on a show for the fans. I hope they all enjoyed it. It’s unreal to race against these guys. They’re so good at what they do. It’s hard to beat them.”
Stewart, the championship points leader, rounded out the podium finishing in third.
“My buddy Marco winning the race and us having another podium finish and gaining some more points in the standings with one race to go is a big deal to me,” said Stewart, a two-time winner already in the Camping World SRX Series. “The first five weeks of this series have been awesome. To go to three totally different racetracks – the three paved tracks are totally different from each other, and then two totally different dirt tracks – it’s been a lot of fun. To sit there each weekend and see how much fun everybody is having, that’s the payoff for all this. It’s payoff for all of us as drivers.
“To get ready for this race, I watched some YouTube videos and Luke Fenhaus was the star of a lot of them. Getting to spend the day with that kid has been the highlight of my day, to be honest. He’s the most composed 17-year-old I’ve ever seen. There are kids in the (NASCAR) Truck Series and Xfinity Series who don’t have the composure that this guy’s got. I hope somebody will give him a shot, even if it’s a one-race deal to give him a crack at it and make himself a name.”
Official Results following the SRX event at Slinger Speedway:
- Marco Andretti
- Luke Fenhaus
- Tony Stewart
- Hailie Deegan
- Bobby Labonte
- Ernie Francis Jr
- Willy T. Ribbs
- Greg Biffle
- Bill Elliott
- Helio Castroneves
- Paul Tracy
- Michael Waltrip
Tony Stewart continues to lead the SRX Championship Points over Francis Jr. by 38 points.
Up Next: The SRX Racing Series will head into their final race of the season at the Nashville Fairgrounds Saturday, July 17 at 8 p.m. ET live on CBS.