Helio Castroneves Wins SRX Racing Season Opener Saturday Night At Five Flags Speedway

Story By: ALICIA DEAL / SRX RACING SERIES – PENSACOLA, FL – Helio Castroneves won the Camping World SRX season opener on Saturday night at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

Local Ringer Bubba Pollard finished second and Ryan Newman completed the podium with a third-place finish.

Pollard won Heat 1 and Castroneves won Heat 2.

Post-Race Quotes:

Helio Castroneves (Winner): “I pulled every string, every sweat I had there. What a fun series man. That was so much fun. Thanks to SRX for the opportunity. I wasn’t even supposed to be here today and look, we ended up getting the trophy. It shows this series is amazing and I’m so happy, so happy.”

Bubba Pollard (Finished 2nd in the Main Event): “Tonight was a lot of fun. The cars fired off up there and it was fun to drive. It was a handful. That’s what it’s all about man. The cars are equal. You are out there digging, getting as much as you can. It’s hot. We started the race with clean air and we were good. We got back in traffic with the invert (for heat two) but were still able to maneuver up through there. Super free, tightened the car up and the left-rear flat just killed me. I was just sitting there riding, kind of watching and seeing what those guys had and they could really get up off the corner pretty good and that was really surprising. It was a lot of fun racing. I can’t thank everyone enough for this opportunity. Once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t say enough about SRX, HightPoint coming on board, everyone that has helped me get here. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Ryan Newman (Finished 3rd in the Main Event): “It was just plain hot, Florida Everglades hot. Just happy to have a good run. It meant a lot to me personally after all I’ve been through in the last year and a half, two years with cars that were not so fun to drive, let’s put it that way. To come out here with as equally as prepared car as possible and have some fun and race with these guys. Some of them I haven’t raced with in a long time and some of them I’ve never raced with. Just to put on a good show, racing there with Bubba (Pollard) at the end was pretty spectacular, he’s the best here no doubt. To get a top three amongst, what I feel like, are the top drivers in the world is pretty special. A good run for our Sun Outdoors car and it was a lot of fun and that was number one priority for me.”

Bobby Labonte (Finished 5th in the Main Event): “It was a good night, I didn’t know how much to push early as far as racing on the tires. I think Helio (Castroneves) proved to me that you just got to run wide open. I kind of got to their back bumper with a few laps to go, but didn’t need to run the outside, I didn’t want to lose my spot. I think between the heat race I moved up in the first one because we started 11th, the second one we maintained or close to it. In the feature, I moved up early, but I didn’t want to burn up my tires and stayed in a pretty good spot and raced the guys I need to race. It wasn’t bad. A little disappointed it wasn’t a spot better.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay (Finished 8th in the Main Event): “My first stock car race, SRX race, I had a really good time. I told myself patience, patience, patience, I only learned that until the feature. I had some really good restarts and moved myself up from, I’m not sure, 10th or ninth to fifth and then just got drove in to the last two corners to fall back two spots. I had a really good time. I’m looking forward to a track with two lanes.”

Ernie Francis, Jr. (Finished 11th in the Main Event): “The day started really good. We were really fast in practice. Thought we had a good car going into the race. The car wasn’t where we wanted it in the race. We were kind of stuck around in the back, really hard to pass. Helio (Castroneves) got in the back of us and after that the car just went away. Something broke in the front steering rack I think, and the right-rear tire had something wrong with it. Had to move me over to a backup car. Tough doing that. It didn’t have my seat in it, so I’m kind of flopping all over the place just trying to hold on to it. Happy that we didn’t finish last. It’s something to go off of. We’ll try again next weekend and hopefully we can finish stronger than we did this time.”

Michael Waltrip (Finished 13th in the Main Event): “Took care of my stuff pretty good and ran pretty good in the second heat. We made an adjustment and it just made it too loose and I didn’t do a good job taking care of the tires and then I had some issues there at the end. I’m just thrilled to be a part of this. Helio (Castroneves) is the nicest guy here. He is the most gracious, humble, 4-Time Indy 500 Champion ever and it’s just so cool to see him climbing the fence for the fans. We put on a fun show for everybody. There was a lot of beaten and banging and everybody pretty much kept the cars going straight and that’s what it’s all about.”

Main Event Results at Five Flags Speedway:

Finishing Position Driver  Car Number
1 Helio Castroneves 06
2 Bubba Pollard  26
3 Ryan Newman 39
4 Tony Kanaan 6
5 Bobby Labonte 18
6 Greg Biffle 69
7 Marco Andretti 98
8 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1
9 Bill Elliott 9
10 Tony Stewart 14
11 Ernie Francis Jr. 5
12 Paul Tracy 3
13 Michael Waltrip 15

Heat 2 Results at Five Flags Speedway:

Finishing Position Driver  Car Number
1 Helio Castroneves 06
2 Michael Waltrip 15
3 Ryan Newman 39
4 Bill Elliott 9
5 Bobby Labonte 18
6 Tony Kanaan 6
7 Bubba Pollard 26
8 Tony Stewart  14
9 Greg Biffle  69
10 Marco Andretti 98
11 Paul Tracy 3
12 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1
13 Ernie Francis Jr. 5

Heat 1 Results at Five Flags Speedway:

Finishing Position Driver  Car Number
1 Bubba Pollard  26
2 Tony Kanaan 6
3 Tony Stewart 14
4 Paul Tracy 3
5 Marco Andretti 98
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1
7 Ryan Newman 39
8 Bobby Labonte 18
9 Bill Elliott 9
10 Greg Biffle 69
11 Michael Waltrip 15
12 Helio Castoneves 06
13 Ernie Francis Jr. 5

Next Race: The Camping World SRX Series now heads to South Boston Speedway on Saturday, June 25, 2022. Local Ringer Peyton Sellers will join Tony Stewart, Marco Andretti, Greg Biffle, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman, Paul Tracy, Michael Waltrip, Helio Castroneves, Ernie Francis Jr. and Tony Kanaan. The action kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and will stream live on Paramount+.

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