Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway welcomed the Superstar Racing Experience back for another visit to the Connecticut half-mile facility that was shown live on ESPN. Denny Hamlin scored a dominating victory with rain and lightening in the area cutting the race short from the 75 scheduled laps to 58 laps.
Marco Andretti took the lead on the opening lap with Clint Bowyer in second. Denny Hamlin took second from Bowyer on lap-2 and Hamlin and Bowyer would swap that position back and forth several more times before the caution came out with 7 laps complete for spins in turn 4 by Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski that collected the cars of Ken Schrader, Hailie Deegan, and Bobby Labonte.
Andretti powered back into the lead on the lap-11 restart with Hamlin settling into second. Bowyer was third with Paul Tracy in fourth and Newman and Tony Kanaan side by side for fifth. Hamlin took the lead from Andretti on lap-13 while Kanaan took fourth from Tracy. Bowyer made a move to the inside of Andretti on lap-17 to take over second but Andretti came right back on the next lap to get back by Bowyer. Kanaan was still fourth and Tracy fifth as Hamlin continued to lead the race.
Bowyer went back by Andretti to move into second on lap-21 with Tracy taking fourth from Kanaan. Hamlin was still in the lead but Bowyer was quickly closing in on Hamlin’s back bumper. With 30 laps complete, Hamlin and Bowyer had pulled away from Andretti in third, who had Tracy, Kanaan, Newman, Deegan, Keselowski, Labonte, and Schrader in an eight car train.
Tracy made a move to the inside of Andretti on lap-34 to take over third and with Andretti getting sideways, he slipped back to sixth place as Kanaan took fourth and Newman fifth. The caution came out at the halfway point of the race with Hamlin leading Bowyer, Tracy, Kanaan, Newman, and Deegan.
Hamlin took the lead on the lap-45 restart with Bowyer in second. Newman moved into third with Tracy fourth and Andretti in fifth. Deegan took over fifth place from Andretti on lap-48 while Neman took second from Bowyer on lap-51 as Hamlin continued to lead the race. Just as Newman had caught Hamlin, the caution came out with 56 laps complete as rain began to fall with lightening off in the distance. The cars were shown the white flag on lap-57 and Hamlin took the checkered flag under caution on lap-58 to score the victory in the opening round of the 2023 SRX Series. Newman finished second with Bowyer, Tracy, and Deegan rounding out the top-5.
SUPERSTAR RACING EXPERIENCE (75)
1) Denny Hamlin
2) Ryan Newman
3) Clint Bowyer
4) Paul Tracy
5) Hailie Deegan
6) Marco Andretti
7) Ken Schrader
8) Bobby Labonte
9) Brad Keselowski
10) Tony Kanaan
11) Tony Stewart
12) Kevin Harvick