Francis, who has also made three NASCAR series starts in his career, led the final 65 laps of the 76-lap race and withstood NASCAR Hall of Fame Bobby Labonte in a two-lap shootout until the ‘arrival.
âDude, I’m totally speechless, it’s amazing,â said Francis, who beat Labonte by 0.649 of a second on the 0.686-mile cobblestone oval near Indianapolis. âThose last 10-15 laps seemed to take forever. It was like an eternity there, all the caveats. I was just trying to focus on a good reboot.
âMe and Scott Speed ââwent there for a few laps, side by side, and I didn’t know how it was going to end. I ended up with a few donuts on the car, but man, I couldn’t be happier with that, super amazing.
“I want to thank everyone at SRX, Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for giving me this opportunity.”
Ernie Francis Jr. at the SRX race at Lucas Oil Raceway
Photo by: SRX
The victory put 23-year-old Francis in second in the series standings, 30 points behind leader Stewart, who had won two of the first three races.
“That last green-white checkerboard when it was just Ernie and I, my car was just too tight and I didn’t want to hit it too hard – I just needed to keep it together and drive it back to home, âLabonte said.
Speed, the former Formula 1 driver who moved to NASCAR and then Rallycross, was third after leading the first 11 laps.
âDude, we had such a good fight, me and Francis,â said Speed, who won the first qualifying race. âWe were definitely the two best cars and we were playing cat and mouse with our tires to save them.
“And then with 10 to go it was ‘game over.’ We were both going to load up and we had such an awesome side-to-side race.”
Superstar Racing Experience (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 driving identical cars.
SRX heads next to Slinger, Wisc. Speedway on July 10; and his season finale is July 17 at Nashville (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Speedway.
Each Camping World SRX Series race is broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on the CBS television network with a live broadcast on Paramount + Premium.
Characteristics results (76 laps)
Note: The starting lineup was based on the average final positions in qualifying races # 1-2.
1. Ernie Francis Jr. (Party 6th; led laps 12-76; finished 76/76 laps)
2. Bobby Labonte (Party 3rd; finished 76/76 laps)
3. Scott Speed ââ(Started 2nd; laps led 1-22; laps completed 76/76)
4. Marco Andretti (Party 8th; finished 76/76 laps)
5. Bobby Santos III (Party 9th; finished 76/76 laps)
6. Michael Waltrip (Party 5th; finished 76/76 laps)
7. Tony Stewart (Party 1st; finished 76/76 laps)
8. Paul Tracy (Party 10th; finished 76/76 laps)
9. Helio Castroneves (Party 4th; finished 76/76 laps)
10. Tony Kanaan (Started 7th; finished 76/76 laps)
11. Willy T. Ribbs (Started 12th; finished 76/76 laps)
12. Bill Elliott (Started 11th; finished 76/76 laps)
SRX Series Championship Rankings (after Round 4 of 6):
1. Tony Stewart (160 points)
2. Ernie Francis Jr. (130 points, -30)
3. HÃ©lio CastronÃ¨ves (120 points, -40)
4. Bobby LabontÃ© (115 points, -45)
5. Marco Andretti (111 points, -49)
6. Michael Waltrip (86 points, -74)
7. Paul Tracy (83 points, -77)
8. Tony Kanaan (65 points, -95)
9. Bill Elliott (52 points, -108)
10. Willy T. Ribbs (45 points, -115)