Labonte beats Andretti to Nashville SRX win

Labonte beats Andretti to Nashville SRX win

SRX

Labonte beats Andretti to Nashville SRX win

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Bobby Labonte scored his first Camping World SRX Series win on Saturday night at the Nashville Fairgrounds.

After a third place in the first heat race and a fourth-place finish in heat 2, Labonte started from pole position in the main event and led every one of the 75 laps on the paved oval. However, a late-race caution closed up the field and Laborite had to hold off a hard charging Marco Andretti and Matt Kenseth.

Andretti finished second for the second week in a row followed by Kenseth in his SRX debut. Kenseth’s showing added to a strong night for first-timers, as IndyCar racer Josef Newgarden won his first heat and local ringer Cole Williams won the second heat.

“We had a great night, a lot of fun. Can’t believe I won one,” said Labonte, who at age 58 is the oldest driver to win an SRX race. “This is so intimidating with these drivers. I’m telling you, I get nervous. I’m just thinking,‘Man I see Matt Kenseth coming and I’ve seen this story before. Oh my god, here he comes.’ Maybe I made it look a little easy tonight, but it wasn’t easy.”

Labonte said his win was the product of steady improvement and learning from some of his fellow all-stars.

“I didn’t run that good in practice and I told Tony (Eury Jr.), ‘I think I’m running the wrong line,’” he said. “I usually try to fire off and go fast and try to feel like I have plenty of confidence and I didn’t, but I will say, I just followed Josef (Newgarden) there early and a couple of the other guys. They’re tough.”

Andretti admitted to a little frustration about finishing second for the second week in a row, but felt Laborite always had the edge.

“Bobby Labonte shot out of a cannon right from the start of the feature, so I knew he was a force to reckon with there. I think the fastest car won for sure,” Andretti said. “I was one step of rear grip away getting in and coming off the corner. If I can get the power down a little better, I think I would have gotten closer there at the end. Those Cup guys know just how far to pull away at the end so you can’t get to their bumper. It was a fun one. I keep running steady. We’re going to be bummed if we keep finishing second.”

After taking third, Kenseth blamed himself for a tactical error that blunted his chances at the finish.

“I ran myself out of time a little bit there,” he admitted. “I should have counted cars so I had some inside restarts there at the end. I felt like I saved the most rear tire. My car drove a lot better in the feature. We got the stagger kind of under control and it was much better. I burned the tires off so bad and got so loose in the heat, I couldn’t do anything, so I was bound and determined not to do that. I felt I had the best tires at the end but ran myself out of time. I should have gone a little sooner.”

He’ll get a chance to apply that lesson next week as the Camping World SRX Series moves on to I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri — the first of two dirt tracks to conclude the six-race season — on Saturday, July 16. Joining the top three finishers from Nashville at I-55 will be Ken Schrader, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ryan Newman, Paul Tracy, Michael Waltrip, Tony Kanaan and Hailie Deegan.

Nashville main event results:

Finishing Position

Driver 

Car Number

1

Bobby Labonte

18

2

Marco Andretti

98

3

Matt Kenseth

5

4

Paul Tracy 

3

5

Helio Castroneves 

06

6

Ryan Newman 

39

7

Josef Newgarden 

2

8

Michael Waltrip 

15

9

Greg Biffle 

69

10

Ryan Hunter-Reay 

1

11

Tony Stewart

14

12

Cole Williams 

46

13

Tony Kanaan

6

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 9 – ROAD AMERICA

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