The first SRX race wasn't won by a superstar

STAFFORD SPRINGS, CONNECTICUT - JUNE 12: SRX driver Doug Coby celebrates after winning the Inaugural Superstar Racing Experience Event at Stafford Motor Speedway on June 12, 2021 in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. (Photo by Elsa/SRX/Getty Images)
Doug Coby won the first SRX race. (Photo by Elsa/SRX/Getty Images)

The first race of Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham's Superstar Racing Experience was not won by a superstar.

That's not a slight to Doug Coby. He's a great driver and a six-time Modified Tour champion. He showed it on Saturday night. But he also wasn't a household name entering the evening to most of the fans tuning in to CBS to check out the new racing series.

Coby was selected for the race because of his success at Stafford. He has over 30 wins and was invited to the race as part of the series' desire to include stars from the the six local tracks on the SRX schedule to see how they stacked up in equal cars to drivers who mainstream fans recognized.

"Short tracker won it tonight," Coby said.

His familiarity with the track was evident from the start. He won the second heat and led 80 of the feature race's 100 laps. Coby beat out drivers like Stewart, Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves and Greg Biffle.

After Coby got out of his car, the fans at Stafford chanted his name. In his post-race interview he paid tribute to a friend named Don King who had died earlier in the week. King was one of the first people to help launch Coby's racing career.

First of six Saturday nights

The race at Stafford Speedway was the first of six consecutive Saturday nights of SRX racing at short tracks across the country. The format is pretty simple and straightforward. Twelve drivers compete in two heat races to set the field for the main event. The main event at Stafford was 100 laps and the whole event was done in about two hours and 15 minutes — far shorter than a typical NASCAR race.

The race also featured many familiar names to NASCAR fans on the television side. Former NBC and ESPN play-by-play announcer Allen Bestwick was on the call. Danica Patrick was the analyst. Former Fox pit reporter Matt Yocum was the pit reporter for SRX. Former TNT host Lindsay Czarniak was the telecast host.

It was a straightforward broadcast that succinctly explained what was happening and didn't dumb anything down. At the slight risk of being hyperbolic, the production value of the SRX telecast was better than what Fox's NASCAR telecasts have become. Fox set a new NASCAR standard when it started broadcasting the series in 2001. Since then it's become hokey and the production quality has declined in recent years.

The racing itself was, well, it was racing. There were a few wrecks but passing wasn't plentiful. That could change over the next few weeks. You can't expect the first event to be a barnburner. Even if the racing doesn't get any better it's at least a fun novelty to watch if you have nothing else to do on a Saturday night this summer.

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