NASCAR Hall of Famers Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham teaming up to launch new racing series in 2021

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Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart is launching a new racing series. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart is launching a new racing series. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham are part of an effort to start a new racing series that will start in 2021 and be broadcast on CBS.

The news of the new series was first reported by the Sports Business Journal on Monday. The three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion driver and three-time Cup Series champion crew chief are two of four people on the board of the pending Superstar Racing Experience series.

The series has an agreement with CBS to air its six races next summer. The races will be on Saturday nights. NASCAR typically races on Sunday afternoons. From the SBJ:

■ A television strategy that will fit races into two-hour prime-time windows, presenting a contrast to NASCAR’s races that can run twice that long.

■ A focus on driver performance, rather than auto technology. Evernham will design the cars so that everyone races with the same equipment.

■ It will include racers and crew chiefs who are well known. Each race will have 12 drivers randomly matched with a crew chief.

■ It will feature racing under the lights at short tracks in the American heartland.

■ It is being positioned as an easier sale for sponsors that want to buy time on TV and at the event. “They make one phone call to be integrated in all aspects of the broadcast and the event,” George Pyne said.

Pyne is one of the other two people involved in the project. He used to work for NASCAR and was even its COO before he left early in 2006.

“SRX is a series where the cars will be so evenly matched that talent instead of equipment will win the race,” Stewart said in an SRX release. “The competition will be intense, and thanks to the vision of such strong leaders in the sports and entertainment industry, millions will be able to watch live and in primetime on CBS.”

Stewart is a co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series. His team won Sunday’s race at Kentucky as Cole Custer scored his first career win. Stewart is also the owner of the Eldora Speedway dirt track in Ohio. The track is one of the most famous dirt tracks in the country and hosts the NASCAR Truck Series for an annual event, though the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled it for the 2020 season.

Evernham was Jeff Gordon’s crew chief throughout the 1990s and the two formed one of the most prolific driver-crew chief pairings in modern NASCAR. He transitioned to the ownership side of NASCAR when Dodge entered NASCAR in 2001 and his Evernham Motorsports team was folded into another team during the 2007 season.

“We are looking forward to teaming with Superstar Racing Experience to bring this exciting new auto racing series to CBS in primetime,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said. “This innovative racing series will feature great drivers competing on short tracks and will provide viewers with unique, behind-the-scenes access, bringing fans closer to the action. With the backing from legends in the racing industry, the quality of the drivers and competition, and the atmosphere that short tracks will help to create, the Superstar Racing Experience is a great addition to our live summer sports programming that racing fans will embrace.”

Ray Evernham at his 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Ray Evernham at his 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Who will be racing?

While the SBJ story says that the drivers in the series will be “well known,” none of those potential drivers were identified. It makes sense that drivers who are racing part-time in NASCAR or recently ended their NASCAR careers would be a part of the series. It would be logistically tough for any full-time NASCAR driver to compete in the series.

And it’s also tough to see how SRX could be a competitor to NASCAR, at least at any point in the short term. It’s important to remember the AAF and XFL’s forays into spring football. While the coronavirus pandemic shut the XFL’s reboot down this spring, neither league was going to come close to rivaling the NFL had they been able to complete their seasons.

Completing its season in 2021 will be a victory for SRX given the current uncertainty in the sports world. And if the season does happen, racing fans will at least have the opportunity to watch more short track racing. That certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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