NTT INDYCAR Series veteran Marco Andretti won the Camping World SRX Series event Saturday night at Slinger Speedway to take his first victory in a racecar with fenders and a roof.
The third-generation racer whose grandfather is Mario Andretti and father is Michael Andretti held off local all-star Luke Fenhaus to take the win at the quarter-mile, high-banked asphalt oval 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee.
“Honestly, I know it’s not a popular win, but I tried to be as clean as possible,” said Andretti, a 16-year veteran of the NTT INDYCAR Series. “I’m so proud of him (Fenhaus). I’m trying to learn from him, to be honest with you. Just delighted to be able to do it without touching him. I know it’s not a popular win, but us old guys have to get it when we can. He’s young, he’s got a lot of time ahead of him. I had so much fun.”
Andretti was able to pass Luke Fenhaus on a green-white-checkered restart to win at Slinger Speedway. Fenhaus, a 17-year old Wisconsin native and the winner of the Slinger Nationals, had been well on his way to victory at the white flag when a crash triggered by Hailie Deegan and Paul Tracy set up a final restart.
Andretti beat the 17-year-old Fenhaus to the checkered flag by 0.194 of second in a green-white-checkered finish.
“I think he (Marco) jumped it a little bit, which didn’t help me at all,” said Fenhaus, who earned his spot in the 12-driver field by winning Tuesday night’s Slinger Nationals. “I was better on the top. I felt like we could roll on the outside. I was just worried that he’d shove me up the racetrack if I went to the outside. I probably would’ve lost either way. He would’ve run us hard. It is what it is. Second place, I can’t complain.”
Fenhaus started second and led 18 times for a race-high 92 laps. At 17 years old, he is the youngest winner in the 42-year history of the Slinger Nationals. The Wausau, Wisconsin-native skipped his planned start in the ARCA Midwest Tour championship at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Illinois, to compete in the SRX race at Slinger, despite being second in the championship standings. It proved to be a good choice, as that race was rained out while the Camping World SRX Series event at Slinger ran under a clear sky.
“We talked about it Monday before the Slinger Nationals and decided that if we won the Slinger Nationals, it was kind of a no-brainer to run SRX,” said Fenhaus, a rising senior at Wausau East High School. “I’m glad we came here, for sure. Just to come here and enjoy the experience and to soak it all in – it’s crazy and surreal, to say the least. I loved every minute of it. If I could do it again, I would. Hopefully, it leads in the right direction for my career.
“It was an insane race. The race against Tony (Stewart) for that long, side-by-side, I’m glad we put on a show for the fans. I hope they all enjoyed it. It’s unreal to race against these guys. They’re so good at what they do. It’s hard to beat them.”
Stewart finished third to pad his lead in the Camping World SRX Series championship standings to 38 points over second-place Ernie Francis Jr.
“My buddy Marco winning the race and us having another podium finish and gaining some more points in the standings with one race to go is a big deal to me,” said Stewart, a two-time winner already in the Camping World SRX Series. “The first five weeks of this series have been awesome. To go to three totally different racetracks – the three paved tracks are totally different from each other, and then two totally different dirt tracks – it’s been a lot of fun. To sit there each weekend and see how much fun everybody is having, that’s the payoff for all this. It’s payoff for all of us as drivers.
“To get ready for this race, I watched some YouTube videos and Luke Fenhaus was the star of a lot of them. Getting to spend the day with that kid has been the highlight of my day, to be honest. He’s the most composed 17-year-old I’ve ever seen. There are kids in the (NASCAR) Truck Series and Xfinity Series who don’t have the composure that this guy’s got. I hope somebody will give him a shot, even if it’s a one-race deal to give him a crack at it and make himself a name.”
Fourth place went to Hailie Deegan who raced in place of Tony Kanaan as a schedule conflict prevented him from competing at Slinger.
“It’s been so much fun. I love it. The SRX series is great racing,” said Deegan, who finished second to Stewart in her first Camping World SRX Series start June 19 at Knoxville (Iowa) Speedway. “Coming back to short-track racing reminds me of my (NASCAR) K&N West days and I just enjoy it so much. It brings back such good memories and some good racing. These cars are amazing, and I feel like there is a lot of great talent out here.”
The Camping World SRX Series features world-class drivers from an array of motorsports backgrounds competing in identically prepared racecars on some of the most iconic short tracks in America. With five rounds in the books, the inaugural six-race series culminates with the season finale July 17 at the Nashville (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Speedway.
“I’m really happy for Marco, and Luke Fenhaus did an awesome job tonight. You’re going to hear a lot more about that kid. Seventeen years old and much more mature than that in a racecar,” said Ray Evernham, co-founder of the Camping World SRX Series. “You can’t overlook the talent that’s coming out of these short tracks across America. Every Saturday night, we need to go and support those short tracks so that talent like that can get to the big-time. I’m just proud of the way this series has been able to showcase the short tracks, the drivers, the crew chiefs. There’s a lot of talent out here on Friday and Saturday nights.
“Look at this crowd, they haven’t left. They want to come in here and see these cars, they want to see what’s going on, they’re chasing drivers for autographs and doing a lot of different things and they enjoyed it. So that tells me we’re doing something right. If the fans like it and they keep watching it on TV, then we’ll keep doing it.”
Deegan will rejoin the Camping World SRX Series at Nashville, and the season finale will also feature Chase Elliott.
Elliott is the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion and he will join his father, Bill Elliott, in the race that will air live at 8 p.m. EDT on the CBS Television Network and streamed on Paramount+ Premium.
Chase won the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship and Bill won the 1988 Cup Series title. They are just the third father-son combo to win Cup Series championships, joining the Pettys (Lee: 1954, 1958, 1959 and Richard: 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979) and the Jarretts (Ned: 1961, 1965 and Dale: 1999).
The lone time Chase and Bill competed together on the same track was on Oct. 20, 2013 in the Alabama Pro 125 Late Model race at South Alabama Speedway. Chase won and Bill finished fourth.
Marco Andretti outdueled local legend Luke Fenhaus on the final lap to win his first @SRXRacing race!
Relive all the crazy fast 1/4 mile action! ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/TSZvviAKr2
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) July 11, 2021
With five of six races now in the books, the season finale for SRX will take place next week at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Nashville Fairgrounds promises to send the inaugural season for SRX out with a bang, as defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion Chase Elliott will join the field at one of the most storied racetracks in the southeast.
Heat Race No. 1 (12 minutes, 30 laps):
Note: Starting lineup determined by random draw.
- Marco Andretti (Started 1st; led laps 1-30)
- Tony Stewart (Started 3rd; completed 30/30 laps)
- Luke Fenhaus (Started 7th; completed 30/30 laps)
- Bobby Labonte (Started 2nd; completed 30/30 laps)
- Helio Castroneves (Started 4th; completed 30/30 laps)
- Ernie Francis Jr. (Started 5th; completed 30/30 laps)
- Greg Biffle (Started 12th; completed 30/30 laps)
- Hailie Deegan (Started 6th; completed 30/30 laps)
- Michael Waltrip (Started 11th; completed 30/30 laps)
- Bill Elliott (Started 10th; completed 30/30 laps)
- Willy T. Ribbs (Started 9th; completed 30/30 laps)
- Paul Tracy (Started 8th; completed 27/30 laps)
Heat Race No. 2 (12 minutes, 29 laps):
Note: Drivers’ finishing positions in Heat Race No. 1 were inverted for start of Heat Race No. 2.
- Greg Biffle (Started 5th; led laps 19-29)
- Hailie Deegan (Started 4th; led laps 2-18; completed 29/29 laps)
- Ernie Francis Jr. (Started 6th; completed 29/29 laps)
- Luke Fenhaus (Started 9th; completed 29/29 laps)
- Tony Stewart (Started 10th; completed 29/29 laps)
- Helio Castroneves (Started 7th; completed 29/29 laps)
- Marco Andretti (Started 11th; completed 29/29 laps)
- Bobby Labonte (Started 8th; completed 29/29 laps)
- Willy T. Ribbs (Started 1st; led lap 1; completed 29/29 laps)
- Paul Tracy (Started 12th; completed 29/29 laps)
- Bill Elliott (Started 2nd; completed 29/29 laps)
- Michael Waltrip (Started 3rd; completed 3/29 laps)
Feature Results (151 laps):
Notes: Starting lineup was based on average finishing positions in Heat Race Nos. 1-2; Race extended one lap past its scheduled 150-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
- Marco Andretti (Started 1st; led laps 1-2, 6, 9, 11-12, 14-16, 20-21, 150-151)
- Luke Fenhaus (Started 2nd; led laps 3-5, 7-8, 10, 13, 17-19, 22-30, 32-53, 57, 60, 62-66, 71, 79-81, 84, 87-88, 104-114, 116, 123-128, 131-149; completed 151/151 laps)
- Tony Stewart (Started 3rd; led laps 31, 54-56, 58-59, 61, 67-70, 72-78, 82-83, 85-86, 89-103, 115, 117-122, 129-130; completed 151/151 laps)
- Hailie Deegan (Started 6th; completed 151/151 laps)
- Bobby Labonte (Started 7th; completed 151/151 laps)
- Ernie Francis Jr. (Started 5th; completed 151/151 laps)
- Willy T. Ribbs (Started 10th; completed 151/151 laps)
- Greg Biffle (Started 4th; completed 151/151 laps)
- Bill Elliott (Started 9th; completed 151/151 laps)
- Helio Castroneves (Started 8th; completed 151/151 laps)
- Paul Tracy (Started 12th; completed 148/151 laps)
- Michael Waltrip (Started 11th; completed 148/151 laps)
Camping World SRX Series Championship Standings (after Round 5 of 6):
- Tony Stewart (199 points)
- Ernie Francis Jr. (161 points, -38)
- Marco Andretti (155 points, -44)
- Bobby Labonte (145 points, -54)
- Helio Castroneves (140 points, -59)
- Tony Kanaan (139 points, -60)
- Michael Waltrip (93 points, -106)
- Paul Tracy (90 points, -109)
- Bill Elliott (66 points, -133)
- Willy T. Ribbs (63 points, -136)
Note: Points are awarded in both heats and the feature. In each heat, the winner receives a maximum of 12 points. Second place earns 11 points with every position in descending order receiving one fewer point, with the 12th-place finisher earning one point. Points increase in the feature, with the winner receiving 25 points, second place 22 points, third place 20 points, fourth place 18 points, fifth place 16 points, sixth place 14 points, seventh place 12 points, eighth place 10 points, ninth place eight points, 10th place six points, 11th place four points and 12th place two points