It was a season and a half in the making, but Bobby Labonte finally earned his first-ever Superstar Racing Experience win at the 2022 race at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

As reported on the CBS broadcast, Labonte won in Nashville at the Busch Grand National Series competition nearly 10,000 days before Saturday night, July 9. With the 2022 triumph, he also became the oldest rider to win in SRX and finished in the top five in all events in 2022.

“I didn’t run very well in training,” Labonte said after the race. “I told Tony [Stewart], I was like, ‘I think maybe I’m just running the wrong line.’ So generally I try to shoot and go fast, I feel like I have a lot of confidence. I didn’t, but I will say I just followed Josef [Newgarden] there early and a few of these other guys.

“[…] These guys in this SRX group, all these men and women, you won’t believe how hard they work to bring these cars to the track week after week. […] We had a great evening, we had a lot of fun and I can’t believe I won one.

Few rivaled No. 18’s excellence all night, and Marco Andretti and Matt Kenseth completed the podium – the latter in his very first appearance on the show. Much like the heat races, the top starters held: Labonte and Andretti started on the front row and finished as such.

“It’s like, ‘I just don’t think I’m ever going to win, I’m going to finish third or fifth,'” Labonte added. “My nephew, Justin Labonte, his kid won a quarter-midget race on our quarter-midget track, so I had a little pressure on me today. He won $385, so I may have beaten him now, but I’m pretty excited.

“[…] I just thought I wasn’t going to win. I thought, ‘I’m not going to win.’ It’s so intimidating with these pilots, I tell you. I get nervous, I’ll throw up with 10 to do, like ‘Oh my God, more precautions’, Marco and Paul [Tracy] and all those guys. Josef comes here and runs so well and has never done this before, they are so good. So I just think, ‘man,’ I see Matt Kenseth coming up and I’ve seen this story before, and I’m like, ‘oh my God, there he is.’ It’s so hard, it’s not easy – maybe I made it look a little easy tonight, but it wasn’t easy.

Things got underway on time despite some cloudy walls to the north, but no rain impacted the course of the race. The green flag flew after an invocation by Pastor Joe Nelms, famous for his invocation before the 2011 Nationwide Series race in Nashville.

Newgarden was involved in both incidents of the night, as he spun into the wall for the first warning of the incident, then later tangled with Tony Kanaan and hit the wall again. A late restart posed a threat to Labonte in the form of Andretti’s No. 98, and the two battered and bumped for nearly an entire lap before Labonte was able to clear his competitor again.

Stewart had issues during the heats and it didn’t look like the team had fixed the problem, and he mostly rode the back of the field all night.

Tracy finished fourth, while Helio Castroneves finished fifth with significant damage to his car.

Last week’s winner Ryan Newman finished sixth, while Newgarden came in seventh despite the multiple incidents he was caught in.

Rounding out the top 10 are Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Stewart finished 11th, Cole Williams, winner of the local late model fan vote, 12th and Kanaan 13th.

The race also marked the reunion of former Roush Racing teammates Kenseth and Biffle.

Heat a

Little change from start to finish in the opening heat, with Newgarden leading flag to flag en route to victory. Castroneves finished second after starting second, making him a 1-2 IndyCar veteran at green flags and checkered.

heat two

Late model fan vote winner Williams led the field to the green after the pitch reversal and, like Newgarden, won from the post. Andretti followed him, while Stewart encountered mechanical problems and Castroneves suffered contact damage from Hunter-Reay.

Next up for SRX is the penultimate event of the 2022 season, to be held at I-55 Raceway in Missouri. The 0.333-mile dirt track hosts series regulars, plus Kenseth, Kanaan, Hailie Deegan and Ken Schrader, next Saturday at 7 p.m. with coverage on CBS.

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