The first-ever Camping World SRX Series season is halfway complete. Doug Coby won the first event at Stafford Motor Speedway, followed by Tony Stewart winning the next two events at Knoxville Raceway and Eldora Speedway, respectively.
While only nine drivers are running in SRX full time, the series’ driver field could be expanded if it is renewed for a second season. If its field size is expanded, who are the five most deserving candidates that could make appearances in SRX events?
1. Todd Bodine
Nicknamed “The Onion,” Todd Bodine is a two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion as well as a 15-time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. At age 57, he’d fit in perfectly with the retired luminaries competing in this series.
Truck Series drivers are known for aggressive racing, some of which culminates in cautions; there have been at least 10 cautions in five of the 13 races thus far this year. While SRX aims for its drivers to complete the whole event in one car, it also wants hard driving in its events. Bodine could bring that mentality to the SRX series.
Additionally, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis previously agreed to sponsor Bodine if he came out of retirement to compete in the Truck Series again.
— Marcus Lemonis (@marcuslemonis) May 27, 2020
If Lemonis agreed to sponsor Bodine in the Truck Series, he could logically also welcome Bodine to SRX, which is also sponsored by Camping World. Bodine, the fifth-winningest driver in Truck Series history, would be a great selection for SRX.
2. Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya has arguably the most decorated resume of any professional racecar driver. He has won in Formula 1, NTT IndyCar Series and NASCAR Cup Series events, including a pair of Indianapolis 500 triumphs.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 24, 2015
Moreover, Montoya would bring further international flavor to SRX. A native of Bogota, Colombia, his international presence would add another dimension to the already prestigious field.
True, all of Montoya’s NASCAR wins – Cup and Xfinity – came on road courses, but that doesn’t diminish his talent. In his career, he scored three top-five finishes at three very different tracks: intermediate Atlanta Motor Speedway, superspeedway Talladega Superspeedway and road course Watkins Glen International. Those totals are the most top-fives he had at any venue. He also won the 2007 Cup Series Rookie of the Year Award.
Beyond Montoya’s signature Indy 500 wins, his NASCAR experience and his Formula 1 success, he was also a member of three Rolex 24 at Daytona events. As the SRX heats are timed, Montoya’s skillset at managing his equipment and knowing when to race hard would be an asset to him in SRX events.
The 45-year-old Montoya has won at ovals and road courses, a generational talent despite lacking dirt track experience. Achieving success in SRX would be another milestone in an outstanding racing career.
3. Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth hails from Cambridge, Wis., and Wisconsin is home to many racetracks, including Slinger Speedway, which hosts SRX on Saturday, July 10. The local track entrant for the series will be the winner of the Slinger Nationals just four days prior, so the 200 super late model race adds more excitement to its prestige. Kenseth is the winningest Slinger Nationals driver, winning it eight times – most recently in 2019.
A throwback to the 2019 Slinger Nationals pic.twitter.com/L834mrfJsj
— Racing Round Table (@RacingRT1) April 27, 2020
If Kenseth competes in this year’s Slinger Nationals, he’d instantly be the favorite. If he wins the Slinger Nationals, he’d arguably be one of the favorites to win the SRX event there.
Even aside from his prowess at Slinger, Kenseth is a well-deserving choice to compete in SRX full time. He won the 2003 Cup championship, a triumph that ushered in various iterations of NASCAR’s current playoff format due to Kenseth winning just one race that year. His remarkable consistency might prove to be an asset to SRX, which now sets its feature lineup by the best average finish of the first two heats.
Moreover, Kenseth is a 39-time Cup winner and a 29-time Xfinity winner. His combined 68 victories began in 1998 and stretched all the way through 2017, a winning career spanning almost 20 years, withstanding changes to the points, schedule and more.
Kenseth’s NASCAR career did end underwhelmingly. After he left Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017, Kenseth spent the final two years of his career running midpack with Roush Fenway Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing as a fill-in driver, unable to recapture his success in those rides.
In 2018, he drove the No. 6 Roush entry part-time, only managing two top 10s in 18 starts. Finally, in 2020, Kenseth replaced the fired Kyle Larson for Ganassi, but he only nabbed one top five and two top 10s in 32 starts.
If Kenseth joined the SRX circuit, it might be a redemption tour for him as he looks to add on to his already-storied racing career.
4. Jacques Villeneuve
Jacques Villeneuve doesn’t have as diverse of a racing resume as Montoya, but it is still impressive. Villeneuve won the 1995 Indianapolis 500, the 1995 CART/CCWS championship and the 1997 Formula 1 championship on the strength of seven victories, totaling 11 career F1 wins overall.
Villeneuve is also an outspoken driver, which might add even more personality to SRX. His fiery nature behind the wheel could also create more storylines, leaving his fellow competitors displeased yet amped to beat him in the next event.
The Canadian dabbled briefly in NASCAR, albeit without much success. He achieved four top fives and six top 10s in his Xfinity Series stint, all those occurring at road courses. But Villeneuve has raced at many track layouts throughout his career.
While NASCAR Hall of Famer Stewart has won the two most recent SRX events and currently leads the points, success in NASCAR is not a prerequisite to success in SRX. Coby won the first race without ever competing in a national NASCAR series event, and Truck Series rookie Hailie Deegan finished second in the Knoxville race without wins in NASCAR nor the ARCA Menards Series. The 50-year-old Villeneuve has ample experience and insight to adapt quickly to wheeling an SRX car around these courses.
5. Bobby Pierce
Bobby Pierce would be another excellent addition to the SRX driver lineup. He’d arguably be Stewart’s biggest competition on the dirt track events. Pierce also is recognizable to NASCAR fans, which would draw more fans of both dirt and NASCAR to SRX.
Pierce made eight Truck Series starts from 2015 to 2017, with one top-five and two top-10 finishes.
Most notably, Pierce earned his career-best finish of second place in the 2015 Truck Series race at Eldora, battling with Christopher Bell for much of the event. He electrified fans with his performance, running up front at Eldora in those Truck Series races while driving in underfunded equipment. Imagine how Pierce would fare in equal equipment at the SRX dirt events.
As a dirt track regular, Pierce has enjoyed a tremendous career thus far. With 212 career feature wins, three UMP DIRTcar National Championships and many other accolades, Pierce is a wheelman at any dirt track.
Another bonus Pierce would bring to SRX is his youth. He’s still only 24 years old while Coby is 41 years old, Stewart is 50 and many other regular competitors are older drivers. Pierce’s youth might attract younger fans to SRX while he still regularly competes at many dirt tracks. As SRX looks at its future beyond this year, cofounder Ray Evernham should consider adding a younger driver to keep the series relevant rather than simply sticking with retired drivers, however illustrious their careers are.