Ernie Francis Jr. Is ‘One Of The Coolest Stories’ Of SRX Racing Series Says James Hinchcliffe Entering Final Race At Nashville

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(CBS Local)- Hard to judge but the inaugural play of the Camping World SRX bid comes to a adjacent this play astatine Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Through 5 races, there’s been plentifulness of excitement and astir each operator has been successful contention astatine 1 constituent oregon another. And, the bid has fixed a prima crook to 1 young driver.

23-year-old Ernie Francis Jr. volition participate Saturday’s contention 38 points down Tony Stewart for the apical spot successful the championship. Theoretically, helium could overtake Stewart this weekend, though that would look improbable fixed that helium tin gain a maximum of 49 points if helium wins some heats and the diagnostic race. Still, careless of the wide outcome, Francis Jr. has gotten the spotlight connected the bid which tin present pb to immoderate large opportunities.

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“I deliberation this is 1 of the coolest stories of the full championship. The full conception of SRX was to instrumentality the heroes and the legends of their respective categories,” CBS Sports SRX bid expert James Hinchcliffe said of Francis Jr. “While connected 1 hand, yea he’s already established and a fable successful his ain series, he’s inactive lone 23 and inactive has a batch of aspirations and goals successful the sport. This conscionable enactment him beforehand and halfway against immoderate of the champion that person ever been. He’s ne'er raced connected ovals, ne'er raced connected ungraded and each week we spell to a caller way and he’s close connected the pace, and warring for podiums and wins. What’s truthful chill is you instrumentality this title that was comprised of guys you deliberation are successful the twilight of their vocation but it’s highlighted a young operator that inactive has a agleam aboriginal successful beforehand of him and opened up immoderate large opportunities for him.”

Francis isn’t unsocial successful presumption of young drivers getting immoderate radiance from the series. Last week saw 17-year-old Luke Fenhaus decorativeness 2nd conscionable days aft winning Slinger Nationals. 19-year-old motortruck bid operator Hailie Deegan has enactment successful beardown performances successful each contention she’s been progressive in.

Though the youngsters person gotten a batch of the shine, 1 of the legends has besides brought plentifulness of amusement and astatine times, hostility to the races: Paul Tracy.

“Paul came into this title with the moniker of the ‘bad boy’ and the chrome horn estimation from his days successful IndyCar truthful I deliberation helium had radical with an oculus connected him careless and possibly helium was a spot much nether a microscope than different drivers would person been,” Hinchcliffe said. “But, it does look similar he’s been a magnet for incidents whether you tin pin them connected him oregon thing you tin pin connected idiosyncratic else. He conscionable seems to ever beryllium wherever the enactment 1 mode oregon another. I cognize it’s gotten to a constituent wherever it’s frustrated him a small spot but I’m not going to prevarication it’s large for the story, large for the show.”

Tracy was progressive successful much bumps and bruises past week astatine Slinger, starring to a post-race backmost and distant with Deegan with neither peculiarly thrilled with the other’s driving. All successful all, the hard racing from Tracy has brought a chiseled constituent to the bid that Hinchcliffe has enjoyed.

As for the antheral connected the apical of the standings heading into the weekend, that would beryllium co-founder Tony Stewart who’s back-to-back wins successful the ungraded person him sitting successful premier presumption to triumph the inaugural bid championship.

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“Let’s enactment it this way, I’m not a betting man, but I cognize who I’d beryllium putting my title bets connected and it’s the feline successful the 14,” Hinchcliffe said.

While the play agelong trophy mightiness beryllium retired of reach, this week’s contention is precise overmuch up for grabs. Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway was a regular NASCAR Cup Series halt from 1958-1984 and was a halt connected the past Busch (now Xfinity) Series from 1984-2000. Several drivers successful the regular lineup person tally connected the way but the 1 with the astir caller experience? This week’s ringer and defending NASCAR Cup Series champ, Chase Elliott.

“The ringers person really been precise competitory each azygous week and it’s been amusive to person that arsenic portion of the series. I deliberation honestly, the feline that mightiness person the astir caller acquisition is Chase Elliott. He won a contention backmost successful 2013 truthful his cognition of the way and his acquisition is possibly a small fresher than dad’s oregon Michael Waltrip’s would be. So it’s going to beryllium interesting,” Hinchcliffe said. “He evidently doesn’t person 5 weeks of racing these cars nether his loop but if you look astatine his docket he’s doing 3 races successful the 3 nights starring up to Saturday and past evidently racing successful the Cup cars connected Sunday truthful spot clip has decidedly not been abbreviated for young Chase truthful it’s going to beryllium amusive to ticker him arsenic well.”

Bringing successful the defending Cup Series champ to contention against his dada and the remainder of the tract is conscionable 1 of the galore moves that Hinchcliffe has been impressed to spot co-founder Ray Evernham marque this season.

“Ray and the radical person done specified a large occupation for these cars to beryllium race-able everyplace we go. I’m not going to lie, there’s been a mates of tracks we’ve pulled up to and I thought, ‘yeah this is astir apt going to beryllium a 1 lane place, whitethorn not beryllium the astir enactment packed contention unless guys are getting into each different and utilizing bumpers’ and that truly conscionable hasn’t been the case,” Hinchcliffe said. “We’ve seen with the objection of possibly 1 track, the precocious enactment travel successful beauteous overmuch everywhere. We’ve seen a batch of bully broadside by broadside action. So, it’s conscionable a testament to the enactment Ray Evernham and everyone connected his squad person done to get these cars successful a spot wherever they tin race. Whether it’s a half-mile ungraded way oregon asphalt way we’ve had a batch of bully races.”

With a title connected the enactment and different ringer joining the fold arsenic the play wraps up Hinchcliffe’s anticipation for this week’s contention is simply a elemental one.

“The cardinal is conscionable to person fun. That’s existent for the radical moving the series, the drivers themselves, the radical connected the broadcast. This 1 is conscionable astir having fun, going retired successful style. I deliberation the SRX experimentation has been a tremendous occurrence and everyone tin spell and bask themselves and beryllium arrogant of the effort that everyone has enactment successful truthful far,” Hinchcliffe said.

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The Camping World SRX bid takes connected Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway connected Saturday, July 17 with sum opening astatine 8 p.m. Eastern Time connected CBS and streaming connected Paramount+.

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