The fourth race of the Camping World SRX Series over the weekend wrapped up in dramatic fashion: 23-year-old Ernie Francis Jr., an underdog relative in the a series, took a thrilling victory by defeating NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bobby Labonte in an impressive final. It was Francis’ first SRX win, and it moved him to second place in the SRX standings behind the leader Tony Stewart.
“Man, I’m totally speechless, that’s unbelievable” Francis He said after the race. “I ended up with a few donuts on the car, but man, he couldn’t be happier with them, so amazing.”
The race was held at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. Francis made steady progress through most of the race, but things got interesting in the end, when several restarts gave the competitors a chance to change the offside order. Scott Speed, who had the lead on the first 11 laps, made a late run in the race and finished third at the end dueling Lapont and Francis for the last two laps, with Francis overtaking him by just 0.649 of a second.
It was an impressive win, especially since Labonte has decades of experience behind the wheel and first-hand knowledge of Lucas Oil Speedway. He raced there three times as a NASCAR driver, including a win in 1991.
Francis’ win cut a two-race winning streak for Tony Stewart (Stuart’s last win was in Dirt path in Eldora). However, Stewart does not appear to have any hard feelings, and said he was impressed with the young driver’s performance on Saturday.
“Ernie,” he said, “was a night from hell.” “This kid has learned so much in such a short time. He has been one of the most consistent players in the world, and from the first night of training, he has taken time, gained speed and gotten better and better. There is a reason he is here. He deserves to be here.”
The racing heat will get hotter as we get into the tail end of the SRX series. The second-to-last event of the six-race series will take place on July 10 at Slinger Speedway in Wisconsin, where Francis will have the opportunity to challenge Stewart for the series title.
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