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Ryan Newman wants to be a hero or a villain or anything in a six-race superstar racing experience. He plans to be himself in the Saturday night summer series that combines grassroots racing with big guys who focus on their time.

“I’m hard to pass’ so I think I’ll continue that role,” Newman said. “I’m not sure what anyone plans.”

The Tony Stewart-Headline series was a resounding success on six Saturday nights last summer, capturing CBS Dead Period for live programming and filling it with SRX. Nearly 1 million viewers tune in every week to watch the Stars Race against ringers and guest drivers on classic local tracks.

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Storylines were developed from the first event – SRX reviewed viewer feedback and made visual changes to the broadcast for better viewing – and opened for each rule and regulatory evaluation. The show has seemed a bit unfocused in recent episodes, however;

So, when the SRX opens at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, if the formation of Newman Saturday night is true, the Daytona 500 winner at Tracy Crosshire may be next. Deacon, as it turned out, was not on the field until the third race.

“I usually don’t pick on my defense,” Newman said of those who struggle to get him on track. “I try to be consistent across the board.”

SRX welcomes both Newman and Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Ray into their second season, after former IndyCar teammate Marco Andretti took the opportunity after seeing them thrive in a relaxed environment. Short tracks are new to many drivers in the field and the open-wheel stars have never driven cars like Ray Evernham designed for the SRX, so each week is a learning experience.

“It’s really a big opportunity to try something completely different, and it’s really been fun,” Hunter-Ray said. “I watched the races last year and the drivers seemed to really enjoy it and when you saw the names crossing the ticker you knew it was a superstar lineup and I wanted to be a part of it.”

SRX welcomes Nashville local and two-time Indicar champion Joseph Newgarden to the field at the Nashville Fairgrounds next month, and NASCAR star Ryan Blaney will face his father Dave at the conclusion on July 23 at Sharon Speedway in Ohio.

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There are materials for a second successful summer for SRX, which broke up with co-founder Evernham. Championship-winner NASCAR crew messed up the series with Chief Stewart, and then created race cars and operated them last summer. He is now the only investor in SRX.

The race has been going on since July last year when SRX ratings were surprisingly high.  (Photo by Logan Reilly / SRX by Getty Images)

The race has been going on since July last year when SRX ratings were surprisingly high. (Photo by Logan Reilly / SRX by Getty Images)

In January the SRX board named industry executive Dan Hawk as its first chief executive. The series is backed by Montag Group CEO Sandy Montag and Bruin Capital CEO George Pine, who want to continue their success in the opening season.

“I thought last year’s production was great, a lot of major changes, racing was great, we had different winners,” Pine said. “If you take racing from it, it’s a series that can be played with Michael Jordan LeBron James and in an affordable setup. It’s a little easier in the second year because when we started, no one knew what the SRX was, and I think we did a good job and wanted to continue it.”

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Montag agrees that there is a fine line between providing viewers with the dramatic performance they expect and asking on social media.

“Sports are really fun, and because everything and all the negative things happening in the world are happening, people are turning to us for Saturday night entertainment and we can not forget that,” Montag said. “I think we are serving our fans and if we get some good, vague advice, we are not too proud not to take anything like that and change it in some way.”