RPW Column: Tim McCreadie & Stewart Friesen Gave Modified Fans Plenty To Cheer For Tuesday Night

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – OCALA, FL – While the class of the field in Tuesday night’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at Bubba Raceway Park appeared to be winner Shane Clanton, and the driver to watch was Jonathan Davenport who drove from 17th to sixth in the feature, Northeast Modified fans had plenty to cheer about thanks to Tim McCreadie and Stewart Friesen.

Both McCreadie and Friesen had strong showings at the D-shaped Ocala, FL oval. McCreadie brought his #39 Longhorn home in the fourth spot while Friesen had a complete night. He time trialed well, won his heat race, qualified for his first career Series feature and came home with a solid seventh.

Each driver set themselves up for a good night of racing early on during time trials. McCreadie timed fourth in group A while Friesen surprised many by clocking in second in group B.

Then came the heats.

While last year’s Series runner-up McCreadie had a second place effort to Bobby Pierce in heat two, it was Friesen who wowed those in attendance in the fourth and final heat. After starting on the pole, he fell back to second but drove by leader Dennis Erb Jr. with a couple laps remaining and captured the victory.

You could tell it seemed like a big weight was lifted from the shoulders of the NASCAR Truck Series regular as he had finally qualified for a Late Model event, and quite handily, in the process.

“It’s been a tough couple of races down here (in Florida) but we’re having a lot of fun with it,” Friesen said. “It’s been a cool ride the last couple of weeks and we’re starting to turn things around.”

Friesen appeared to be able to use his recent experience at Bubba Raceway Park, while running his Modified with the Short Track Super Series, to his advantage on Tuesday night.

“Absolutely, that helped me a ton,” he said. “It was tough going to East Bay with the Late Model and not really knowing the lay of the land. Having those two races here with the Modified really helped with the late model.”

Come feature time, both drivers ran in the top 10 the entirety of the 40-lap event. Friesen started fourth and was as high as third at one point before sliding back to seventh at the finish.

McCreadie, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. He started in seventh and worked his way to a solid fourth, behind Clanton, Pierce and Tanner English, when all was said and done. It was T-Mac’s fourth top five finish in the last six tour races.

Is he happy with how Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Speedweeks went and how his 2021 has started for his team?

“It could have gone a lot worse,” McCreadie said. “We started off with some engine issues and then wrote a car off at East Bay. It began bad but everybody on this Paylor Motorsports team battled and we got things rolling.”

Does he think the team is heading in the right direction?

“We’re consistent right now so that’s cool,” he said. “But we want to win. That’s probably the most important thing on our team…try and get the money. We’ll move on to the next race and just keep plugging away.”

After the race in the Friesen pit area, the Sprakers, NY driver was all smiles as he had collected his first career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series top 10.

“It was nice to make our first A-Main, finally,” Friesen said. “We’ve had a lot of fun the last few weeks learning this Late Model game and it felt good to finally get in the show.”

For Stewart and the Halmar team, it was a big shot in the arm to have such a good night from start to finish.

“We had a good time trial run and a real solid night,” he said. “We’re going to do the (Late Model) North Florida (Speedway) races and then it’s on to Volusia.”

When it gets to the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia, will fans get to see him pull double duty, running both the DIRTcar Modified and his Late Model?

“I think we’ll just do the Modified at Volusia, but, you never know,” he said with a smirk. “We’ll see how the next few days go and decide from there.”

Friesen’s trip to North Florida Speedway is for the inaugural Frost Buster Friday and Saturday night. The first night will pay $8,000-to-win while the finale has a $10,000 top prize.

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