Story By: CHRIS MOORE / SHORT TRACK SUPER SERIES – FONDA, NY – Three-for-three. For the third consecutive year, Sprakers, N.Y.’s Stewart Friesen captured the Fuccillo Autoplex of Nelliston ‘Firecracker 50’ at Fonda Speedway.
Friesen furthered his title as the winningest driver in the history of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco. The $10,000-plus victory marked his 29th career STSS victory.
The win pulled Friesen closer to the top of the STSS Hurlock Auto & Speed North Region standings as well, after his rough start at Accord (N.Y.) Speedway in May.
“This is one of our biggest races of the year and we try really hard for this one; just a great racecar tonight,” proclaimed Friesen in Victory Lane.
“We tweaked at it all night, and we freed it up just enough that we just rolled well through the corners.”
Friesen fired from the third position, with Johnstown, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner and Savannah, N.Y.’s Matt Sheppard occupied the front row following the Beyea Custom Headers redraw.
At the drop of STSS starter Joe Kriss’ green flag, it was Sheppard who quickly darted out to the early lead, setting a torrid pace for the rest of the field to maintain.
By lap six, Sheppard had caught lap traffic, allowing Warner to close in, while Friesen fought tooth-and-nail for third with King Ferry, N.Y., native Mike Mahaney. Mahaney’s bid was cut short however, as he brought out the yellow for a flat tire, bunching the field back together.
Following Mahaney’s issue, a series of cautions ensued, which was all Friesen needed to advance to the lead. On the lap-six restart, Friesen raced to the inside of Warner to take second away before another yellow flew for Mooresville, N.C.’s Max McLaughlin, who suffered a right-rear flat tire on the Norm Hansell No. 357.
The lap-seven restart saw Sheppard and Friesen on the front row. Sheppard chose the outside, giving Friesen the bottom. The two went side-by-side into turn one, and Friesen executed a perfect slide job, putting his Halmar International No. 44 to the front of the field.
While Friesen paced the field, Decker, who had risen to fourth before fading on a restart following contact with the turn-one wall, was driving back forward. He joined Mike Gular of Boyertown, Pa., and East Greenbush, N.Y.’s David Schilling in a battle for a top five spot.
Schilling, however, would join Mahaney and Alan Johnson as drivers racing in the top five, encountering trouble. Schilling’s misfortune put Decker back into the fourth spot on lap 14.
The race saw its first long green-flag run following the lap-14 yellow, and on lap 31, Schilling was involved again, this time as a lap car with now second-place running Warner. Warner went off on a tow truck, ending his bid at grabbing his first career STSS triumph.
One more yellow on lap 41 gave Sheppard and Decker one more chance, but Friesen’s dominance at the Track of Champions was not to be denied. Friesen led the final 43 laps, comfortably claiming his third consecutive ‘Firecracker 50.’
Decker, of Sidney, N.Y., piloted his Jeremy Smith-owned No. 91 to a runner-up finish, while Sheppard rounded out the podium in his Hurlock Auto & Speed No. 9s. Ontario’s Mat Williamson climbed from 17th to fourth in the Behrent’s Performance Warehouse No. 3 and Gular rounded out the top-five in the Terry Fasnacht-owned No. 2A.
Middletown, N.Y.’s Anthony Perrego brought his Brian Smith-owned No. 44 home sixth after starting 22nd. Sheffield, Mass., native Andy Bachetti was the Upstate Auto Hard Charger, claiming $250 for coming from 27th starting position to seventh. Sprakers, N.Y.’s Jessica Friesen finished eighth in her One Zee Tee’s No. 1Z. Covington Township, Pa.’s Alex Yankowski brought the family-owned No. 84y home ninth and Johnstown, N.Y.’s Josh Hohenforst rounded out the top-10 in his Apollo Northeast No. 6H.
Heat winners, receiving $50 each from FloRacing were Craig Hanson, Adam McAuliffe, Decker and Mahaney. The consolation races went to Yankowski and Perrego.
Forty-one STSS Modifieds took part in the program.
FIRECRACKER FODDER: A massive crowd took in the third running of the ‘Firecracker’ event with 90 cars filling the pit area in just two divisions. The 50/50 winner took home a massive $6,423….
Third-place finisher Matt Sheppard elected not to utilize sail panels after struggling with sail panels at Fonda Speedway in the past….
Majestic Fireworks put on a huge display at the conclusion of the night’s racing….
Racing resumes for the STSS on Wednesday, July 14 at the all-new Bloomsburg (Pa.) Fair Raceway for the ‘Battle at Bloomsburg’ featuring the fifth event of the Hurlock Auto & Speed North Region for the Modifieds (50 laps, $5,000 to win, $1,000 for 10th & $400 to start) and the third Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region Crate 602 Sportsman event (25 laps, $1,500 to win, $100 to start).
This event marks the first-ever events for both the Modified and Crate 602 Sportsman divisions on the recently built oval on the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds.
Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series Fueled By Sunoco Hurlock Auto & Speed Supply North Region Event No. 4 Modified Feature Finish (50 laps): STEWART FRIESEN, Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard, Mat Williamson, Mike Gular, Anthony Perrego, Andy Bachetti, Jessica Friesen, Alex Yankowski, Josh Hohenforst, Max McLaughlin, J.R. Hurlburt, JaMike Sowle, Billy Van Pelt, Brett Haas, George Foley, Tyler Dippel, Craig Hanson, Rocky Warner, David Schilling, Pep Corradi, Joe Judge, Dave Constantino, Mike Mahaney, Bobby Hackel IV, Ronnie Johnson, Adam McAuliffe, Alan Johnson, Bobby Varin, Jack Lehner.
Did Not Qualify: Steve Akers, Ryan Susice, E.J. McAuliffe, Kurt Hundeland, Ancel Collins, Aaron Jacobs, Shane Jablonka, Ray Zemken, Michael Trautschold, Kyle Coffey, Rich Christman.
Hazer’s World Lap Money ($500 Total): Matt Sheppard ($80); Stewart Friesen ($70); Billy Decker ($50); Mike Gular ($60); Rocky Warner ($60); Mat Williamson ($50); Anthony Perrego ($40); Jessica Friesen ($40); David Schilling ($20); Mike Mahaney ($10); Alan Johnson ($10); Craig Hanson ($10); Andy Bachetti ($10)
American Racer/Lias Tire Bonuses (FREE Tire Certificates): Jessica Friesen (eighth) & JaMike Sowle (13th)
Autism Awareness Winner’s Award presented by Halmar ($250): Stewart Friesen
Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Bonuses: Mat Williamson (fourth) & Alex Yankowski (ninth)
Beyea Custom Headers Redraw Bonus ($50): JaMike Sowle (Redrew 12th)
Design for Vision/Sunglass Central Award (Oakley Sunglasses): Stewart Friesen (winner)
FloRacing Heat Winner Bonuses ($50): Craig Hanson, Adam McAuliffe, Billy Decker & Mike Mahaney
Henry’s Exhaust System Bonus ($50 Certificate): Max McLaughlin (11th)
Penske Racing Shocks Bonuses: Stewart Friesen ($150 Certificate – first); Billy Decker ($75 Certificate – second); Matt Sheppard ($50 Certificate – third); Josh Hohenforst ($25 Certificate – 10th)
Prime MAC Tools Hard Luck Award (Hand Tool Set): Bobby Varin
Spyder High Performance Filters Bonuses: Mike Gular (FREE Filter – fifth); Brett Haas (50-percent Certificate – 15th)
Sunoco Race Fuels/Insinger Performance Bonuses ($50 Certificates): Billy Decker (second); J.R. Hurlburt (12th); Joe Judge (22nd)
Superior Remodeling Halfway Leader Bonus ($200): Stewart Friesen
TKS Painting Front-Row Bonuses: Rocky Warner (Pole – $50); Matt Sheppard (Outside Pole – $25)
Upstate Auto Hard Charger Award ($250): Andy Bachetti (27th to seventh)
Wilwood Brakes Lucky 7 Bonus ($75 Certificate): Andy Bachetti (seventh)