Story By: MICHELINA FRISS / DIRTCAR – WEEDSPORT, NY – Back-to-back runner-up finishes in the first two races of the season set Stewart Friesen atop the Super DIRTcar Series standings, but his hunger for more still remained.
He showed up to Weedsport Speedway Sunday night and took a big bite out of the competition, leading all but 17 laps of the Heroes Remembered 100 for his second tour victory of the year.
After a solid lap in My Place Hotels Qualifying that set him third on the Heat Race grid, Friesen was bested only by Mike Mahaney, of King’s Ferry, NY – a foreshadowing of the night’s Feature race, with a slightly different outcome. Friesen redrew fifth for the Feature, setting him up for a dominant run to the point in the first 100-lap feature of the season, where his Halmar International #44 proved to be up to the challenge of endurance.
“The Halmar team made a lot of adjustments and they paid off,” Friesen said.
“Not a lot of times you throw the kitchen sink at it and you come away with something better. Sometimes you gotta go too far and you have to back off. Just some stuff we wanted to try, we tried tonight, and it was good. The car was really good. It was maneuverable. It was a little bit on the tight side but we’ll take it.”
After a quick caution thrown four laps in, Friesen had already moved up a spot into fourth, trailing Adam Pierson, Matt Sheppard and Erick Rudolph. He continued his steady climb in the running order, taking over the lead by Lap 18, and never relinquished the lead for the remainder of the race.
The turnout of Big Block Modified drivers was plentiful, with 51 drivers officially registering. Twenty-eight drivers started the Feature, which tested the leaders and their ability to navigate through traffic. Friesen kept a steady hand in the multiple tests he endured throughout 100 laps.
“It was fun honestly,” Friesen said. “It forced me to move around the track and find some lines and keep my momentum up.”
“I kind of got the lead on the bottom and then I’m like, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep the bottom for all 100 laps and it pay off. But I tried to keep the tires under me the best I could. And then in the lap traffic we had a really great race car, so big thanks to the Halmar team.”
Mahaney drew a hard hand pulling the tenth position in the redraw. After some difficulty during the first 25 laps, he was able to fight his way into fifth position by Lap 51. He refused to settle as his climb continued, taking over second place with 14 laps remaining. But it was the night for #44 to shine, as Mahaney crossed the finish line second.
“It was too little too late. This car’s really fast, and I’m really happy to get to second. We worked and worked and worked, but we couldn’t get any cautions,” Mahaney said.
“There were a lot of guys racing for position who were lapping. There was racing all over the place on this track. It was a really nice, slick track. You could go anywhere.”
Third place finisher Erick Rudolph, of Ransomville, NY held the second position trying to keep up with Friesen for over 40 laps. But he couldn’t hold on anymore when Mahaney slipped by him on lap 87, pushing him into third.
“About the mid-point of the race I thought I had the best car, I was catching Stewie a little,” Rudolph said. “But the last three laps I was just hanging on. He started pulling away from me and I struggled in traffic and Mike slipped by me. It was a good effort though.”
Defending Super DIRTcar Series champion Matt Sheppard finished outside of the podium in fourth. He led nine of the first 20 laps before being passed by Mahaney on Lap 66. Like his competition, any attempts to advance was met with the need to navigate through heavy congestion, which contributed to keeping him off of the podium for the night.
UP NEXT: The Super DIRTcar Series travels east bound to Lebanon Valley Speedway for the King of the Spring 100 on Monday, May 30.
RESULTS: Feature (100 Laps):
44-Stewart Friesen; 2. 35-Mike Mahaney; 3. 25R-Erick Rudolph; 4. 9S-Matt Sheppard; 5. 99L-Larry Wight; 6. 8H-Max McLaughlin; 7. 37S-Gary Lindberg; 8. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 9. 88-Mat Williamson; 10. 2L-Jack Lehner; 11. 83X-Tim Sears Jr;12. 32R-Ronnie Davis III; 13. 4-Anthony Perrego; 14. 21A-Peter Britten; 15. 215PAdam Pierson; 16. 91-Billy Decker; 17. 60-Jackson Gill; 18. 84Y-Alex Yankowski; 19.3RS-Ryan Susice; 20. 3H-Justin Haers; 21. 3J-Marc Johnson; 22. 12S-Darren 23. (DNF) 9X-Tyler Trump; 24. (DNF) 49-Billy Dunn; 25. (DNF) 34-Kevin Root; 26. (DNF) 2A-Mike Gular; 27. (DNF) 17-Marcus Dinkins; 28. (DNF) X-Chad Phelps