Story By: CODY MANMILLER / SHORT TRACK SUPER SERIES – FONDA, NY – Stewart Friesen continued his home-track domination with a $10,000 victory at the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By Sunoco ‘Firecracker 50’ at the Fonda Speedway on Sunday night.
Friesen, who is No. 1 on the all-time STSS win list with 35 career triumphs, captured his 82nd win at the ‘Track of Champions,’ advancing from his seventh starting spot, and finishing ahead of 10th-place starter Matt Sheppard and Mat Williamson.
“It feels so great to be back at Fonda,” Friesen, of Sprakers, N.Y., said with a smile. “We had some timely cautions because I didn’t want to reach lapped traffic so we could stay in clean air and keep Sheppard at bay.”
Despite coming from seventh, Friesen passed Williamson for the lead on lap 13.
“We were able to make some moves early on and get to the front pretty quickly,” Friesen mentioned in Victory Lane. “Obviously, that was key.”
Williamson led after drawing No. 1, ahead of Danny Creeden, Alex Yankowski, Chris Curtis and Demetrios Drellos. Just four laps in, Yankowski was forced to the pits with smoke and Friesen went to work on the restart.
On lap seven, Friesen muscled around Drellos on the top for the runner-up spot and began his hunt of Williamson. Meanwhile, Rocky Warner was quickly battling for a top-five spot after starting back in 11th.
Back up front, when Williamson began dealing with slower traffic, Friesen made his move. On lap 12, the Halmar International No. 44 inched beneath Williamson and quickly drove away in traffic.
A three-car battle for fourth emerged when Warner and Sheppard closed on Creeden on lap 17. Entering turn one, Warner wedged his car under Creeden for fourth and Sheppard followed down the backstretch. Sheppard wasted little time and passed Warner off of turn four, bouncing from sixth to fourth in just a lap.
Just two laps later, Sheppard ate up a deficit to Drellos and then moved under him for a podium spot on lap 20 while Creeden and Warner’s battle raged on for fourth.
The next caution flag flew at the halfway point just as Sheppard started to work on Williamson. On the restart, though, Sheppard used the bottom to take the runner-up spot from the pole sitter, ahead of Warner and Drellos.
For the remainder of the race, Savannah, N.Y.’s Sheppard tried to cut into Friesen’s lead, but as soon as the duo reached the back of the field, the caution flew to keep Friesen in clean air.
“We had a really good car tonight,” Sheppard said on the home stretch. “It took me about five laps to get going after a caution, we just needed a longer green flag run at the end of the race.
“Sometimes you get the cautions when you want, sometimes you don’t, but it was another really, really solid night for our team,” Sheppard added.
Williamson, of St. Catharines, Ont., settled for third and a spot on the podium, an improved performance for him at Fonda.
“We are getting there,” Williamson said. “We are getting better every time we come here, but this is a good adjustment for the race for $53,000 at the end of the year.
“It’s not too bad to end up on the podium with Stew and Matt … This place is basically Stew’s personal bank account,” Williamson joked in front of a sizable holiday crowd.
Wurtsboro, N.Y.’s Creeden, who entered the evening fourth in the River Valley Builders North Region standings, managed another consistent fourth-place finish, keeping pace with Sheppard and Williamson, who sit first and second, respectively.
Gloversville, N.Y.’s Warner, after starting 11th and was in the thick of some major battles inside the top five, wound up fifth at his home track, his first STSS top five of the season.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were: Chris Curtis, who capitalized on a fourth-place starting spot for his career best STSS finish; Tim Fuller, who quietly settled into seventh after starting outside the fourth row; ninth-place starter Bobby Varin worked his way to an eighth-place result; big mover Nick Heywood impressed many with a stout performance, battling from 19th to ninth after 50 laps; and Anthony Perrego, who qualified through the B-Main and started back in 27th, rounded out the top 10 as the BDR Speed $250 Hard Charger.
A mighty 45-Modified field entered the Fonda Speedway pits on Sunday.
FloRacing heat winners were Yankowski, Creeden, Varin, Friesen and Fuller. Frank Cozze and Roger Henion Jr. split the consolations.
Up next for the STSS is the ‘Richie Evans Remembered’ at N.Y.’s Utica-Rome Speedway on Thursday, July 21 with a 61-lap STSS Modified event paying $6,100 to win (River Valley Builders North Region Round No. 7) and a 25-lap, $1,500-to-win Crate 602 Sportsman main (Precision Hydraulic & Oil North Region Round No. 5).
STSS MODIFIED FEATURE – 50-laps – $10,000 to win – STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Shepard, Mat Williamson, Danny Creeden, Rocky Warner, Chris Curtis, Tim Fuller, Bobby Varin, Nick Heywood, Anthony Perrego, Max McLaughlin, Bobby Hackel IV, Rich Christman, Mike Mahaney, David Schilling, Roger Henion Jr., JR Hurlburt, Daniel Morgiewicz, Randy Green, Michael Trautschold, Neil Stratton, Demetrious Drellos, Kyle Coffey, Billy Decker, Marc Johnson, Keith Flach, Brian Gleason, Andy Bachetti, Alex Yankowski, Matt DeLorenzo, Frank Cozze
3rd win of 2022 and the 82nd of his career in the division at Fonda for Friesen
LAP LEADERS – 1-12 Williamson, 13-50 Friesen
HEAT RACE WINNERS – Yankowski, Creeden, Varin, Friesen, Fuller
CONSOLATION RACE WINNERS – Cozze, Henion
DID NOT QUALIFY – Randy Shantel, JaMike Sowle, Craig Hanson, Jack Lehner, Ronnie Johnson, Darwin Greene, Robert Bublak, Dave Constantino, Justin Wright, Ray Zemken, Bill August, Jessica Friesen, Tucker O’Connor, Brock Pinkerous