Friesen Finds His Groove At Volusia
BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Stewart Friesen found his groove yesterday, Thursday, February, 21, in the second of four Super DIRTcar Series feature races during UNOH DIRTcar Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment, and that groove took him all the way to victory lane.
“I was able to roll in the middle, I was good on the bottom, good on the top,” Friesen said of driving on the track at Volusia Speedway Park. “We had a really balanced car, which is key.”
Friesen, a two-time VP Small Engine Fuels 200 Champion, was off to a slow start earlier in the week, breaking the top 20 in only one of three timed practice sessions Tuesday. His performance improved Wednesday, and has continued to improve Thursday. He hot lapped strongly at the sixth fastest time overall and placed second in his heat, carrying the momentum through the checkered flag.
“We worked really hard on the car; we had a couple problems in the practice session Tuesday and we worked them out yesterday in the feature,” Friesen said. “We made some good adjustments to the car.”
Polesitter Neal Williams took an early lead when Thursday’s feature went green, but Friesen, who drew a spot in the third row, quickly advanced to second place. A yellow flag halted the pace in lap 5 as the 21k of Randy Chrysler collided with the 34 of Steve Hough collided. Immediately upon restarting the race, a pileup in turns one and two took several cars off the track. Brett Hearn, Billy Van Inwegen, Andy Bachetti and Dave Rauscher would not return to the track. Quebecois star Mario Clair, also involved, wheeled to the pits, where his crew was able to get the No. 22c in good enough shape to finish the race and nearly break the top five.
On the second restart, Williams took the outside pole starting position, leaving the inside for runner-up Friesen, who flew forward at the green, taking the top spot before the first turn. Friesen soon built a substantial lead, soon separating himself from Williams by nearly half a lap.
The only challenge to Friesen came with a lap-22 caution that brought the field back together, runner-up Haers threatening to give Friesen a taste of his own medicine on the late-race double-file restart. Friesen prevailed through the next 8 laps of the 30-lap feature to take victory in the second Super DIRTcar Series race of the season.
Following Friesen across the finish line was Justin Haers, who, after just 11 laps, jumped from his eighth starting position to second.
“The car was good. I wish we had started a little better, but we started eighth and finished second. We can’t complain,” said Haers. “If we can just build on it every night, then we should be in good shape.”
Australian Modified star Pete Britten finished third, after a stunning heat race battle lead to his triumph over Rich Scagliotta for the win. Britten drew the fifth starting spot, making his way to third by lap 11.
“It took a little bit to get going,” Britten said. “It’s hard starting on the bottom because all the momentum is on the outside here, so I started fifth and went back to seventh. From then on, I just worked my way up when I could.”
Three-time defending series champion Matt Sheppard finished fourth after starting ninth. Wednesday’s victor Danny Johnson also spent the 30 laps darting past cars, making his way from 12th to fifth.
Stewart Friesen, Justin Haers, Peter Britten, Matt Sheppard, Danny Johnson, Rick Laubach, Neal Williams, Dan Vauter, H.J. Bunting, Jimmy Horton, Mario Clair, Rob Bellinger, Francois Bernier, Alan Johnson, Darwin Greene, Eric Kormann, Randy Chrysler, Kevin Bates, Tim Fuller, Rich Scagliotta, Jamie Mills, Brett Hearn, Billy VanIwegen, Andy Bachetti, Dave Rausche, Steve Hough.