CORRECTION: The headline in the printed copy of The Local had this a NASCAR race, which it clearly wasn’t. The Local apologizes for the error and any confusion it may have caused. Sorry Stewart!!
Four weeks after making his NASCAR Cup Series debut at the same track, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Stewart Friesen’s return to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee was a victorious one.
The process to convert the hard surface at Bristol began back in January with the transport of 23,000 cubic feet of Bluff City Clay to the track. Friesen had the chance to test the track out on the March 28 weekend in two races, one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the other his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series in the 250-lap Food City Dirt Race.
He placed 7th and 23rd respectively that weekend.
Friesen’s return this past weekend was triumphant. He swept both races on the converted half-mile dirt track, earning feature victories and top prizes of $10,000 in both events at the World of Outlaws Bristol Throwdown.
Friday night’s Super DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds Series race marked the debut of that circuit at Bristol. With most races running at tracks in the Northeast of the U.S. and Canada, Friesen couldn’t wait to get the number 44 Halmar-Friesen car onto the Bristol surface.
Mike Mahaney of King Ferry, New York was out in front for the first 17 laps of the 40-lap feature. Friesen, who started the race in the eighth position, methodically worked his way through the rest of the field to pass Mahaney in lap number 18. He held off challenges by the early leader as well as Tyler Dippel, Tim Sears Jr. and St. Catharines native Mat Williamson to claim the weekend’s first Big Block Modified title at the Speedway.
In an interview following Friday’s contest, Friesen raved about the opportunity to run the Big Block Modifieds at Bristol. “I’ve wanted one of these (Bristol Motor Speedway Swords) for so long since we started coming here with the truck,” he said.
He went on to add that his chance to watch the Sprint Car race, which was held just before the Modifieds event, gave him some pointers for his own event. In that race, David Gravel set a Bristol track record time of 13.6762 seconds while running on top, and Friesen tried to follow that same strategy. He also credited his NASCAR experience in March in both the Truck and Cup Series races for valuable lessons on the Bristol dirt.
A Saturday postponement forced Friesen to wait another day to complete his clean sweep.
On Sunday, Mahaney once again jumped out to the early lead, but Friesen, who started in position 2, inched forward to overtake him in lap 8. Mahaney climbed back out front on the next lap. Then, with 16 laps to go, Friesen moved up top on the turn once again to pass Mahaney. He held on from there, using a pick-and-roll move with the 25th place Marcus Dinkins as the decoy to fight off a final-lap challenge from 22-year-old Demetrios Drellos of Queensbury, New York, for his second win of the weekend.
The victory was Friesen’s third in a row in the SuperDIRT cars series, having won April 10 at Can-Am Speedway in Lafargeville, New York.
Following the victory, he credited his team for developing an excellent race plan Sunday, and commented on the quality of the track for modified racing, calling it the best afternoon track he’s ever seen.
Friesen and his truck team are off to Kansas Speedway in Kansas
City this Saturday for the Wise Power 200, the next event on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule. UP