By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
SPARTA, Ky. – The Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 was an adventure for Stewart Friesen. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver known more for racing on dirt passed more trucks than anyone else after having to start from the rear due to an engine change.
“We had to make a motor swap after time trials,” Friesen explained. “The GMS crew, our HFR crew worked on it together as they have been all year. We had all hand on deck there to swap everything out. Not exactly sure what the problem was, but after that we were on a mission. Followed Matt (Crafton) up through, raced hard through the pack. The guys gave me an awesome pit stop and got us second there.”
From the start of the final stage, it appeared that Friesen’s No. 52 We Build America Chevrolet Silverado would be the truck to beat. He battled hard with Parker Kligerman for several laps before taking the lead. However, during green flag pit stops, Friesen was slow leaving his box, handing the lead to the eventual winner, Ben Rhodes. The Canadian native closed the gap, but never got close enough to Rhodes and finished runner-up.
“That green flag stop, I just didn’t get off pit road like I needed to,” Friesen added. “I gave up too much time maybe getting on pit road. I just didn’t get a good enough launch and that was it. The 41 (Rhodes) got in front of us by a hundred yards or so, and we were just a little bit tight after that.”
The second-place finish is the fourth top-five and seventh top-10 finish for Friesen this season. It also keeps him fourth in the Championship Points Standings, 119 behind Points Leader Johnny Sauter.
Although Friesen is 96 points ahead of the cutoff, only a victory can truly lock him into the Playoffs. With the Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway next week, many have high expectations for the Halmar-Friesen Racing driver.
“Well, I’m cautiously optimistic (of making the Playoffs at Eldora),” Friesen said. “Obviously I have a little bit of an advantage there, but Matt got us there last year. There’s some good kids coming in. I’ve raced with Max McLaughlin, Tyler Dippel all the time in the SuperDIRT Series and the Short Track Super Series. Two good kids coming in with pretty good trucks. If you know Max and his dad Mike, they have experience in NASCAR, they’ll be tough.”
“There’s a bunch of wingless (sprint) guys coming in. Chris Windom’s good. You never know. We’ve had it circled on the calendar all year. I know we’re building the best piece we can. We’re not just bringing whatever is on the shelf. Hopefully that pays off.”