By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
If it wasn’t for bad luck, Stewart Friesen would likely have no luck at all. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver seemed poised to score his first victory in the 37 Kind Days 250 at Kansas Speedway. However, the pieces did not fall into place for Friesen, who ended up settling for a third-place finish.
On the final restart, Friesen jumped to the inside in his No. 52 Halmar International “We Build America” Chevrolet Silverado. He made quick work of Kyle Busch, John Hunter Nemechek, and Matt Crafton. Friesen then had to run down eventual race winner Noah Gragson. However, everyone still had to pit for fuel. Gragson was the first to pit with about 35 laps to go. Friesen and Busch followed suit several laps later. Both Busch and Friesen and Busch took two tires, while Gragson took four.
While that ultimately made the difference, it made for an entertaining battle between Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Busch, and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada native Friesen. The Canadian worked his way past Busch, but soon slipped back into his clutches. As Busch tried to re-pass Friesen, they made contact, sending Busch down the track and into the grass. Somehow, he held onto his Toyota Tundra, recovering from the incident unscathed.
“That was fun,” Friesen said. “Apologies to Kyle, I didn’t mean to run him down to the grass like that. But, I know if you let those guys eat you up, they’ll eat you up every week. I was just trying my hardest to keep him back there, doing what we can to get the win. I kind of figured that was for the win after everything cycled through. I didn’t realize the 18 got four tires there, he was just a rocket ship after that. Super proud of our Halmar team, Chris Larsen, everything he’s done for me to get me to this level. I never dreamed that I would be racing these guys, to compete for wins here. Thanks to GMS, their fab shop is second to none.”
Prior to that final restart, Friesen had been leading. The shifter knob broke off, and as he was radioing his crew, the truck lost power. Friesen’s Chevrolet coasted as several trucks drove past his powerless truck. When he finally refired, he was in sixth. Friesen had only taken the lead moments before that caution had waved.
“The shifter knob broke off the handle under that caution,” Friesen explained. “Trying to deal with that, making sure it didn’t roll under the gas pedal or something like that, and trying to save fuel and cycle the motor it wouldn’t re-fire. I had to kill the power and totally cycle it, and it fired back up. We lost spots back there, but we battled back. It was just a weird deal.”
The third-place finish was Friesen’s second top-five and third top-10 finish of the season. It also moved him up from 10th to seventh in the Championship Points Standings. Friesen is now 97-points behind Championship leader Johnny Sauter, but just five points ahead of the Playoff cutoff, held by Justin Haley.
Now Friesen and his Halmar-Friesen Racing team will prepare to take this truck to Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18 for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.