MALTA, NY — Brett Hearn’s The Big Show 11 lived up to its name and surpassed all expectations. In a 111-lap race that few will soon forget, five-time NAPA Super DIRT Week Champion Stewart Friesen passed race promotor and eight-time Series Champion Brett Hearn on lap 110 to steal the win in dramatic fashion. In third place, Mat Williamson and his Buzzchew Racing team were catching the dueling leaders but had to settle for the final step on the podium when the checkered flag fell.
With a grin from Malta, NY to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Stewart Friesen climbed out of his car and said, “Boy am I happy he [Brett Hearn] decided to make this race 111 laps.”
That indeed was the difference between Brett Hearn writing a check for $11,111 to himself, or Friesen. On lap 110 Friesen wound up his Big Block Modified up on the cushion between turns three and four before launching his DKM chassis No. 43 underneath Hearn’s black Madsen Motorsports No. 20 going into turn one. Friesen fended off a counterattack by The Jet and held on to take the checkered flag.
Friesen started seventh and as the race progressed he made his way into the top 5. From that vantage point he started to feel like a fan again while watching two of his childhood heroes race wheel-to-wheel just ahead of him. He describes the scene: “Brett is one heck of a race promoter as well as a race car driver. He hasn’t lost his touch. When him and Billy [Decker] rubbed there, I was like man these guys have been racing since the beginning of time, they gotta be wearing themselves out. They were just fighting tooth and nail. It was a lot of fun to watch. It’s been a privilege to grow up watching those two guys.”
Friesen added, “Thanks to all the fans. I know it’s a work night but it’s so awesome to see this place jam-packed,” he said while waving to the substantial crowd gathered in Victory Lane.
Due to his commitments to the NASCAR Gander Mountain Truck Series, it appeared unlikely that Friesen would be able to qualify for the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at Oswego Speedway without racking up some serious air miles. That is until he earned a guaranteed starting position with his Big Show win. Race fans will be eager to watch the No. 43 Halmar Racing machine work its way up through the field from the back of the pack. “That just saved us a lot of money on flights, so we’ll see you Sunday morning,” Stewart exclaimed.
You couldn’t help but feel for the living legend Brett Hearn after the lap 110 pass. But rest assured on this night nothing could ground The Jet. “It’s a win for me just to see people smiling and happy with the show. Everything worked out just absolutely perfectly, so I won this race before I even took the green. What a great night. To have the show run so smoothly, the entertainment be so good on the track, and to be in the lead with ten to go was just fantastic,” said Hearn.
In front of his massive The Big Show 11 banner in Victory Lane, Hearn had nothing but praise for the race winner. “Stewart Friesen is probably the most diverse driver we’ve seen in decades. He’s definitely one of the best there’s no doubt about it,” Hearn noted.
He described his struggles late in the race, “We ran ourselves out of right rear tire. He [Friesen] always knows how to pull a little bit extra out in the last few laps. He knew what lap it was that he needed to pull it out.”
Despite being on the wrong side of a dramatic late-race pass, Hearn was thrilled with the car and his race. “The funny thing was that we were bad on Friday night (for Albany-Saratoga Speedway’s Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship program) and I didn’t know what to expect tonight. To pull it off the trailer and put in fast time like that was good for us. Winning the Heat Race was good for us. And to be in contention to win with a few laps to go, that was good for us.”
When asked about adding the extra eleven laps, Brett Hearn laughed and said, “Yeah hindsight is 20/20!”
Mat Williamson and Buzzchew Racing only have a handful of races under their belts together, but if the team continues to post podium finishes like this, they’ll soon be in the hunt for a Championship. The great result is also coming off of a disappointing Heroes Remembered 100 at Weedsport Speedway, so that made it a little sweeter.
“We were pretty dejected after Weedsport and team worked their tail off and here we are back on the podium. We had to keep our confidence up and I know the guys were behind me and they can put one helluva race car together for me to drive,” Williamson said.
There is little doubt that the team has a tremendous amount of potential. Williamson noted that a brand new Billy the Kid motor was under the hood of his Big Block Modified and that certainly played a part in his The Big Show 11 success.
It’s always a team effort. Looking over his car Williamson said, “I can’t say enough about the determination of the Buzzchew guys. They want to win.”
That’s the kind of resolve a team needs to succeed at the highest level of Big Block Modified racing.
Gypsum Racing’s Larry Wight was the KSE Hard Charger Award winner, and he should get two awards as he made the charge from the rear twice. Wight started in the twenty-second position and by mid-race had worked his way into the top 10. Then the No. 99L appeared to make significant contact with the wall, but Wight motored on. With 42 laps to go, Wight slowed and brought out the caution flag. He came back up through the field again and passed up to twelfth.
The next Super DIRTcar Series race is on Sunday, June 30 at Cornwall Motor Speedway. Come celebrate Canada Day with the $7,500-to-win O’Canada 100. However, if you can’t make it to the race track, be sure to tune in with our partners at FloRacing. They provide the Super DIRTcar Series with season-long live HD streaming including all DIRTcar Northeast divisions at NAPA Super DIRT Week.
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The Big Show 11 (111 Laps)
1. 44-Stewart Friesen ; 2. 20-Brett Hearn ; 3. 88-Mat Williamson ; 4. 6H-Max McLaughlin ; 5. 9s-Matt Sheppard ; 6. 91-Billy Decker ; 7. 98H-Jimmy Phelps ; 8. 35-Mike Mahaney ; 9. 26-Ryan Godown ; 10. 25-Erick Rudolph ; 11. 43-Keith Flach ; 12. 99L-Larry Wight ; 13. X-Chad Phelps ; 14. 27j-Danny Johnson ; 15. 42p-Pat Ward ; 16. 3j-Marc Johnson ; 17. 115-Kenny Tremont ; 18. 21A-Peter Britten ; 19. 19m-Jesse Mueller ; 20. 111-Demetrios Drellos ; 21. 2L-Jack Lehner ; 22. 60-Brian Berger ; 23. R2-Rusty Smith ; 24. 18-Anthony Perrego ; 25. 3d-Matt Delorenzo ; 26. 97-Bobby Hackel ; 27. 48T-Dave Rauscher ; 28. 2rj-Ronnie Johnson 
-Super DIRTcar Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Dave Dalesandro