Tuesday night started off a little unusual at Afton Motorsports Park (NY) with a number of big name drivers starting the Afton Action 50 outside the top 10 due to troubles earlier in the night or just bad luck. But eventually the cream of the Short Track Super Series Northern Region rouse through the field in spectacular fashion. In the end, Stewart Friesen made it to the top to win his first STSS North win of 2017 and second overall to go with his South region victory at Bridgeport Speedway (NJ).
After a solid second in his heat race, Friesen caught some bad luck in the top-12 redraw for the feature, getting the number 12 position. After some early yellows, the driver of the No. 44 went on a tear over a 30-lap run, using the outside line to get to second. Danny Creeden had snagged the lead from Nick Nye over the run, but a Lap 35 yellow erased his lead over Friesen, with Friesen sailing past for the lead and hanging on over a few more late restarts.
“What a race car. The Halmar team is racing a lot with the Modified right now and working hard,” Friesen said in Victory Lane. “Got to thank all the guys that come with me to all these races; it’s awesome when you can win one like that, it was a lot of fun. There was an awesome outside (groove) out there, just had to let it clean up a little bit and got rolling out there.”
Though Friesen had done most of his work on the long run, the yellow flags proved beneficial late in the race, not just to put him in contact with Creeden, but allowing his American Racer tires to cool down after some hard driving.
“Creeden was good, we got to second and kind of paced with him. It seemed like those cautions helped us cool the tires off and hurt him a little bit,” Friesen explained. “I think our tires were a little too hot from beating them too hard on the outside for that long run. Once we got to second and the tires cooled off it came back alive. I wasn’t really sure where to be at the end, I just tried to keep it as straight was I could and keep him underneath me. It was great, always exciting racing with Danny and it was good for us.”
While Friesen had chosen to go with a softer tire compound, eventual race runner-up Ryan Godown, who swept both STSS races at Afton in 2016, had decided to go with a harder compound. Godown started the feature 17th after qualifying through consi racing and made a hard charge towards the front in the 50-lap feature.
After the race, Godown explained how he would have preferred more green flag racing over the final laps.
“Our car the first ten laps wasn’t there. We were pretty far off, then it came in. We went with a little different strategy on tires, so I could beat it getting there. We got there and we had the long cautions in a row and it just killed it, couldn’t get enough heat back in the tires. But to run second to Friesen, we came from 17th passing some really good cars, it’s worth the five-hour trip home to come to a good track and see some good racing.”
Polesitter Jeremy Smith held on for a third-place finish while, Creeden and Ryan Jordan rounded the top five.
Friesen’s win also breaks a deadlock for the points lead he and Andy Bachetti had coming into the night. Bachetti started 25th and finished sixth.
The Northern Region of the Short Track Super Series is back at it in less than two weeks as they head into the Catskills for the Battle at the Bullring 5 at Accord Speedway on Monday, July 3.
Fans can watch a tape-delayed video stream of Tuesday night’s Short Track Super Series North Afton Action 50 by clicking here.
You can also get an on-demand recap at Trackside Now.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos