After a month of waiting, the Short Track Super Series North Region finally took to the Orange County Fair Speedway Tuesday night for the 50-lap Hard Clay Open. In the end, it was Stewart Friesen once again leading the field to the checkered flag for the second straight race in STSS competition at the ‘The House of Power.
Friesen’s Hard Clay Open win followed a victory in the Hard Clay Finale last season at the Middletown, NY oval.
Taking over the lead on Lap 10 from Ryan Godown, Friesen set sail from the field on every restart. It was the kind of dominating performance that Friesen and the Halmar No. 44 team have been striving for.
“We have a good extra distance package here. DKM car was awesome, Billy the Kid gave us great smoke for the Short Track Super Series and I got great teammates, all my best friends are working together,” Friesen told Speed51.com. “It's a lot of fun, it's a deal that we've been able to tweak on the last three years with Halmar. It's cool it's all coming together.”
The victory came with a little extra meaning, as it was Friesen’s first time competing at Orange County Fair Speedway since the speedway was purchased by Halmar owner Chris Larsen over the off-season.
“That's a big thing. He's not shy about putting extra pressure on us when we come down here,” Frisesen stated. “We definitely have to be on our A-game. I texted him yesterday and said that our guns are loaded.”
A solid showing in his heat race put Friesen into the feature redraw, where he started seventh, but it was enough to put him in position to strike early.
“We got here and managed to draw halfway decent. Raced into the redraw, which is crucial here. We just had a great race car, guys were sliding up and we were able to fill holes. The DKM guys have been working hard, it's good to come down here and put it on them.”
Even more impressive was Friesen not only be relentlessly fast during the green flag runs, but that he was able to do it without significant tire wear, a difficult feat on Orange County’s notoriously abrasive clay. In the end, Friesen owed it to the American Racer tires, one of the sport’s greats, and previous experience on the 5/8-mile oval.
“I was just trying to keep it straight flat and smooth. I'm lucky to have a lot of Eastern States 200 under my belt here,” Friesen explained. “Following Brett Hearn around this place has been great for learning, he's the best at saving tires and also being fast. I was just trying to hit mark, keep the car smooth and when you're out front you're able to do that. We had clean air, cautions fell at the right times, I never got stuck in lap traffic or anything crazy, it was good.”
After celebrating his record-extending 11th career STSS victory, Friesen will head west to Kansas Speedway for his next appointment with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday. As for his next Dirt Modified race…
“We’ll be back at Fonda (NY), Saturday night.”
To watch an on-demand replay of the Hard Clay Open, click here
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos