Stewart Friesen will embark on a journey this upcoming racing season that will be unlike any adventure he’s plunged into before. For the first time in his career, the Big-Block Modified driver from Niagra-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, will be chasing the full Super DIRTcar Series (SDS) schedule in 2016.
Friesen has partnered with Halmar International, a construction company based just outside of New York City, to pursue his first SDS championship in the Jeff Daley-backed No. 44 Modified.
“Having them come on board with our team allowed us to have the resources to put forth a good effort for the Super DIRT Series,” Friesen told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “As with all racing, it’s costly and it’s time consuming so we really have some good depth with the program now and we were able to put together some pieces to the puzzle that we haven’t had the past couple years.”
Running the full season is one thing; actually contending for the championship in a series as competitive as the Super DIRTcar Series is another. Because of that, Friesen plans to take it one race at a time and aim for consistency throughout the season.
“The goal of winning the championship is tough,” he said. “Our goal is to win races and be consistent, and then the points deal will take care of itself. We’re going to start out chasing the series and it’s something we’re looking forward to.”
Friesen, a four-time Syracuse 200 winner, has proven his ability to get things done in big races. He has also shown the know-how to win a championship, most recently winning the 2015 Short Track Super Series North Region championship. But one thing missing from his impressive resume is a Super DIRTcar Series championship. He admitted that adding a SDS title to his list of accomplishments would “be huge” for him and his team.
“With the amount of work that goes into it, it would be a good satisfying thing to be able to clinch that deal,” Friesen stated. “We’re really looking at it with an open mind right now. We’re going to try to be consistent and by August we may start thinking about points a little bit more. We definitely have the right pieces of the puzzle in place and the right equipment to be competitive and have fast race cars all year long.”
Friesen kicked off his 2016 season by traveling south to Volusia Speedway Park (FL) for the DIRTcar Nationals. Despite coming up just short of winning the 50-lap race on the final night, he was able to build up momentum for the regular season with three top-five finishes in four races.
“You look forward to going down there every year to test and kind of shake the rust off and get stuff rolling. We were able to test some stuff – some different shock combinations, some different spring combinations – and we thought we hit it right on the money the last night down there but Brett Hearn just kind of tricked us all going with the harder tires.
“We learned from that, but it’s good. Our Billy the Kid Engine ran well and our Teo Pro Cars were right where they need to be so hopefully that gives us some good momentum going into the regular season.”
The four races at Volusia served as the starting point to a journey that will lead Friesen to somewhere around 100 races this upcoming season. In addition to running full-time on the Super DIRTcar Series, he plans to run the full Short Track Super Series schedule for both the north and south region.
With 12-15 Sprint Car races also on his tentative schedule, Friesen estimates that he’ll run somewhere around 100 races during the 2016 racing season. But unlike in years past, all of his Big-Block Modified races will be with the same race team this upcoming season.
“To do it all with one team is going to be a lot of work, but it’s going to be a little easier now coming out of our shop, mine and my wife’s shop right at the house,” Friesen said while driving to Delaware for his first Short Track Super Series race of the season. “It’s about the same race wise as what we’ve done in the past, but we’ve never done it out of the same shop before. It may be a little easier really, not bouncing around between different cars and different teams. To have everything unified like that is something that is good for us.”
Racing nearly 100 races is not an easy task for a driver by any means, but it’s something that Friesen appreciates being able to do. With the cost of racing and the amount of work required to be competitive, he doesn’t take any of his opportunities for granted.
“It’s a dream come true,” Friesen said. “Ten years ago when I was racing a Sportsman car with my family, with my mom and dad, racing once a week I never dreamed of being able to go on the road like this and do it as a professional. This is super cool to be able to travel with my family and my best friend to all these races. We have a lot of fun every time we get on the road like this.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com