After a statement run in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway one week ago, Stewart Friesen and the Halmar International team have already turned the page back over to Dirt Modified competition. After surviving the winter months, Friesen will make his first dirt start of the season in the Northeast next Saturday, March 18 during the Short Track Super Series season opener at Georgetown Speedway.
While the effort in “Sin City” is one that Friesen is very proud of, his confidence for a strong performance at Delaware’s Georgetown Speedway in one week rides directly from their effort during the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway in February.
“We definitely turned the corner with the Truck deal. It's good that we're racing them now, so looking forward to what's to come,” Friesen told Speed51.com. “But the Trucks and the Dirt Modifieds are different deals, the Dirt Modified confidence comes more from our runs in Volusia. We were fast down there with our new stuff, so that's what's going on there, but with everything going well I am very happy.”
The Melvin L. Joseph Memorial will be a two-night main event next Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17 at Georgetown Speedway. A 30-lap, $4,049-to-win Small-Block Modified feature highlights Friday night action, while the season-opening 49-lap, $6,949-to-win feature for the Short Track Super Series tops the lineup Friday evening.
Friesen is planning to enter both races and hopes to capture a pair of trophies.
“We are running the Big-Block for the Saturday Short Track Super Series race, that's the same car we ran at Volusia. We also have our 2018 DKM car that will run the Small-Block race on Friday night,” he explained.
Friesen also enters the weekend with a great understanding of Georgetown’s new layout of the banking in the four turns, which is now in the progressive style that has become popular across the nation for a number of dirt tracks. He was the first to test the layout during the winter and praised promoter Brett Deyo and the Georgetown staff.
“I liked it, it makes the track really wide,” Friesen commented. “Georgetown has always been a fast track and now it's even faster, which is always cool. Next to Bridgeport and Rolling Wheels, I think it's right up there as one of the fastest tracks we race on now. I'm looking forward to it. Turns 3 and 4 has always had two grooves there and Brett has worked hard to even out 1 and 2, especially turn 2. I'm sure it's going to be even better because it was still pretty fresh when we got down there and tested. But that upper groove really straightens you out coming down the backstretch now.”
Georgetown, which was just named as Speed51.com’s 2017 Short Track of the Year during the annual 51 Awards, is a track which Friesen also believes will promote even better side-by-side racing for years to come.
“I think it will race better once we get a whole field out there. I know some Late Model guys have been testing down there since we were there,” he said. “The weather is so good down there, they don't get a lot of frost on the ground. They put the dirt down at the right time and have had enough race cars on it so that when we get down there it will be ready to go.”
With much hype for both the event and Short Track Super Series season, Friesen expects a larger field than usual. He also knows that getting qualified in through the heat races and not getting bogged down in a potentially competitive consolation race will be a big key to success.
“It will be a big field and it will be tough. Other than this last bit of winter we had, the weather's been nice so guys have been able to work on their race cars,” Friesen stated. “Everybody's anxious, it's the first race of the year, lot of guys have the bug after sitting around for the past few months. It will be tough qualifying the way they do it with the draw format, but it's exciting in the heat races, it will be key to get a good draw and have a good heat race.”
Naturally, Friesen is also confident that he and the No. 44 team can get their second STSS win at Georgetown.
“I like our chances whenever we go anywhere, I've got a great race team and a which group of guys to help me. We want to get the year started on the right foot and we're very optimistic about both races.”
For those who cannot make it to Georgetown Speedway March 17, you can see both the Short Track Super Series Modified and Sportsman races live on Speed51.com for free as premium member of the Speed51 Network. With a premium subscription, race fans will be able to watch every Short Track Super Series race in 2018. Click here to subscribe today.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos