NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standout Stewart Friesen made his stop in The First State worthwhile after triumphing and earning a $6,000 reward in the Sunoco Modified feature during the inaugural ‘Battle of the Bay’ Speedweek at Georgetown Speedway on Thursday.
Friesen, a veteran in the Big Block Modified ranks, started the 30-lap feature from the seventh position and rocketed his No. 44 Halmar Racing machine to the lead en route to scoring his second win in the past week (he won the Bruce Rogers Memorial at Grandview Speedway last Saturday) and his first in Delaware this season.
“We’re on top of the wave right now, but that’s just for right now,” Friesen expressed. “I’m lucky to have the best guys in the business behind me with Chris Larsen and Halmar and my best friends turning the wrenches.”
Benefiting from a strong long run machine, Ryan Watt rallied from a ninth place starting position to record a runner-up finish to Mr. Freeze in his second appearance at the half-mile dirt oval this season.
“We were reeling Friesen in there at the end,” Watt explained. “I could see he was getting tight towards the end. Lots of these cars are so close now, it’s getting tough to pass unless it’s on a restart. I’m definitely happy with our result tonight though.”
Craig Von Dohren, Delaware native Jordan Watson and Anthony Perrego, who qualified into the feature from the consolation race, completed the top five positions in the unsanctioned Big Block Modified event.
Drawing second from the basket during the driver’s meeting, Mr. Freeze started his respective heat race from the pole and coasted to a win in the eight-lap qualifier race - providing him with a position in the redraw to confirm the lineup for the main event.
Delaware veterans H.J. Bunting and Jamie Mills also earned victories in their heat races.
Following the qualifiers, Bunting drew the pole position for the feature alongside Watson, allowing the front row to become two Delaware natives and forcing the invaders to file in behind them.
During the opening stages, Bunting controlled the top position before Watson utilized the high side in his No. 1J Big Block Modified to overtake his hometown partner and begin setting sail on the field.
For a few laps Watson remained in control until Friesen started putting pressure on the former Delaware Int’l Speedway track champion. Within a couple circuits, Friesen pounced on a mistake from Watson and garnered the lead.
After a caution, the field regrouped and the jam-packed grandstands watched Northeast veterans Friesen and Von Dohren battle for the $6,000 check on a restart with 20 laps remaining.
Running nose-to-tail for multiple laps, Friesen gained his largest advantage in the feature once Von Dohren slipped from the track on the backstretch, allowing Watt to pounce on the runner-up position.
“It was fun running third and watching Friesen and Von Dohren battle,” Watt expressed. “I mean, they were running top to bottom and sliding all over the track. It was awesome to watch.”
From there, however, it was lights out for Friesen.
Despite a caution with four laps to go, the Canadian remained uncontested to the checkered flag and earned the win during his down time from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he is challenging for a spot in the championship battle later this season.
“Craig is a tough customer. When I saw him I knew I had to pick it up,” said Friesen. “Getting out front and getting that clean air is always important on these big tracks with the way our division is progressing.”
Duane Howard, Mills, David VanHorn, Frank Cozze and Billy Pauch Jr. rounded out the top-10 positions.
Georgetown will return to competition on Friday, May 4th for the annual Deron Rust Memorial, which boasts a $3,396 purse for the Sunoco Modifieds.
-By Marshall Gabell, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Contributor - Twitter: @MarshallGabell
-Photo Credit: SDS Photography