For the past several years one of the most feared names coming into Super DIRT Week has been that of Stewart Friesen. His four race victories, including the last two seasons, have made him a master of the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Unfortunately, Friesen will forever be the last master of the “Moody Mile” following its closure after the 2015 running.
The 45th running of Super DIRT Week has a different but still special home as the hard top Oswego Speedway hosts Dirt Racing for the first time in its history. Like many, Friesen believes that the “Steel Palace” is just such a place to carry on the tradition.
“My thoughts are optimistic. I’m looking forward to it, obviously. A new venue and a venue like Oswego with a lot of history is cool. It’s good for the series,” Friesen said in a media presser last week. “When we lost the Fairgrounds everyone was disappointed about that but I think Oswego is the next best place. It will be a good place for everything that’s going to go on that week.”
Despite a list of unknowns that have been raised ever since the announced move to Oswego, there are few worries on the mind for Friesen, who thinks the 5/8 mile track will present a fresh challenge for teams and drivers.
“The size and shape of the track isn’t going to change, so it’s definitely unique. We don’t really race on anything that shape. It’s a lot rounder than a lot of people realize I think. It’s exciting, the live pit stops keeping that going is going to be good. As far as our race team we’ll just try to be well-rounded and prepared for anything that could come up during the race.”
Compared to the many aero challenges that teams faced at the mile-long Fairgrounds, the much of the extra preparation will not be needed for Oswego. The only major modification will be for fast fueling during live pit stops over the 300-Lap marathon, leaving “Mr. Freeze” and the No. 44 Halmar team to concentrate on house cleaning, tire choices and possible setups.
“We have some good options with compounds and stagger, but other than that the body work we did for Syracuse we don’t have to do all that crazy stuff for Oswego. We’re just kind of cleaning stuff up and going with the good downforce, short track body and just mounting our quick fill stuff for the pit stop as efficiently and as cleanly as we can. It’s a little bit easier than it was to prepare for Syracuse, but still it’s a $50,000-to-win race so nobody is going to take that lightly and everybody is going to bring their best stuff.”
If there’s one thing that Friesen made clear, it is that the racing in the week ahead is as big as ever, especially if Super DIRT Week gets a future permanent home some place other than Oswego.
“Of course it will be huge. Everybody wanted to win the last one at “The Mile” and everybody wants to win this first one at Oswego. It’s our biggest race of the season and if it’s only there once it could be one of the biggest races of our careers, just as big as the last one was at Syracuse. The money on the line is pretty outstanding, too. Everybody is going to be paying attention and trying as hard as we can.”
Be sure to stay with Speed51.com all throughout the next week with live Trackside Now coverage from Oswego Speedway of practice, qualifying, and all the racing action. The Speed51 Network will be packed full of exclusive interviews, a behind the scenes look, and race highlights from tracks throughout the Central New York region.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, Long Island) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Mojo Photos