CORNWALL, Ont. — Stewart Friesen battled to a wild first win of the season Sunday night as the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds took on Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway.
Friesen, who took the lead on the initial start from pole-sitter Max McLaughlin, was able to capture the Mel Valade Backhoe Service 100 lapper, but not without a hard fight by fourth place starter, Matt Sheppard.
The initial start saw Friesen pulling away from the pack on the topside of the track while McLaughlin and Sheppard battled for second position.
It didn’t take long for Friesen to find himself in traffic as he caught the back of the pack by lap 12. He got bottled up on the top of the speedway and Sheppard went to the bottom of the exit of turn four to snatch the lead away.
Friesen was able to take back the lead but only to be halted by a yellow.
By lap 30, Brett Hearn battled McLaughlin for third place.
The track was starting to slick off by lap 40 as Friesen and Sheppard began to pull away from the field.
Once again Friesen closed in on lap traffic by lap 39. Friesen went in high in turns one and two which opened the door for Sheppard to pass Friesen on the bottom. Friesen came back through the middle, three wide in lap traffic to take back the lead.
By lap 45, the scoreboard showed Friesen, Sheppard, Hearn, Johnson, and Britten as the top five. Danny Johnson was up to fourth after starting in eleventh.
All eyes were on Friesen and Sheppard as they kept swapping lines, battling for the top position.
Chris Raabe was showing a late race charge as he ran down Hearn and passed him for the fourth spot on lap 69.
The fifth caution of the night was necessary on lap 75 after Britten and Williamson, both running in the top 10, got into a tangle on the track.
The action resumed again on lap 75 as Sheppard tried to crisscross and slide to the top coming out of turn two but Friesen was able to hold him off and pull away on the backstretch with the lead. Friesen then muscled his way around the top of the track and pulled away with a five-car lead.
The sixth caution of the night was brought out. On the restart Johnson tried to pass Sheppard on the bottom but Sheppard was able to squeeze Johnson out.
As the battle behind the leader grew strong, Friesen was in his own race. He was consistent, running the top in one and two and right around the bottom in three and four.
The last caution of the night flew on lap 88. It was a single file restart as Johnson tried the inside lane to pass by Sheppard but Sheppard made sure to come back down on him to close this out.
Sheppard tried his hardest to pull Friesen on the top side and cut down across to the inside. They were running side-by-side for the lead.
On lap 97, as lapped traffic got thicker, Friesen started to pull away on the top side of the track as that same traffic held Sheppard up on the bottom. Friesen shot to the outside corner number four and drove away to win his first Super DIRTcar Series event of the year.
“We were a little tight early,” said Friesen. “Our crew was great tonight though. Halmar International team is awesome. They give me everything I need. We do a lot of racing and we’re starting to pick it up a bit.”
Matt Sheppard was in high spirits over his battle between Friesen for the lead.
“I hope the fans got their money’s worth,” said Sheppard. “I think he had the best car tonight. I could stay with him but he was able to pull away. Next thing you know I thought I was able to steal this from him. I probably should have stayed on the top and blocked but it is what it is. He had the better car and he won tonight.”
The top ten respectively were Friesen, Sheppard, Johnson, Raabe, Hearn, Cozze, Decker, Fuller, McLaughlin, Clair.
Forty-four Modifieds attempted to qualify for the Mel Valade Backhoe Service 100 lapper. Thirty cars started the field. Eight cautions were brought out during the feature. Larry Wight set fastest time in time trials with a 13.136. Chris Raabe was the only small block to finish in the top-five.
The Big-Block Modifieds return to action this Tuesday, June 28, at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, the 4/10 semi-banked clay oval for Brett Hearn’s The Big Show 8 with Kenny Wallace. The eighth annual event makes its fifth appearance at Albany-Saratoga. Decker and Jimmy Phelps both have two wins at the event with Bobby Varin, Hearn, and Johnson the other drivers to have claimed wins over the years.
Follow the series on Twitter @SuperDIRTcar, or click www.SuperDIRTcarSeries.com.
Super DIRTcar Series Statistical Report; June 26, 2016; Cornwall Motor Speedway; Cornwall, Ont.
A-Main (100 Laps) – 1. Stewart Friesen, 2. Matt Sheppard, 3. Danny Johnson, 4. Chris Raabe, 5. Brett Hearn, 6. Frank Cozze, 7. Billy Decker, 8. Tim Fuller, 9. Max McLaughlin, 10. Mario Clair, 11. Jimmy Phelps, 12. Kyle Dingwall, 13. Brian McDonald, 14. Pat Ward, 15. Steve Bernard, 16. Peter Britten, 17. Matt Williamson, 18. Larry Wight, 19. Ryan Arbuthnot, 20. Rich Scagliotta, 21. Mike Mahaney, 22. Erick Rudolph, 23. Yan Bussiere, 24. J-F Corriveau, 25. Keith Flach, 26. Michael Maresca, 27. Jordan McCreadie, 28. Gage Morin, 29. Carey Terrance, 30. Luke Whitteker, 31. Joel Doiron
-Super DIRTcar Series Press Release & Photo