BARBERVILLE, FL – For the third consecutive year, Stewart Friesen captured the second night of Super DIRTcar Big-Block Modified Series action at Volusia Speedway Park’s annual DIRTcar Nationals on Thursday night.
Friesen, the defending event champion, swiped the lead from three-time series titlist Matt Sheppard en route to winning the 30-lap feature, marking the sixth time in his career he’s won in the Sunshine State.
“We had a great race car,” said Friesen, defending Syracuse 200 winner from Sprakers, N.Y. “We worked a lot of bugs out last night and learned a lot of stuff about the speedway. We were able to find that grip there in the middle and just sneak up on there.”
Billy Pauch started on the front row alongside Rick Laubach for the Modified main event. Laubach got the jump at the green putting his No. 7 out in front of the field. He led the first few circuits as Matt Sheppard worked forward from the outside of the second row into the runner-up position. Once there he began stalking Laubach for the lead.
Sheppard worked by Laubach on lap four on the inside of turns three and four to take over the top position. Before another lap could be completed, the caution was displayed for Tim Kerr as he spun in the middle of turn setting up a double-file restart. At the green Sheppard remained the leader while Friesen took his car to the middle lane on the speedway, which allowed him to move from the fourth position into second.
Friesen stalked Sheppard for the next three laps before making his move for the lead. As Sheppard attempted to protect the bottom lane on the speedway, Friesen drove right by him in the middle. Sheppard hung with Friesen for a few laps before he was able to open up the gap on the field.
“After that first start we found it (middle groove) when we fell back to fourth,” Friesen said. “We got up in the middle and got up on top and it started rolling. Matt was on the bottom and we were just able to find that rubber in the center and check out.”
Friesen showed the way at the halfway point as he caught the tail end of the field. He refused to give up the middle lane as he attempted to put cars down a lap. Sheppard, meanwhile, had his hands full with Danny Johnson as well as Tim Fuller right as the caution came out for Wednesday night’s runner-up finisher Anthony Perrego, who stopped at the exit of turn two.
The caution bunched the field and gave everyone another shot at Friesen. He wasted little time after the green flag to expand his gap on the field as he kept his Tom and Roxanne Cullen-owned ride in the middle of the track. Sheppard ran a similar line, but wasn’t good enough to stay with Friesen.
Friesen again checked out on the field. He ran consistently strong lap times allowing him to pull away from Sheppard. They remained in the top two positions as the laps began to wind down. Friesen again fought traffic on lap 23 before the final caution of the race came one lap later as Jimmy Phelps slowed on the speedway. The caution gave Friesen the opportunity to cool down his Hoosier tires.
“When Jimmy (Phelps) stopped there it actually helped me out,” Friesen said. “It let my tires cool off a little bit. We were real good for five or six laps at the beginning of a run before it kind of started to go the other way. It started to push the right front out the longer we went. It really helped us out and let our stuff cool down.”
The race resumed with Friesen holding off Sheppard over the final six laps to score his first win of the 2015 season. Sheppard, who struggled on Wednesday night, was happy to finish in the runner-up position aboard his Heinke-Baldwin Racing-owned car.
“We are getting a lot better,” said Sheppard, of Waterloo, N.Y. “We took off at the drop of the green. The car felt really good, felt really balanced and thought we had a good line there. Stewie (Friesen) went by me around the top so I decided to try it up there. I didn’t realize the track had already started to lock down. Guess if we had moved up there a little sooner we would have had a shot.”
Johnson fought his way back by Wednesday night winner Brett Hearn and Fuller to earn the final spot on the podium with his Chris Gennarelli-owned No. 27J Bicknell.
“I really appreciate this hot rod, it is really fast,” Johnson said. “I think we could have been a hair bit better. We got stuck there behind Laubach on the restart and he was backing up and we couldn’t get going. We are really happy to be here. We’ll try it again tomorrow night.”
Fuller ended up finishing in the fourth spot after he started from the inside of the third row with his Dave Rauscher-owned No. 19 Bicknell. He was followed to the line by Hearn, who worked from ninth to complete the top-five.
Racing returns Friday night at Volusia Speedway Park for the 11th day of the DIRTcar Nationals. Gates open at 5 p.m. and racing begins at 7:30 p.m.
Follow the series on Twitter @SuperDIRTcar, or click www.SuperDIRTcarSeries.com.
Super DIRTcar Series Statistical Report; Feb. 19, 2015; Volusia Speedway Park; Barberville, Fla.
Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds A-Main – (30 Laps) – 1. 1W-Stewart Friesen ($2,000); 2. 9H-Matt Sheppard; 3. 27J-Danny Johnson; 4. 19-Tim Fuller; 5. 20-Brett Hearn; 6. 21a-Peter Britten; 7. 99L-Larry Wight; 8. 3H-Justin Haers; 9. 6m-Mat Williamson; 10. 7z-Erick Rudolph; 11. 32c-Vic Coffey; 12. 22J-Jeremy Wilder; 13. 7-Rick Laubach; 14. 21k-Randy Chrysler; 15. 22c-Mario Clair; 16. 96-Yan Bussiere; 17. 323-Neal Williams; 18. 1d-Tyler Dippel; 19. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 20. 54-Steve Bernard; 21. 7-Tim Kerr; 22. 55-Anthony Perrego; 23. 8-Rich Scagliotta; 24. 5*-Tyler Siri; 25. 30-Jamie Mills; 26. 1-Billy Pauch
Qualifying Group #1 – 1. 7-Rick Laubach, 17.835; 2. 27J-Danny Johnson, 18.083; 3. 20-Brett Hearn, 18.111; 4. 8-Rich Scagliotta, 18.143; 5. 1d-Tyler Dippel, 18.606; 6. 54-Steve Bernard, 18.717; 7. 21-Yan Bussiere, 18.762; 8. 1g-Darwin Greene, 18.885; 9. 29-Chris Ostrowsky, 19.009
Qualifying Group #2 – 1. 1W-Stewart Friesen, 17.729; 2. 21a-Peter Britten, 18.058; 3. 7z-Erick Rudolph, 18.168; 4. 7-Tim Kerr, 18.447; 5. 21k-Randy Chrysler, 18.523; 6. 5-Jimmy Horton, 18.651; 7. 22J-Jeremy Wilder, 18.724; 8. 97-Michel Chicoine, 18.795; 9. 88-Dave Allen, 18.896
Qualifying Group #3 – 1. 19-Tim Fuller, 18.223; 2. 9H-Matt Sheppard, 18.272; 3. 6m-Mat Williamson, 18.314; 4. 3H-Justin Haers, 18.316; 5. 22c-Mario Clair, 18.339; 6. 32c-Vic Coffey, 18.394; 7. 5*-Tyler Siri, 18.542; 8. 21R-Roger Chrysler, 19.335
Qualifying Group #4 – 1. 1-Billy Pauch, 17.74; 2. 30-Jamie Mills, 17.92; 3. 323-Neal Williams, 17.934; 4. 99L-Larry Wight, 18.057; 5. 55-Anthony Perrego , 18.225; 6. 98H -Jimmy Phelps, 18.363; 7. 48T-Dave Rauscher, 18.368; 8. 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau, 20.157
Heat #1 (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 7-Rick Laubach; 2. 27J-Danny Johnson; 3. 20-Brett Hearn; 4. 8-Rich Scagliotta; 5. 1d-Tyler Dippel; 6. 54-Steve Bernard; 7. 21-Yan Bussiere; 8. 1g-Darwin Greene; 9. 29-Chris Ostrowsky
Heat #2 (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 21a-Peter Britten; 2. 1W-Stewart Friesen; 3. 7z-Erick Rudolph; 4. 7-Tim Kerr; 5. 21k-Randy Chrysler; 6. 22J-Jeremy Wilder; 7. 88-Dave Allen; 8. 97-Michel Chicoine; 9. 5-Jimmy Horton
Heat #3 (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 9H-Matt Sheppard; 2. 19-Tim Fuller; 3. 3H-Justin Haers; 4. 6m-Mat Williamson; 5. 5*-Tyler Siri; 6. 32c-Vic Coffey; 7. 22c-Mario Clair; 8. 21R-Roger Chrysler
Heat #4 (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 99L-Larry Wight; 2. 1-Billy Pauch; 3. 30-Jamie Mills; 4. 55-Anthony Perrego; 5. 323-Neal Williams; 6. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 7. 48T-Dave Rauscher; 8. 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau
Last Chance Showdown #1 (12 Laps – Top 3 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 22J-Jeremy Wilder; 2. 54-Steve Bernard; 3. 21-Yan Bussiere; 4. 1g-Darwin Greene; 5. 97-Michel Chicoine; 6. 29-Chris Ostrowsky; 7. 88-Dave Allen
Last Chance Showdown #2 (12 Laps – Top 3 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 2. 32c-Vic Coffey; 3. 22c-Mario Clair; 4. 48T-Dave Rauscher; 5. 21R-Roger Chrysler; 6. 96-Jean-Francois Corriveau