BRIDGEPORT, NJ – A pick of ‘73’ through the gate put Stewart Friesen last in the final heat race Sunday evening at Bridgeport Speedway.
It didn’t set the Sprakers, N.Y., driver back long. In just 8 laps’ time, he had powered from 10th to snag a redraw position in his qualifier, falling just shy of a heat-race checkered.
Come feature time, Friesen drove to a $5,100 payday in the ‘South Jersey Shootout’ 40-lap big-block/small-block Modified event, Round No. 2 of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Fueled By VP Velocita-USA South Region.
Friesen started the main from the front row but didn’t take command until the final 10 circuits, spending the race’s first three-quarters trailing speedway regular Mike Barone.
“I was trying to be a little conservative after last night,” Friesen said, referring to a flat tire while leading Saturday’s ‘Ice Jam’ event at Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway. “The 267 (Barone) was fast. He took off there for a while. We went harder on tires and it took us a while to come in.”
A very healthy Sunday evening crowd took in the third edition of the ‘South Jersey Shootout’ after rain washed out much of the region’s racing over the weekend. A talented field of 41 STSS Modifieds signed in for action.
At the outset of the 40-lap main, Barone’s family owned No. 267 outgunned Friesen to take command. Following a lengthy red flag for an opening-lap tangle involving Billy Pauch Sr. and Duane Howard, Barone again set the pace, while Friesen initially dropped to fourth.
On an eighth-lap restart, Friesen regained second spot behind Barone.
However, all eyes were on 18th-starter Neal Williams, who was rim-riding around the five-eighths-mile speedway in Sal DeBruno’s South Jersey Overhead Doors No. 0.
Williams cracked the top-five on lap nine and methodically worked the upper groove forward, moving into third by the 17th lap. ‘The Wheel’ closed on race-leading Barone and second-running Friesen by the halfway mark, setting up a three-car tussle for the top spot.
With lapped traffic in view, Barone left the bottom open for Friesen exiting turn four to complete lap 30. Friesen’s Halmar International No. 44 shot the gap and nosed ahead at the stripe, moments before the race’s final yellow flew for a slowing Jim Britt.
“I could see I was gaining little by little,” Friesen said of the pass. “He (Barone) ‘hung’ a little out of four and it gave me the room I needed there.”
On the ensuing double-file restart, Friesen shot out ahead of a wild scramble throughout the top-five. As the field headed down the backstretch, Danny Bouc powered from sixth to second in Mike Bent’s No. 88.
Pipersville, Pa.’s Bouc chased Friesen across the line, utilizing a sealed spec small-block to earn a $3,000 runner-up check.
“We needed this,” Bouc said afterward. “We’ve had nothing but bad luck with this car, parts breaking, everything that could go wrong has. We can use this money to go through everything and get it right now, because it’s a fast car.”
Barone’s outstanding effort resulted in a third-place result for the Hillsborough, N.J., driver. Williams, of Glassboro, N.J., placed fourth following his high-side charge and Ryan Godown of Ringoes, N.J., completed a steady drive in fifth with the Petruska family No. 66.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively were Jimmy Horton of Neshanic Station, N.J., in the Halmar International No. 43 after starting ninth; 13th-starter Craig Von Dohren of Oley, Pa., in the Dick Biever-owned No. 14s; QA1 Hard Charger Richie Pratt Jr. of Woodbury Heights, N.J., from 24th; David Van Horn Jr. of Harmony, N.J., aboard the Fred Vahlsing No. 323ov; and Jesse Hill of Barnsboro, N.J., who started 20th.
Heat winners for the 41 assembled Modifieds were Barone, Matt Jester (Milford, Del.), Billy Pauch Sr. (Frenchtown, N.J.) and Sammy Martz (Somerville, N.J.). The consolations were split by Jordan Watson (Milford, Del.) and Dom Buffalino (Morganville, N.J.).
The accompanying 20-lap Crate/Sportsman event went to second-generation driver Matt Stangle of Neshanic, N.J., while the 12-lap Outlaw Stock main fell to John Meyer.
Racing resumes for the STSS Velocita South Region on Thursday, May 25 with the ‘Diamond State 50’ at Delaware International Speedway in Delmar, Del. The 50-lap event offers $5,000 to the winner, $1,000 for 10th and $400 to take the green.
To learn more about the Short Track Super Series Fueled By VP or BD Motorsports Media LLC, visit www.shorttracksuperseries.com or www.bdmotorsportsmedia.com, call 845.728.2781 during business hours, e-mail [email protected], “like” Short Track Super Series on Facebook or follow @ShortTrackSS on Twitter.
BRIDGEPORT BITS: A popular pre-race attraction was bringing all qualified cars behind the grandstand in the midway and holding the redraw amongst the crowd moments before the feature event rolled out….
Tough break for Billy Pauch Jr., who qualified for the main event only to suffer driveline issues on the pre-race pace laps. He failed to start the feature….
Superstar drivers Brett Hearn and Danny Johnson were among the drivers unable to crack the 27-car starting field….
The win for Friesen was his STSS-leading eighth since the series’ inception in 2014. He’s now won at eight different facilities on the circuit….
After an extended red flag on the feature event’s opening lap when Howard in the Hansell No. 357 and Pauch Sr. 1 became entangled, both cars returned to the race following trips to the pits to remedy flat tires. Howard fared better of the duo, rallying back to 12th….
Series sponsor Bob Hilbert Sportswear provided all STSS Modified competitors with a complimentary tee-shirt at registration. Owner Bob Hilbert and staff enjoyed the night’s events from a VIP room….
The 2017 Short Track Super Series is presented by American Racer/Lias Tire, VP Racing Fuel, Bob Hilbert Sportswear, Halmar International, Allstar Performance, ATL Racing Fuel Cells, Behrent’s Performance Warehouse, Bicknell Racing Products, Dirt Track Digest, Fast Axle, Fox Racing Shocks, Hig Fab, Henry’s Exhaust, HyperCo, Keizer Wheels, Kirkey Racing Fabrication, K&N, QA1, Race Pro Weekly, Racing Optics, Teo-Pro Car, Velocita & Wilwood.
-Short Track Super Series Press Release & Photo
Feature Finish (40 laps): STEWART FRIESEN, Danny Bouc, Mike Barone, Neal Williams, Ryan Godown, Jimmy Horton, Craig Von Dohren, Richie Pratt Jr., David Van Horn Jr., Jesse Hill, Andy Bachetti, Duane Howard, Jordan Watson, Rick Laubach, Brett Kressley, Jeff Strunk, David Hunt, Ryan Watt, Jamie Mills, Billy Pauch Sr., Matt Jester, Tyler Dippel, Jim Britt, Dom Buffalino, Wade Hendrickson, Sammy Martz.