ROSSBURG, Ohio – After three years, six second-place finishes, handfuls of top-five and top-10 finishes, local-favorite Stewart Friesen FINALLY won his first NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series race.
An ace on the dirt tracks of WNY, Southern Ontario and CNY, the Niagara-on-the-Lake native won at the most fitting place for him on the dirt of Eldora Speedway. And, in typical Friesen Fashion it wasn’t done easily.
He qualified fourth by winning the fourth, of five heats, that were run earlier in the evening. When the 150-lap race began, he quickly made his way to second and followed leader Chase Briscoe around until the end of stage 2 on lap 90.
Briscoe hit pit road for fuel and tires as Stewart, despite being called in by his crew chief Trip Bruce, elected to remain out. With all his winning experience on dirt, Bruce trusted his driver’s intuition. The only issue they would have would be fuel, but Friesen’s fellow competitors helped him by causing several cautions to slow the pace of the race.
This allowed Friesen to conserve his fuel, survive the multiple restarts, lead the final 57 laps and claim his first major NASCAR Touring Series checkered flag. And, he did it with a large contingent of fans in the stands from the S. Ontario, WNY and CNY areas.
“Thank you to all the race fans that stuck with us,” Friesen said. “Today, this is the day. This is the week. Thanks to everybody. This is meant to be, we needed to get it done on the dirt.
“Thanks to everyone. What a special event.”
Even more special is the fact he now locked himself in the Playoffs with the win to contend for a championship. He made it in last year on points.
A quick history on Friesen and you will see lap counter, scorer, water truck driver and other behind-the-scenes jobs when his family owned Ransomville Speedway in Niagara County. This writer used to be the announcer at Ransomville when young Stewart worked as a scorer during the races.
He worked his way up the dirt ranks going from Sportsman to Modified ace winning track championship and big-paying races around the Northeast. To say he did his native area and fans proud at Eldora would be an understatement.
Finally, Friesen is a NASCAR Truck winner. Here’s to many more, Stewie.