ROSSBURG, Ohio — Stewart Friesen led the list of five heat race winners for Wednesday night’s Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway, earning the pole after leading all 10 laps and winning the first heat race at the half-mile dirt oval.
Friesen’s quest for a clean sweep of the night is still alive, as he backed up his fast time in qualifying with a 2.097 second win in his heat race over John Hunter Nemechek. That puts him on the pole for the 150-lap Dirt Derby main event tonight (9:30 p.m. ET, FOX Business, MRN, SiriusXM).
The first heat ran caution-free, despite spins by both Norm Benning and pre-race favorite Bobby Pierce.
“The track is pretty slick right there,” Friesen said after his heat win. “I was just trying to keep it underneath me, I tried to move down and see if there was anything on the bottom but there wasn’t much anywhere. We’ll tweak on it for the feature and we’ll go on from there.”
Pierce was running in the fifth and final transfer spot on the last lap, but spun entering Turn 4 and sustained considerable damage to the left-rear corner of the truck when he smacked the outside wall.
“Luckily, the damage is mostly all body work, but the bad thing is I was in the transfer spot,” Pierce lamented. “After starting in the back of the heat, I just wanted one more (spot). I’ve been struggling to turn all weekend and I just dove in there really hard on the gas and was seeing if that would make it turn. It just went around.”
“We’re all working really hard, but we just kind of started behind the 8-ball. We weren’t ready for practice the other night; we weren’t ready until about 15 minutes left of it. We’re just trying to play catch-up and it’s just biting us.”
The second heat saw a pass coming to the white flag, with Matt Crafton laying the bumper to Chase Briscoe and going on to lead the final two laps over Ben Rhodes and Briscoe.
Crafton will start on the outside of the front row, marking his best-career starting position for the Dirt Derby main event.
Kaz Grala started on the pole of the third heat, leading every lap and beating Ryan Truex to the checkered flag, while 2015 event winner Christopher Bell put on a similar performance in the fourth heat.
Bell topped Caleb Holman, defending series champion Johnny Sauter, Sheldon Creed and Ken Schrader en route to his heat race win.
Grala and Bell will make up row two of the main event starting grid.
Ty Dillon used a massive Turn 3 slide job on the opening lap of the fifth and final heat to pass Noah Gragson on the inside and drive off to a 1.18 second victory, earning the final top-five starting spot for the feature.
RESULTS: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; Eldora Dirt Derby; Eldora Speedway; July 19, 2017
Heat One (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Stewart Friesen, 2. John Hunter Nemechek, 3. Grant Enfinger, 4. Jeffrey Abbey, 5. Justin Shipley / 6. Bobby Pierce, 7. Norm Benning.
Heat Two (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Matt Crafton, 2. Ben Rhodes, 3. Chase Briscoe, 4. Austin Cindric, 5. Max Johnston / 6. Cody Coughlin, 7. Wendell Chavous.
Heat Three (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Kaz Grala, 2. Ryan Truex, 3. Justin Haley, 4. J.J. Yeley, 5. Harrison Burton / 6. Ray Ciccarelli, 7. Tommy Regan.
Heat Four (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Christopher Bell, 2. Caleb Holman, 3. Johnny Sauter, 4. Sheldon Creed, 5. Ken Schrader / 6. Korbin Forrister, 7. JR Heffner (DNS).
Heat Five (10 laps; top five transfer to A-Main): 1. Ty Dillon, 2. Noah Gragson, 3. Rico Abreu, 4. Chris Windom, 5. Brandon Hightower / 6. Mike Harmon (DNS).
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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