NAPA Super DIRT Week Preview: Newlywed Friesen In Search Of 3rd Syracuse 200

Steven Ovens Asphalt Modifieds, Dirt Modifieds, Dirt Track Racing, Featured, Northeast, Southeast, Sprints & Midgets, Super DIRTcar Series 0 Comments

SYRACUSE, NY — Story by Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — Photos by Jeremiah Fish — One driver that everyone will have their eyes on in 2014 at ‘The Moody Mile’ is that of Canada’s Stewart Friesen.  Of course, Canada was Stewart’s former home as he now calls Sprakers, NY home with his new bride Jessica Zemken-Friesen.  The couple was married on a Thursday evening just before the $10,000-to-win Cole Cup 360 Sprint Car Showdown where the newlyweds finished 1-2 with the male half taking the victory.

It’s safe to say that Friesen has made just as big a name for himself in the 360 Sprints as he has on the Modified circuit this season.  We all expect Friesen to be good in the modified- he’s tied with Matt Sheppard for most Modified wins this season with 22.  The pair has continued a rivalry that reared it’s head at Utica-Rome, on the Race of Champions Dirt Modified Series, the Super DIRTcar Series and Brett Deyo’s Short Track Super Series.  But headed to Syracuse, Friesen has another form of race car that is going to take away some of his attention- a USAC car.

“When we heard the Silver Crown race was going to happen I tried to beat down every door I could to get in one of those cars,” said Friesen during a Fan/Media Q&A session on September 30th.  “Rob (Hart) reached out to me and he thought he might have a couple of leads.  It came together in the last couple weeks.”

The great part about Friesen’s USAC deal is that not only will he be in the field for the Salt City 78, he will be in top-notch equipment.  Friesen will be piloting the same Silver Crown car that Christopher Bell piloted at the Four Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway just a few weeks ago.  Friesen has a great chance to sweep the USAC Silver Crown Salt City 78, Small-Block Modified Salute to the Troops 150 and Big-Block Modified Syracuse 200.  It appears those three races will be the focus.

“Right now, nothing is scheduled for the satellite races.  We’re going to concentrate on the small-block and big-block races plus the Silver Crown race.  It’s tough.  If you had three extra guys to dedicate to the satellite races it would be doable, but you need all the manpower you can get at Syracuse.”

Friesen UR sprinter jFish

Turning attention to the Syracuse 200, Friesen has 2 wins in the 200 in 2010 and 2011.  He was the very first Canadian to win the Syracuse 200 which is pretty impressive when you think of the names ‘North of the Border’ who have driven at Syracuse- Plazek, Bicknell, Poirier among others.

“Being the first Canadian was special.  To be that guy who got in there, there’s so many Canadian dirt modified fans and to give them bragging rights was pretty cool.  To be the first one from north of the border to get it done was very, very special.”

Friesen and team did it in pretty impressive fashion too.  Both races eventually came to fuel mileage and they outlasted some of the best in the business to do it.  They completely baffled the Heinke-Baldwin Racing team with driver Jimmy Phelps in 2010.  Phelps’ team knew Friesen was going to run out of fuel.  With under 20 laps to go, they were telling their driver to wait for the 44 car to run out of gas- it never happened.  That fuel mileage run is solely responsible for making Friesen the first Canadian winner and is the reason why Phelps is still searching for his first Syracuse 200 victory.

The 44 team had a rocket ship last year on the mile and would have a solid run all day long.  The new wrinkle in the rules making the last 25 laps be run under green flag conditions ended up biting Friesen in the end and handing the lead and the win over to Watertown, NY’s Billy Dunn.  That wrinkle in the rules isn’t something that concerns Stewart as they prepare for 2014.

“That is something we have talked about,” said Friesen when asked if their strategy will change this year.  “The cars that were fastest ultimately ran out of gas.  An out of the box pit strategy won the race.  We’re not banking on that, we’ll probably do the same thing we did last year- get up front and get in clean air.”

Believe me when I tell you race fans, I think there is the potential for a lot of drama in this year’s Syracuse 200.  We did have a few more caution flags late in the race that worked into Billy Dunn’s favor with his pit strategy.  But that 2-stop strategy is one that a lot more crew chiefs are going to have to put into the realm of possibility after what Dunn’s crew pulled off in 2013.  Friesen has a great shot at sweeping his races on the mile next week and nobody will be one bit surprised if he ends up doing just that.

Stay tuned to RaceChaserOnline.com and our podcast affiliates at Turn 5 Live to keep up to speed as they provide ‘blowout the budget coverage’ all week long from ‘The Moody Mile.’

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