DIRT MODS: Stewart Friesen Doubles Up At Utica-Rome; Takes Modified and Sprint Car Wins

RaceChaser Staff Asphalt Modifieds, Northeast, Sprints & Midgets 0 Comments

VERNON, NY — official speedway release — Defending Modified track champion Stewart Friesen has a lot of memorable moments during his career and this past Sunday evening he added another to his collection.  Doing double duty in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds and the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints, Friesen was able to sweep victory lane in both on Sunoco Race Fuels and Gates-Cole Insurance night in front a packed grandstand.  Mike Walton took his first career win in the Sportsman ranks while Tom Denton found victory lane for the third time in the Pro Stocks.  Russ Marsden made it two wins in a row in the Pure Stocks.

The Modified feature event started with Tim Mayne on the pole and Ryan Phelps to his outside. Phelps took off at the start, jumping to the outside groove and taking the lead away from the pole sitter. Matt Sheppard would also pass Mayne and take second behind Phelps.  Sheppard began to apply pressure to Phelps, and on lap three, Sheppard slid below Phelps and took the lead.  Phelps again came under fire soon after, as Larry Wight, who had started the race in tenth, passed seven cars in the first three circuits to find himself in the third spot.

Meanwhile, the winner of the Empire Super Sprint A-Main earlier in the evening, Stewart Friesen, was beginning to make his charge as he was looking for his first Modified feature win of the season.  After starting sixth, Friesen made some moves to the front and took second away from Phelps on lap 13. Sheppard had built a sizable lead, but he was catching up to the slower traffic at the rear of the field, and Friesen began to take advantage.

With 10 to go, Friesen had closed in on the leader.  Sheppard had been running the bottom the entire race, but the rear of the field was running the same line, forcing the leader to shift to the middle of the surface to lap slower cars.  In that lane, Sheppard seemed to slow a bit, which allowed Friesen to close the gap between the two.  With five remaining, Friesen caught Sheppard while he was still caught in the middle.  Coming off of turn two, the duo in front were side by side as they entered the west end of the speedway.  Both drivers dove to the bottom, but Friesen was able to get there first and push it back the leader back toward the middle.  At the line, Friesen was the new leader and began to pull away from Sheppard and take the checkered flags for the second time, completing his sweep of both the Empire Super Sprints and the Modifieds.  Sheppard finished in second, with Ryan Phelps, Danny Varin, and Larry Wight rounded out the top five.  Pat Ward, Mike Mahaney, Danny Johnson, Anthony Perrego, and Billy Decker crossed the line behind them.

The Sportsman 20 lap main event start with Mike Richmond leading the opening lap from his outside front row starting, but on the second circuit it was Mike Walton vaulting to the lead after starting fifth on the grid.  While Walton was out front, the battle for the rest of the top was going on behind him between Brandon Walters, Claude Hutchings Jr., Jeremy Vunk, and Jack Miller. As the race wore on, it was Vunk who worked his way up to second after starting 14th and the chase was on to catch the leader Walton.  With five to go, Vunk was all over Walton for the lead as he was able to nearly pull alongside him on a couple of occasions.  Even with a restart with one lap to go, Walton proved to be too strong as he took his first career win over Vunk, Walters, Hutchings, and Miller.  Walters later failed post race technical inspection, giving Richmond his first career top five finish.

Corie Locke led the first two laps of the 20 lap Pro Stock feature event from his pole starting spot, until ninth place starter Mark Effner rocketed to the point.  Following Effner to the front was point leader Tom Denton who was up to second by lap three after starting 11th on the field.  Denton slowing reeled in the leader Effner, and after some side by side racing, Denton was able to take the lead on lap seven.  Denton would remain there for the rest of the race to take his third win of the season over Effner, AJ Digsby, Glenn Forward, and Bret Belden.

Bill Mason led the seven circuits of the 15 lap Pure Stock main event from his front row starting spot, but by lap eight the race would see a new leader.  Russ Marsden, who started eighth, was up to second by lap four and pressuring Mason for the top spot soon after. At the halfway point, Marsden became the new leader and would race to his second consecutive win followed by Ricky Breed, Mason, Ron Hawker, and Rob Thieme.

The month of June for the Utica-Rome Speedway kicks off with a regular show of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing with a full show of Modified, Sportsman, Pro Stocks, and Pure Stocks. The June 1 program will be sponsored by Rasmussen Rents and HR Refuse with gates opening at 3:30 p.m. and racing at 6 p.m.  For more information, please log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.

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