GAFFNEY, S.C. – Stewart Friesen ran down Larry Wight en route to winning Saturday’s Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series feature at Cherokee Speedway.
The victory, his second in three days with the series, was worth $4,000.
The 40-lap feature got off to a rough start, with the caution flag waving twice before the field could even complete a lap and then again after one lap was completed. The first of those cautions was the result of a melee in turn one, which Friesen had a front row seat for.
“There was a little bit of a water hole in (turn) two that started to run in, but I got it and slipped and everybody was kind of everywhere,” said Friesen, who was competing at Cherokee Speedway for the first time. “There was a little bit of traction on the top, but not very much. It was tough.”
When the action finally got underway Wight took off from the pole, which he earned courtesy of a redraw, while Friesen started seventh. It didn’t take Friesen long to get to the front, with the Canadian driver moving into third before a caution waved on lap five for the slow car of Andy Bachetti.
On the ensuing restart Friesen moved into second by bypassing Alan Johnson. He quickly set his sights on Wight and began challenging for the race lead, but the pace was slowed again when Mike Franz brought out the caution flag.
Wight shot out to a quick lead when the green flag waved again, but Friesen stayed within a few car lengths for several laps before he began closing in and challenging for the lead again.
Friesen made the decisive move on the 28th lap, driving just a little lower through turns one and two to get alongside Wight. He completed the pass down the backstretch, clearing Wight as the duo raced into turn three.
“He was just giving up the bottom a little bit on entry (in turn one), but then he’d beat me off and then he’d beat me in (turns) three and four when I tried to roll the bottom,” Friesen explained. “I was kind of able to get rolling around the top of four and at least get to his bumper getting into (turn) one and he slipped up enough and I was able to fill the hole.”
One more caution flag with five laps left in the feature couldn’t slow Friesen, who jetted out to a big lead and crossed the finish line clear of all challengers.
The event on Saturday night was the first time fans were welcomed back to the South Carolina three-eighths-mile dirt oval since the COVID-19 pandemic began in mid-March. It was also the first time the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series had ever visited the facility.
“Thanks to the staff here and thanks to all the great race fans. It was really cool to race with a full grandstand and a lot of people here in the facility,” Friesen said. “Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”
Friesen, who also won Thursday’s Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series event at North Carolina’s Tri-County Race Track, will now turn his attention to Tuesday’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event will be the first for the Truck Series since Feb. 21.
“It’s got me in a little bit better shape I think, getting back to fighting shape,” Friesen said about running three races in as many days. “Hopefully we can go put it on them on Tuesday as well.”
Erick Rudolph slipped by Wight on the final restart to finish second. Wight settled for third, followed by Australian Peter Britten and Danny Creeden.
In other action, Tim Hartman Jr. won the Short Track Super Series Crate 602 Sportsman 35-lap feature to earn a $1,500 payday. Monk Gulledge picked up the victory in the local Run What You Brung class.
Stewart Friesen, Erick Rudolph, Larry Wight, Peter Britten, Danny Creeden, Billy Decker, Tyler Dippel, Matt Sheppard, Danny Bouc, Danny Johnson, Brett Tonkin, Allison Ricci, Mike Maresca, David Schilling, Jessica Friesen, Kyle Weiss, Anthony Perrego, Alex Yankowski, Richie Pratt Jr., J.R. Hulburt, Tyler Siri, Mike Franz, Alan Johnson, Danny Tyler, Andy Bachetti, Barry White, Jeff Strunk, H.J. Bunting.