BARBERVILLE, Fla. — For the second consecutive night, Stewart Friesen charged to victory with the Super DIRTcar Series big-block modifieds at Volusia Speedway Park’s 50th DIRTcar Nationals on Wednesday.
A field of 32 big-block modifieds took the green flag Wednesday night to start the second series feature of 2021, and after picking up his second Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award in two days and convincingly winning his heat race, Friesen redrew sixth to start the feature. With Mat Williamson, Jack Lehner, Erick Rudolph, Billy Decker, Matt Sheppard and more in his midst, Friesen had his work cut out for him in the 30-lap Feature.
“We had a plan coming into this,” said Friesen. “If you want the plan to work you gotta work the plan and it’s paid off.”
The hard work and wins have paid off indeed as Friesen collected his second $4,000 check at the DIRTcar Nationals.
The fastest racing lines went high to low, low to high, and everywhere in between. Drivers had their choices to make passes happen.
“This is a very technical and challenging race track right now,” noted Friesen. “It’s kind of like mogul skiing on ice. You gotta try to get the car loaded up right. If you miss it, it shoves, but if you get it loaded up this thing was on the money.”
In the first half of the race, Friesen and his No. 44 Halmar Racing big-block were forced to watch the top-five battle door-to-door. Then lapped traffic came into play and remained a factor as there was only a single caution flag for the big blocks all evening.
“I was just trying to see which way those guys [lapped cars] were going,” said Friesen. “It’s super slick in spots and in other spots you think it’s slick, but it turns out to be gripped up. Watching Max [McLaughlin] and Erick [Rudoloph] dice there and I got passed and lost a bunch of spots. Jack [Lehner] and Maresca got back by me. It was an awesome race track. I was just trying to find different lines and move around.”
Rudolph started third behind the formidable front row of Williamson and Lehner. Rudolph had an excellent initial start and immediately took the fight to the front row starters. After dispatching Lehner, he got alongside the defending Series champion Williamson.
Williamson and Rudolph drove cleanly side-by-side for several laps before Rudolph took over the top spot only to be assailed by Max McLaughlin in the No. 32C. McLaughlin and Rudolph went toe-to-toe but the No. 25R built a lead in lapped traffic.
“We started third and were able to wrestle away the lead from Williamson,” said Rudolph. “It seemed like we were able to work lapped traffic pretty good and I really didn’t want to see the caution come out, but it made a race out of it. Friesen got by me and we were about the same speed but the race played into his favor tonight.”
After a caution flag came out for a stalled out No. 19 of Tim Fuller, Friesen pounced and worked the middle of the track and the outside to make the pass on Rudolph.
Maresca struggled in the first night of Series action. However, his No. 7MM came back on Wednesday with some important shock changes that helped the balance of the car. Maresca drove up from the sixth-place starting position, passing Lehner, Mclaughlin, and Williamson in the process.
1. 44-Stewart Friesen [$4,000]; 2. 25-Erick Rudolph [$2,000]; 3. 7MM-Michael Maresca [$1,000]; 4. 32C-Max McLaughlin [$800]; 5. 91-Billy Decker [$700]; 6. 21A-Peter Britten [$650]; 7. 2-Jack Lehner [$600]; 8. 20-Brett Hearn [$550]; 9. 9S-Matt Sheppard [$500]; 10. 1D-Tyler Dippel [$450]; 11. 88-Mat Williamson [$400]; 12. 4-Billy VanInwegen [$375]; 13. 30-Ryan Godown [$350]; 14. 6-Matt Stangle [$325]; 15. 19M-Jessey Mueller [$300]; 16. 16X-Dan Creeden [$300]; 17. 118-Jim Britt [$300]; 18. 14-CG Morey [$300]; 19. 26-Derrick McGrew [$300]; 20. 88T-Tyler Jashembowski [$300]; 21. 46-Jeremy Smith [$300]; 22. 8-Rich Scagliotta [$300]; 23. 17D-Marcus Dinkins [$300]; 24. 23-Kyle Coffey [$300]; 25. 48T-Dave Rauscher [$300]; 26. 1-Darwin Greene [$300]; 27. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$300]; 28. 17-Rob Pitcher [$300]; 29. 19-Tim Fuller [$300]; 30. B52-Brandon Hightower [$300]; 31. 33T-Cass Bennett [$300]; 32. 01W-Justin Wright [$300]