Stewart Friesen (44) and Tyler Dippel (1) finished first and second Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Paul Arch photo)
Stewart Friesen (44) and Tyler Dippel (1) finished first and second Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Paul Arch photo)

Truck Experience Proves Handy For Big-Block Stars

BRISTOL, Tenn. – It seemed almost fitting that the top two finishers from Friday night’s Super DIRTcar Series feature at Bristol Motor Speedway both had NASCAR experience at The Last Great Colosseum.

Stewart Friesen and Tyler Dippel ran roughshod over their big-block modified competition at the .526-mile, dirt-covered high banks, with Friesen dominating the second half of the 40-lap race en route to a 7.739-second victory. Dippel never ran worse than third along the way to a runner-up finish.

Fast laps around Bristol were nothing new to either Friesen or Dippel. The former boasts five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts on the concrete surface there, while the latter raced on the Bristol hardtop in both the Truck Series and the former NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (now ARCA Menards Series East).

While some drivers weren’t sure what to expect going into the Bristol Throwdown, Friesen and Dippel tipped that they both relied on skills from their NASCAR days in Thunder Valley, which helped them on the dirt Friday night.

“You could enter hard, but you needed to keep the car underneath you,” Friesen noted. “The bottom was the bottom; you couldn’t really flounder in the middle [of the track] too much. The top was there; it was really, really good … but it was a technical race track and a lot of fun. There’s a lot of similarities [between NASCAR racing at Bristol and running the big-block modifieds]. The truck here on the concrete feels just as fast as the big blocks. You have to keep both hooked up; there’s things that do translate.”

“I think car placement was key, but you just have to be really aggressive here,” Dippel added. “If there was a little bit of a hole, like with [Mike] Mahaney when I got past him by using a lapped car as a pick, you had to take every inch you could here. There were no guarantees that you’d get another shot if you didn’t seize the moment, and I felt like it was similar to that in the Truck Series as well.”

Dippel’s runner-up finish on a dirt-covered Bristol was his best result at the track in any form throughout his career, with his previous Bristol best being a sixth-place finish in the East Series in April of 2018.

While Dippel hasn’t made a Truck Series start since the 2019 season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, he told SPEED SPORT Friday night that he’d like to return to stock-car racing if the right opportunity presented itself.

“I’d like to come back, but I’d want to do it the right way,” tipped the 21-year-old native of Wallkill, N.Y., who has been racing dirt modifieds in the northeast since his hiatus from NASCAR. “I’d hope to race for [a team like] a KBM [Kyle Busch Motorsports], GMS [Racing], ThorSport [Racing] … if we had or get the funding to do it the right way I’d be interested in taking another shot at the pavement side of things.”

As for Friesen, he never pictured his first Bristol victory coming with dirt laid over the famed facility.

“It’s crazy,” said Friesen. “When they put the dirt down, I never thought in a million years that big-blocks would get invited, and then DIRTcar got the nod to do this deal with the late models and the sprint cars and they brought us along. The northeast fans are die-hards, they’ve traveled everywhere with us, and hopefully this is a sign of great things to come for our discipline.

“We almost won a super late model race here, then we almost won a Truck race here, but I never thought I’d get a [Bristol] sword for dirt. I’m darn proud of it, though.”

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