Last weekend, at ISM Raceway, I had the opportunity to talk with Stewart Friesen on Friday prior to the NGOTS race. We went inside his hauler and talked about several topics that included the truck series, his Eldora victory, the ISM race to come that night, and about what a championship would mean to his team.
I hope that you will get some insight into not only the race car driver, but into Stewart Friesen the man.
Enjoy this one on one.
Stewart Friesen: I am doing good,. The season has been eventful. I have been doing a lot of racing, between the Truck Series racing and the dirt modified in the Northeast, and I have been having a lot of fun.
WorkingOnMyRedneck: How would you grade your truck series racing so far in 2019?
Stewart Friesen: It has been good, it hasn’t been great. We have had a couple of potential wins taken away. But the season has been very consistent, lots of top 5’s and top 10’s. Just in this Round of Six we had a 5th at Talladega and 6th at Martinsville. That has been really good. We kind of averted disaster, unlike a few of the other teams. At Vegas we had some motor problems that we solved and were able to score some points. At Talladega we recovered from penalties to score some critical points. I was spun out at Martinsville, recovered , and was still able to score some points! It has been a tough season, but I am happy where we are at now.
WOMR: Watching the rollercoaster season that you have been a part of, what is the biggest impediment you have had to overcome?
SF: Well we were good a Kentucky, good at Kansas, we were really good a Pocono and then I wrecked on the first turn of the race! I had a really fast truck and screwed that up. So I wished that I could take that one back. I drove it deep into turn one, underneath Austin Hill, and the back just came around. That incident was a live and learn! I had my teammate, Sheldon Creed, behind me and if he could have just pushed a little more we would have gone by Hill going into turn number 1. But at the last moment Hill turned down, Creed backed out, and the back end came around really quickly. I was carrying a lot of speed into turn 1 from the start of the race, I just lost my side force, dragged my splitter on the apron, and a few other things combined sent me around.
WOMR: Just curious, when you drag your splitter on the ground can you hear it?
SF: No you can’t hear it. You just feel it dragging. Mostly you feel it in the steering wheel. Now that is different from hooking your spitter on the apron. When you do that it just hooks the left front and around you go. At ISM Raceway we get the splitter right down on the surface and that makes the steering wheel feel “numb”!
WOMR: So how has the dirt big block modified season going?
SF: It is going really good. I have won a couple of 200’s at Orange County Speedway and Fonda Speedway. I had win last week at Georgetown, but ran out of fuel. So the dirt season has been really strong!
WOMR: Rumor has it that when the number 44 Big Block offloads at a race track that you are the man to beat.is that true?
SF: Well it has been pretty good. We have made a few changes this year, different chassis, and it seems to be handling better. We were searching for something and landed on the Bicknell chassis and has made a difference.
WOMR: My indoctrination to big block modified racing was a Volusia Speedway when I used to go to Daytona in 2009-2016. Do you race there each season when you go to Daytona?
SF: Absolutely. I won the fifty lapper early this season. I will actually be racing a week prior to Volusia in 2020, at All Tech Raceway in Lake City FL. It will be open modifieds which a mixture of big block and small block modifieds on Feb, 8th! (That is a great day……my birthday)
WOMR: You have had several near wins this season. If you could have a do over in the Truck series, which race would it be?
SF: Oh boy (long pause). I would like to do the end of Kansas over again. I messed up the pit stop. It was a scheduled four tire stop and I thought that it was only going to be a two tire stop. so I left early and screwed that up. We were really, really good and probably going to win that race. There are a handful of them. The Kansas race and Pocono race I would like to have back. A couple of weeks ago at Vegas we were really, really strong there and could have won that race.
WOMR: How big was winning Eldora to you?
SF: Oh it was huge! Getting a win in this series is big, having it a Eldora, being a dirt guy, after all Eldora is what got us into this series. Eldora is where I started racing truck three years ago.
WOMR: Was it a long night after winning Eldora?
SF: Yes it was. Since we ran the modified the night before, all my friends and peers were there, so it was a great victory! It was so sweet to win that race with everyone there! My family was there and Chris Larson from Halmar was there. So it was perfect!
WOMR: Stewart what is on your 2020 calendar? Are you back in the same truck team?
SF: That is what we are looking at, but there are some different irons in the fire, as well. I am fortunate to have a great sponsor with Halmar and Chris Larson associated with this race team. We will see where we end up next year.
WOMR: May I see you in the Xfinity Series races in 2020?
SF: We shall see where we end up. This racing is market driven. Like I said I am really lucky to partnered up with Chris (Larson, Halmar International). He has been a great partner on and off the race track, pavement and dirt. It has really been fun to race with Chris.
WOMR: So then is it safe to say that you trying to put together a full truck season in 2020?
SF: That is what we are looking at now.
WOMR: What would winning the championship at Homestead mean to you?
SF: Oh man that would be awesome. That would be the culmination of a lot of hard work, That would be a great reward for the investment. Just a couple of years ago we were just getting our feet wet. To be competing for a championship is big. It has be so exciting to do that this year. We have had a lot of fast trucks this year. Now we have been consistent and have that opportunity. It might not take a winner at Homestead, it just might take consistency.
WOMR: How is your truck today at ISM Raceway?
SF: (With a REALLY HUGE grin he let me know that he had the truck to beat!!) It is really good and it is pretty fast!
Little did I know that he wasn’t just being optimistic the Halmar Friesen Racing truck was the fastest hot rod on the track last Friday night. He showed me and the rest of the spectators that a penalty for jumping the start wasn’t enough to deter him from winning the race.
Friesen was put to the back of the pack on the restart and, like they say up New York, he systematically went through the field like a warm knife through butter! He did drive his truck into Victory Lane, hoisted the hardware, and now it is on to Homestead!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK