Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – LAS VEGAS, NV – Stewart Friesen’s fifth place finish on Friday night in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas turned a few heads. Not so much for the finish itself but how he and his Halmar-Racing Team performed all night long.
After a disappointing finish in Daytona, Friesen looked to Las Vegas to back up a strong seventh place at Atlanta. He did more than just keep his momentum going. With a stage win and some of the most skilled driving on the track the entire night, a lot of people learned who Friesen was as a racer.
Friday began with qualifying for the Stratosphere 200. Friesen slotted his No. 52 Halmar International/We Build America Chevy Silverado into the outside of the front row. Friesen’s best starting position since Eldora last year when he gained his first Pole. In doing so he out qualified two of three Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyotas in the field, however Busch himself took the top spot.
The tone was quickly set when the race took the green flag Friday evening that this was going to be a barn burner. One of those races you can’t walk away from for fear of missing the most important moment of the night. Friesen held his own. Falling behind the three KBM Toyotas and finishing fourth in stage one.
Stage two was the moment it all seemed to click for Friesen and in the most spectacular of ways. With a good pit stop and good changes to the truck during the segment break’s pit stop, Friesen kept pace with the KBM triumvirate. In third place on the restart, Friesen made a bold move to the inside of Grant Enfinger and Busch’s No.51.
Taking his truck three wide with no room to spare, Friesen snatched the lead away from Busch and the chase was on. Busch did everything in his power over the second stage to find a way past the Big Block Modified star, but to no avail. Placing his truck perfectly in the corners, Friesen was able to break Busch’s momentum multiple times over the last ten laps and took the stage win.
“I want to thank the Big Block boys in the Northeast and the fans for all their support.” Friesen said after the stage win.
Friesen’s truck lost speed in the third stage coming to the finish in fifth place. His first top five and second top ten of the season is another step in the right direction for the team that got its start on the local dirt tracks of the Northeast.
The Halmar-Friesen Racing team will now take a couple weeks off to prepare for the series’ next event on March 24th, with the running of the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 from Martinsville Speedway.