Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – KANSAS CITY, KS – It was yet another great run on a Friday night for Stewart Friesen…except this one was running a NASCAR Truck against Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates in Kansas City instead of Brett Hearn and Kenny Tremont in Malta.
Friesen and his Halmar International team started the 37 Kind Days 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway from the eighth spot and were one of the best trucks all night. The Sprakers, NY driver was able to get points in both the first and second stages, and lead two times during the event for a total of six laps.
However, outside of his solid run and fourth career top five finish in the truck series, it will be the close quarters racing with Busch 23 laps from the end of the race that people will talk about.
After the final round of pit stops had started, Friesen and Busch had worked their way to being two of the top three trucks that could make it the rest of the way on fuel. Along with eventual winner Noah Gragson, the two knew they were fighting for what could have been the win.
Coming off of turn four, Friesen’s #52 got loose as he exited the corner, and Busch was right there. The KBM #4 was forced to the infield, making brief contact with the grass but both were able to continue.
In the end, Gragson past both drivers went on to win the race. Busch got by Stewart for second, but the Halmar driver was thrilled with this run.
“That was fun out there tonight but I apologize to Kyle,” Friesen said. “I didn’t mean to run him down in the grass but if you let these guys eat you up, they eat you up every week. I was just trying my hardest to keep them back there and do what we could to get the win.”
Friesen had an idea that his Tripp Bruce-lead team had worked the right strategy to put him in right position to possibly get his first career Truck Series win, but didn’t bank on Gragson’s strategy.
“I kind of figured that was going to be for the win after everything cycled through,” he said. “I didn’t realize the 18 got four tires there at the end and he was just a rocket ship after that.”
Friesen and Busch both took two tires on the last stop.
Another issue that Friesen had was with his transmission’s shifter, under caution while he was leading. The shifter’s knob broke off and caused a little commotion inside the driver’s compartment.
“The knob broke right off the handle and I was concerned about it possibly rolling under the gas pedal,” he said. “I was trying to save fuel at the time and it just cycled the motor so it wouldn’t re-fire. I had to kill the power and totally recycle the system and it re-fired. Unfortunately we lost a few spots but we battled back.”
Knowing he’s living out something he’s wanted for his whole life, Friesen was quick to thank everyone involved with his team for the effort they continue to put forth week in and week out on the NASCAR Truck Series tour.
“I’m super proud of our Halmar team,” he said. “Thanks to Chris Larson (owner of the team and Halmar International) for everything he’s done for me. Getting to this level is something I never dreamed of…being able to competing against these guys and contenting for wins now. Thanks to the GMS (Racing). They’re fab shop is second-to-none, Chevrolet and everyone there is behind us 100%. I appreciate that too and can’t thank everyone enough.”
Now, it’s on to the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We’ll take this truck and turn it around to run at Charlotte next week which I’m really excited about,” he said. “This team will just keep rolling on. I would love to win one of these races one of these days, but to be honest, I’m just happy to be here too.”