Column By: DYLAN FRIEBEL / RPW – ROSSBURG, OH – When the trucks rolled into the Eldora Speedway on Tuesday, all eyes in the northeast dirt world were on, who we would call our “Dirt Ringers” in the form of Stewart Friesen, Max McLaughin, JR Heffner, and Tyler Dippel.
Let’s see how they fared during the day at the famed Rossburg, OH oval.
In the opening practice session, Myatt Snyder topped the leaderboard with Friesen close behind in second. McLaughin was 10th with Dippel 11th and Heffner rounding out our locals in 25th. However, in 10-lap average, Dippel was fourthv, Mad Max 7th, Heffner 13th and Friesen 17th.
In second practice, it was one of the favorites to win the event, Stewart Friesen, at the top of charts followed by Sheldon Creed. Dippel was ninth, McLaughin 26th and Heffner 29th.
In 10-lap average, Dippel was fifth, Heffner seventh, Friesen ninth and Max 19th.
I had the chance to catch up with all four local drivers after final practice and Tyler Dippel seemed to be the happiest of the bunch
“Our truck was good today,” Dippel said. “We weren’t fast on the time chart. We didn’t go up and bang the boards like it took to run a quick lap, but when it slicked up we were one of the best.”
Dippel drew on his Modified roots to help him when the track conditions changed.
“We run the big blocks up in New York and the tracks get slick like this,” he said. “That helped us a lot. It’s like an ice skating rink out there…no grip with these big heavy trucks and you have to pedal it. We are good enough to have a solid top 5 truck when it slicks off.”
JR Heffner was also happy with his truck and didn’t have many complaints about it
“Our truck is stable,” he said. “I like where we are for Wednesday. We’ve got a good balance in the truck.”
For the first time in a NASCAR Truck Series machine, Max McLaughlin was happy with how his first practice went, but seemed to struggle in the second
“We were good early on today,” McLaughlin said. “We struggled when it slicked off and had to basically change the whole setup. We got better at the end. I could run right through the black and pass some trucks. The times didn’t show it but we have a pretty good truck here.”
Stewart Friesen, the odds-on favorite to win the event, had every reason to hold his head high.
“We put up some good numbers early when the track had some bite,” Friesen said. “But that’s the easy part right?”
Even with being good early, the driver from Sprakers, NY made some key changes to help with the balance of his truck during round two of practice.
“We were a couple tenths off the majority of good trucks in second practice and took a few swings at it,” he said. “We were there with some of best at the end of practice. We want to take care of this thing and be there at the end when they pay the money.”
They say you have to lose one before you can win one. Well, Friesen is using lessons from last season’s Dirt Derby to hopefully get his first career win on the Truck Series Wednesday night.
“I made a mistake last week (At Kentucky) and we learned through it,” he said. “We want to win and were trying as hard as we could, but my wife (race car standout Jessica Friesen) gave me some advice. She told me to relax and have fun with it, and that’s what we are going to do. There are some guys that have done their homework though. If we had this truck last year we would have been lights out. Gilliand, Windom and Dippel are all fast but we are right there with them.”