Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – LAS VEGAS, NV – Stewart Friesen has been on the brink of his first NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series win for almost a full season now. The driver of the Halmar-Friesen Racing No. 52 had another opportunity to seize that first checkered flag on Friday night, however early issues and tire strategy would relegate the Canadian native to a fourth place finish.
“We made contact on the start with the 04 there and thankfully the caution came out the car took a set and cut that tire down.” Friesen said.
The No. 04 of Cory Roper was a surprise in qualifying, grabbing the fifth position in the final round. Roper’s lack of experience showed when it came to the race. Initiating the contact between himself and Friesen, then running into the rear of Matt Crafton’s truck, Roper found himself damaged and out of contention by lap seven.
Friesen regrouped from the early troubles and began to pick his way through the field, finishing ninth in stage one.
Stage two brought about an interesting test for the Big Block Modified star. Starting first for stage two after a lightning quick stop on pit road by the HFR crew, Friesen held off Kyle Busch’s advances for most of the stage.
Working the air around his truck, Friesen slowed Busch at every opportunity as he worked to keep his truck in line with Busch’s through the corners to create ‘dirty air.’
This strategy seemed to work for most of the stage, however Ky. Busch managed to find his way past on the exit of turn four.
“We got to race with the best of the best tonight.” Friesen said of the experience.
Stage three was the Achilles heel of the No. 52’s night. With the first stage contact and the blown tire, Friesen’s tire allotment left him with a disadvantage for the race’s final run.
“We just had a mis-matched set after that [blown tire] and had to put them on at the beginning of the third stage and just lost the handle on it.” Friesen said.
Friesen’s strength at Las Vegas has him excited for the upcoming races with the Gander Outdoor Truck Series.
“I’m proud of our team, proud of everyone at Chevy, we’re working really really hard to catch up and get some speed out of these things so GMS fab shop has got a long list of stuff to work on the next couple weeks and I’m proud to be associated with those guys and we’ll march on.”