Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – KANSAS CITY, KS – Three laps. That’s all that separated Stewart Friesen from his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night. The Halmar-Friesen Racing team had dominated practice and qualified 6th earlier in the day and quickly moved to the front at the race’s start.
Falling back on the initial restart, Friesen charged to second place in just 3 laps. By halfway through the first stage Friesen had taken the lead and cruised to a first stage win.
The second stage was a slightly harder struggle for the northeast modified star, as set up adjustments and a cooling track changed the handling of the vehicles. Friesen stated that his truck had tightened up at the end of stage two, after taking a much harder fought win and the stage points.
The race’s third and final stage saw Friesen struggle to make it back to the front and he slotted into second place behind Grant Enfinger’s No. 98. As the field came down for their final stops, Friesen’s crew made what turned out to be a fatal error. Friesen came to the attention of his crew and though Friesen came and went without penalty and gained the lead in the pit cycle, word soon came through that a miscommunication on pit road would make his trip to victory lane much more difficult.
As the crew of Friesen’s truck completed the right side tire change, Friesen sped off on two fresh tires only to get the word that it was supposed to be a four tire stop. Now down on fresh rubber and fuel, Friesen needed to manage his resources to claim his first win.
Two consecutive cautions helped Friesen to stretch his fuel and with a firm grasp of the lead, all looked to be in his favor. However with three laps remaining the tank ran dry. Friesen slowed giving the lead to Ross Chastain to pick up his first Truck Series victory.
“Just a bunch of miscommunication between me and Tripp [Bruce]. It goes back a couple weeks. Said Friesen. “We’ll work on it and get better. We had a fast hot rod. Thanks to all my great car owners I’ve drove for over the years and allowed me to get to this level. It’s all thanks to them, so we’ll be back.”
With a run like Friday night’s one has to wonder how much more it will take for Friesen to finally break through and have a mistake free race. The car, the team and certainly the driver are capable.
“I have no idea. We’ll keep working.”