RPW Exclusive: Late Pit Stop Miscue May Have Cost Stewart Friesen His First NASCAR Truck Series Win

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – SPARTA, KY – It was a night that Stewart Friesen should be proud of.  He tied his career best finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, this time at Kentucky Speedway.  However, you’d never know it by the look in his eyes after the race.

Friesen, who led two times for a total of 37 laps, was in front when teams began to make their final pit stops of the night.  The Halmar Friesen Racing (HFR) crew decided to take two tires and fuel when they came in, giving up a three-second lead, while second-place Ben Rhoades did a gas-only stop.  Rhoades got off the pit road first, however, because Stewart stalled his truck exiting.

That was the difference.

“I just didn’t get off pit road as well as I should have,” Friesen said after the race.  “I probably gave up a little getting on pit road as well.  It was the difference of 100 yards and a bunch of clean air.”

Coming out behind Rhoades, knowing he had better tires than the #41 Ford, Friesen got up on the wheel and tried to get back to the leader’s rear bumper.  It was this hustle that may have worn the #52 Halmar International Chevrolet out and put both drivers back on an even playing field.

“For whatever reason, I don’t know if we beat our left front tire up on that long run, but the truck got real tight on both ends of the track,” he said.  “I don’t know if clean air would have helped us but Ben looked pretty neutral.  Congrats to him, Eddie (Troconis, Rhodes’ Crew Chief) and those guys.  They’re a great bunch but we’ll come back.”

Up next for the team is a trip the famed Eldora Speedway for the Dirt Derby, an event Friesen is really looking forward to.

“We’re pretty excited for Eldora next week,” he said.  “I know we’ll be good there, but dang, we want to get a win on one of these pavement tracks.  We’ll keep working at it.”

The Truck Series event at Kentucky was a single-day show for the teams, meaning practice, qualifying and the race were all run on the same day.  During knockout qualifying, the HFR guys had to work very hard after problems set in.

“My crew and the GMS guys worked their butts off today,” Friesen said.  “We had an engine problem during time trials and everyone stepped in to help.  Guys from the 2, 21, 25 and the 24 (all of the GMS Racing teams) and my HFR bunch got to work and thrashed.  It was awesome because we had less than an hour to get everything swapped over and they all did a great job.”

No matter the outcome, Friesen was quick to thank those who support his operation.

I have to thank my Halmar Friesen team, the GMS team, Halmar International, Chris Larson and everyone behind this program,” he said.  “They work so hard to give me everything I need to win.  I know we’ll get there, but I can’t thank them enough for their effort.”