Stewart Friesen’s Last Lap Pass Made ESS History at Thunder Mountain Speedway

ess 2011 empire super sprints
Stewart Friesen. - Image courtesy of ESS
Stewart Friesen. – Image courtesy of ESS

From Mike Mallett

Center Lisle, NY — (August 30, 2014) —  Stewart Friesen accomplished yet another historic feat on Saturday night at the Thunder Mountain Speedway. The Sprakers, N.Y., driver captured the 25-lap Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint A-Main event making him the first ever driver to win at the bullring. Friesen picked up over $2,000 for his win which came as part of the E&V Energy Tour of the States series.

Friesen used a last lap pass of current series point leader Steve Poirier to secure the win for his Doug Emery Motorsports team.

“I have to thank Doug Emery and Barb Patterson a lot for this opportunity,” said Friesen. “It’s super. Anytime Brett Deyo gets involved in a promotion and now with sprint cars it’s a good thing. It is a pleasure to be here and a great event. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Dave Axton and Poirier brought the field to the start of the race with Poirier heading to the top side to take the race lead as the field charged into the first corner. Poirier worked the high groove off the exit of turn two allowing him to keep the lead down the backstretch.

Over the first few laps Axton remained close to Poirier has he remained in a close battle for second with Matt Tanner and the seventh place starter Friesen. Friesen worked the lower lane while Axton and Tanner stayed through in the middle of the racing groove.

Poirier began to stretch the advantage by lap eight as the race for the runner-up spot intensified between Axton and Friesen. Friesen got under Tanner for third then on lap 10 he wrestled second from Axton who promptly passed him back a lap later. At the halfway point it was Friesen just edging in front of Axton for second was Poirier remained the leader.

Before lap 14 could be completed a caution changed the course of the race as Tim Axton slowed on the frontstretch with a broken driveshaft in his No. 99A ride. At this point Poirier was the leader over Friesen, Axton, Tanner and Hebing.

Poirier elected to use the bottom lane for the double-file restart and it worked to his advantage as he was able to work the bottom then slide to the middle in turns one and two in order to keep Friesen behind him as they drove into turns one and two.

Poirier and Friesen charged away as the race for third heated up between Tanner, Hebing and Pennsylvania invader Aaron Ott. The trio swapped the position multiple-times before the lap 18 mark with Tanner eventually solidifying the spot.

Poirier got to traffic with five laps remaining allowing Friesen to begin his assault. Friesen continued to work the low lane while Poirier began struggling in the middle of the track. Friesen used the moisture on the bottom to close in as the laps neared completion.

“You kind of got to go where he’s not in a situation like that,” stated Friesen. “He had the top three-quarters of the track filled up so we had to make it work on the bottom.”

As Poirier and Friesen came off the fourth turn to take the white flag Friesen made his move to the bottom. He got a great run off the fourth corner and he used that to get into one on the bottom before Poirier could get to the top. He then slid up the track in front of Poirier as they raced off of turn two in order to take the lead. Poirier came back at him on the outside of turns three and four but it was to no avail as Friesen held him off with his Donath Motor Worx powered Eagle.

“I didn’t think we were going to get him,” said Friesen. “We ran neck and neck there and he had some good clean air. I kept trying to work the bottom, work the bottom. I don’t know if the tire just came around the last couple of laps or what but it really took off for us. I didn’t know what lap it was but I was having a hell of a time out there.”

Poirier’s second place effort was good enough to help him retain the overall point lead as the Quebec driver vies for his fifth series championship. In Victory Lane Poirier admitted that he couldn’t get the drive off the corner that he needed to at the end of the event.

“Before caution I saw him sneak by me a little on the inside,” commented Poirier. “The longer run we got looser. I tried to move the wing back a little bit. I thought I could hold for the last couple of laps but he was a little bit better than us tonight. Car was good in feature we just needed a little bit more grip out of the corner.”

Tanner, of Stephentown, N.Y., backed up his strong effort in Quebec with another solid outing. Tanner was able to keep Ott behind him to grab the final spot on the podium at the checkered.

“Saw his nose wing there on the bottom so I started protecting it,” stated Tanner about the race with Ott. “I could hear him out there but I never saw him again. This is a real good effort for tonight. We were fast all night. We missed it a little in the feature. We got a little tight in the feature when we got the wing back. At least we stayed in touch with Stewie (Friesen) and Steve.”

Ott crossed the line in the fourth position after starting in the 12th spot and Hebing, the dash winner on the night, finished in the fifth position.

Lucas Oil A-Main – Stewart Friesen ($2,188), Steve Poirier, Matt Tanner, Aaron Ott, Chuck Hebing, Jeff Cook, Dave Axton, Jason Barney, Paul Kinney, George Suprick, Cory Sparks, Parker Evans, Clint Ide, Mike Stelter, Rob Dietrick, Tim Axton, Sammy Reakes IV.

Lap Leaders – Poirier 1-24, Friesen 25

Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 1 – Reakes IV, Kinney, D. Axton, T. Axton, Ide, Dietrick
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 2 – Sparks, Cook, Suprick, Poirier, Evans, Barney
Car Mate Custom Built Trailers Heat 3 – Friesen, Hebing, Tanner, Ott, Stelter.

Lap Money – Poirier ($412), Friesen ($13)
Westward Painting Company 2nd place Halfway – Friesen $100
Insinger Performance Hard Charger – Barney (9 pos.) $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Hebing $50
Lacaillade Masonry In Memorial Of Kevin Ward Jr. – Ide $50
Car Mate Custon Built Trailers Heats – Reakes IV, Sparks, Friesen $25
In Memory of Kevin Ward Halfway – Poirier $113