Stewart Friesen Nips Paul Kinney to win ESS Speedweek Finale at Utica-Rome; Steve Poirier crowned Champion by Seven Points over Chuck Hebing
By MIKE MALLETT
VERNON, NY – Stewart Friesen had a win stolen from him with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints on Friday night on the last lap. On Sunday night he returned the favor as he made a late race pass of his own to claim his first series win of the season in the SUNY Canton Central New York Speedweek presented by Einstein Construction Group finale at the Utica-Rome Speedway.
The win earned Friesen $2,050 for his efforts in the 25-lap NAPA Auto Parts Tour of the U.S/SUNY Canton Series Event. It was his tenth career win which moved him one win ahead of his wife Jessica Zemken on the all-time win list and it was his fifth at the half-mile facility which he’s the all-time winner in the Modified division.
“I didn’t want to walk home again,” said Friesen jokingly in Victory Lane. “I have to thank Jessica (Zemken) and Corr Pak Merchandising for putting me in this car. I’m just trying to keep the seat warm for the time being. My wife does an awesome job with this race team. She does a tremendous job with this race car. She’s one of the best crew-chiefs in the business. She’s doing an excellent job. I’m so proud of her and this race team.”
Steve Poirier ended up finishing in the eighth position, a few spots better than Chuck Hebing allowing him to pick up his first Speedweek title by just seven points. It was an improbable comeback for the Quebec native after his week started off with a destroyed race car at the Brewerton Speedway.
“The week started pretty rough and the last two years have not been our best moments during the season,” said Poirier. “I’m really surprised to get out of here with the championship. I’m very proud of what we accomplished.”
In the feature Dylan Swiernik took the lead at the green from his third starting position. He immediately was challenged by Friesen as he got to second from the fifth spot on lap two. The pair exchanged slide jobs in the opening laps with Friesen taking the lead on the top of turns three and four on lap four.
On lap seven Friesen caught the back end of the field and began lapping cars. Before the traffic got too heavy the caution was displayed on lap eight as Chad Miller slowed on the top of turn four. Friesen led when racing resumed with Paul Kinney coming up from 13th starting spot to grab the runner-up position. Friesen and Kinney raced away from the field as a battle began for third between Larry Wight and Poirier.
At the halfway point of the feature it was Friesen working the high-side while Kinney stayed at the very bottom of the speedway. This allowed him to stay right with Friesen and eventually pull even with him on lap 15. One lap later he made the pass for the lead.
Kinney’s move for the top spot forced Friesen to alter his line on the racing surface. Friesen utilized his knowledge of the speedway to find a different line allowing him to close back in on Kinney. With 20 laps complete Friesen was just a car length behind Kinney.
Friesen made his move on lap 24. He went to the middle of turns one and two while Kinney stayed on the bottom. As they exited turn two Friesen edged in front by a nose. They remained glued together down the backstretch and stayed even as they race through turns three and four. As they crossed the line it was Friesen just in front.
“I was cruising there, the car felt good and all of a sudden the 19 car came by me on the bottom,” stated Friesen. “I couldn’t hit that line. We kind of searched around a little bit and moved the wing. I got it tight enough through the middle that we were able to roll up on him again.”
Before lap 25 could be completed Miller spun a second time in turn two necessitating a yellow flag and one final restart.
Friesen chose the bottom of the speedway for the restart with Kinney alongside. Kinney stayed with Friesen into turns one and two before Friesen pulled away on the backstretch. He held the lead for the final two turns for the win.
“Anything can happen on these restarts,” commented Friesen. “These things are such animals and they can blow the tires off in a moment’s notice. I knew I wanted to get a clean start off the bottom of four and get to the middle and hopefully he couldn’t slide me in one in two. The thing responded and we held him off so I’ll take it.”
Kinney, of Canastota, N.Y., ended up in the second spot which was his best finish of the week. He was extremely disappointed that he wasn’t able to hold on for the feature win which would have been his first ever at Utica-Rome.
“It was a good run, but man it is almost worse finishing in second,” said Kinney. “I would almost rather finish in fifth. I thought we had it in a bag there for a minute. I didn’t know how close Stewart (Friesen) was the whole time. I think I used my tires up a little bit and the bottom started to go away. Once he got by me it was like a replay of a couple years ago there. From there I just concentrated on not hitting those big yellow donuts (implement tires).”
For the second night in a row, Wight came home in the third position. He had fallen as far back as fifth before the last restart allowed him an opportunity to get back to the third position at the checkered flag.
“We had a good car,” Wight stated. “We were just better on the shorter runs. We needed to get a little more drive out of it. We are still learning things with this car. It is a tough crowd to race with Stewy (Friesen) with it being both of our home tracks. We both know what to expect with the track. We are happy with this though, third place with these guys is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Bryan Howland earned his best finish of the week as he came home in the fourth position while Danny Varin concluded Speedweek with a fifth place effort.
ESS Speedweek Notes Night #5 – A total of 30 cars in the pits making all 5 nights 30 cars or more…Chad Miller and Jeremiah Munson both made their first ever ESS appearances…A total of 53 teams entered Speedweek events with 16 teams making all five nights…CNY Speedweek will return on 2014 with a possible twist to close it out at Utica-Rome.
A-Main – Stewart Friesen ($2,050), Paul Kinney ($1,150), Larry Wight ($800), Bryan Howland ($655), Danny Varin ($615), Shawn Donath ($710), Matt Tanner ($455), Steve Poirier ($420), Mark Smith ($435), Jason Barney ($500), Cory Sparks ($460), Dylan Swiernik ($345), Mike Stelter ($325), Chuck Hebing ($290), Dave Axton ($310), Paul Habeck ($305), Joe Trenca ($290), Parker Evans ($325), Denny Peebles ($115), Rob Dietrick ($260), Tommy Wickham ($105), Chad Miller ($250), Kory Gurney ($250), Davie Franek ($250).
Did Not Qualfy – Zach Weigand, Jeremiah Munson, Kyle Dutcher, Pete Richardson, Thomas Radivoy, Gordy Button
Lap Leaders –
Car Mate Trailers $25 to win Heats – Howland, Tanner, Stelter
Lacaillade Masonry $50 to win B-Main – Trenca
87 Speed/X1 Race Cars – Cobra Coaches Dash – Kinney $100
Insinger Fuels Hard Charger – Kinney (11 pos.) $50
Engler Machine and Tool Halfway – Friesen $50
Ohsweken Speedway 20th Anniversary – Dietrick $50
SUNY Canton Smart Move – Varin $50
Beard Sewer and Drain Determination Award – Donath $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Varin $35
Bitner Automotive Blistering Fast Time – Swiernik (19.468) $25
9/11 Restoration – Smith and Sparks $25
Hoosier Tire – Evans $200
Vahlco Wheels – Donath $190
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The Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints are brought to you by: Lucas Oil, Mach 1 Chassis, SUNY Canton, NAPA Auto Parts, Hoosier Racing Tires, Insinger Performance, Car Mate Trailers, Fondations 4 Saisons, Cobra Coaches, 911 Restoration, Westward Painting Company, Fondations 55, Einstein Construction Group, Panther Frameworx, YorkMont Auctions, Engler Machine and Tool, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Beard Sewer and Drain, Lacaillade Masonry, FX Chevy, ASI Racewear and many, many associate sponsors!!