Stewart Friesen Takes Another Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprint Win at Utica-Rome
By MIKE MALLETT
VERNON, NY – Stewart Friesen did what he always seems to do at the Utica-Rome Speedway on Sunday night with the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints as he captured the 25-lap A-Main. It was Friesen’s sixth series win at the track and his second consecutive at the half-mile.
Friesen, of Sprakers, N.Y., tracked down Mike Mahaney, who was piloting Doug Emery’s No. 33, to make the pass for the top spot just after the halfway point of the feature. From there he drove away to take home the checkered flag in the SUNY Canton Series, NAPA Auto Parts Tour of U.S. feature. It was the 11th of his career.
“It was tough,” said Friesen. “It was hot out here tonight. I got thank Jess (Zemken) and this team. She’s a tough boss and I’m just happy to hold up the pressure. This is a great hot rod. I love running this thing.”
Chuck Hebing started alongside Mahaney on front of the feature. Mahaney, driving Friesen’s former ride, quickly worked by Hebing on the exit of turn two on the inside lane.
Mahaney was quick out in front by himself pulling away from Curt Michael who moved around Hebing in the opening circuits to take over second. As Mahaney began closing in on traffic Michael found himself challenged by Friesen. Friesen was all over Michael for the runner-up position taking second from him on lap eight.
Once in second, Friesen had work to do to catch Mahaney but he benefited from the fact that Mahaney had just caught heavier slower traffic. Mahaney did his best to clear lapped cars as quickly as possible by Friesen made up ground at a rapid rate.
Ten laps remained when Friesen pulled along-side Mahaney looking for the top position. One lap later Friesen made the move to drive around Mahaney in traffic in turns one and two.
“We had a great car but the last month or so it seems like the track has been bottom groove dominant,” stated Friesen. “We knew that and set up for that. Curt (Michael) was doing a good job on the bottom and so was Mike (Mahaney), but we were able to maneuver around and hold enough momentum through the slick stuff before getting back to the bottom when we got the chance.”
After taking the lead Friesen was able to masterfully work traffic like he always does while pulling away from Mahaney. Mahaney meanwhile held his own for second with Michael and Bryan Howland closing in as traffic got thicker.
Friesen won by a half-straightaway in the caution free affair with Mahaney finished second in only his third Sprint Car start of the 2015 racing season. He was extremely happy and thankful for the opportunity to drive for car owner Doug Emery, but admitted he made some mistakes in traffic.
“This is a pretty cool thing to finish second to Friesen in my first start here,” smiled Mahaney. “They have a lot of experience here and I don’t. I’m happy to be here and I’m happy that Doug Emery gave me this opportunity. I don’t have a lot of experience in this cars in lapped traffic. Hopefully I can learn quicker next time and make it through better.”
Michael, of Ocean View, Del., crossed the line in the third spot capping off a weekend with the Empire Super Sprints where he didn’t finish outside of the top ten and had two podium finishes.
“I’m freaking happy with a third,” said Michael. “To have two Modified guys finish in front of us on a track like this I’ll take it. I’m really happy. There are a lot of people here and I’m really tickled with a third. I saw him (Friesen) there when we were racing for second, I knew he’d race me clean and I was probably holding him so I knew he’d get me sooner or later but it’s my job to keep him behind me and I did that as long as I could.”
Howland ended up finishing in the fourth position after starting in seventh and Modified regular Larry Wight came home in position number five.
ESS/Utica-Rome Notes – A season high of 38 cars filled the pits for what was billed as the Cole Cup Tune Up…Steve Poirier was crowned the SUNY Canton Series Point Champion…Making first starts were Charlie Donk, Ray Sitterly and Kelly Hebing…Next Week it’s the Third Annual Cole Cup paying $10,000 to win at the Utica-Rome Speedway.
Lucas Oil A-Main – Stewart Friesen ($2,025), Mike Mahaney ($1,100), Curt Michael ($825), Bryan Howland ($630), Larry Wight ($565), Shawn Donath ($785), Paul Kinney ($430), Jason Barney ($445), Matt Tanner ($435), Chuck Hebing ($400), Danny Varin ($515), Sam Reakes IV ($320), Steve Poirier ($300), Alysha Ruggles ($390), Steve Glover ($285), Mike Stelter ($330), Dylan Swiernik ($275), Jeff Cook ($270), Darryl Ruggles ($315), Charlie Donk ($260), Rob Dietrick ($255), Cory Sparks ($250), Paulie Colagiovanni ($500), Dave Axton ($75), Pete Richardson ($250)
Did Not Qualfy – Tommy Wickham, Joe Trenca, Kyle Dutcher, Ray Sitterly, Nick Cooper, Jonathan Preston, Keith Prutzman, Chad Miller, Paul Habeck, Kelly Hebing, Doug Crews, Keith Granholm, Derek Juliano.
Lap Leaders – Mahaney 1-15, Friesen 16-25
Car Mate Trailers $25 to win Heats – Barney, Mahaney, Friesen, Michael
Lacaillade Masonry $50 to win B-Main – Donk
Lacaillade Masonry in Memory of Ed Costello – Cobra Coaches Dash – Varin $125
Insinger Fuels Hard Charger – Donath (9 pos.) $50
Engler Machine and Tool Halfway – Mahaney $50
Ohsweken Speedway 20th Anniversary – Donk $50
SUNY Canton Smart Move – Stelter $50
Beard Sewer and Drain Determination Award – D. Ruggles $50
Fondations 55 Pick 5 – Wight $35
Bitner Automotive Blistering Fast Time – Mahaney (19.425) $25
9/11 Restoration – Tanner and Varin $25
Hoosier Tire – Colagiovanni $200
Vahlco Wheels – Donath $190
For more Information on the Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints: Web: www.empiresupersprints.com Twitter: @ESSprints
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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!!