WEEDSPORT, NY – On his 38th birthday Stewart Friesen triumphed at Weedsport Speedway by winning the Hall of Fame 100 for a grand prize of $10,000 over podium finishers Max McLaughlin and Tim Sears Jr. In an action-packed 100-lap Feature, the five-time NAPA Super DIRT Week champion drove his #44 from fifth to first to win his fourth Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified Feature of the season and third career Series victory at Weedsport.
Outside polesitter and Mooresville, NC hotshoe Max McLaughlin took the lead early before relinquishing it to Friesen just before halfway. McLaughlin mounted a successful counter-attack – powering his #32C Big Block around Friesen on a restart but a caution flag nullified the pass.
Rookie standout Tim Sears Jr. picked up his third career Super DIRTcar Series podium. The #83X’s previous two podiums came at his home track of Brewerton Speedway, which has a similar D-shape to Weedsport. The third place is Sears Jr.’s best Series finish so far in 2021.
For Stewart Friesen, $10,000 was the icing on the cake.
“Usually on my birthday everything goes wrong but what a race car tonight,” Friesen said grinning. “What a track. That was awesome. I love stuff like that. I know a lot of guys don’t like having it that way. It’s so much fun to drive. You could race all over it. It was challenging.”
The track surface was dynamic throughout the race and the number of green flag laps on long runs contributed to the changing nature of the surface. There’s nothing like trying to play chess with 800 horsepower under your right foot.
“I thought we were going to go green to checkered there for a while and it was going to be an iron man race,” he noted.
Friesen started fifth and patiently made his way to the front. Max McLaughlin led the opening segment and plunged the front of the field into lapped traffic early on. Friesen had to make daring moves in order to keep up on the #32C’s rear bumper through traffic, otherwise, he was at risk of losing him in the crowd.
The excitement didn’t end when Friesen took the lead. Aside from navigating through traffic, Friesen hit the inside wall – more than once.
“I was just trying to be consistent,” said Friesen. “Thanks to Valco wheels because I smoked my left front on the inside wall in Turn 4 and 2 a few times. It still has air in it! I am just happy to be representing the Hall of Fame 100. Great weekend for us.”
“Thanks to all the fans and everyone we met behind the grandstands earlier,” said Friesen. “Thanks to Halmar, Chris Larsen, and all our great sponsors. We are just rolling right now. We have a lot of races coming up, so we are just going to stick with it.
“Mad Max” McLaughlin was fast right out of the trailer. He ran the fastest lap in Hot Laps and then went on to win his Heat Race which put him in the redraw where he pulled the outside pole.
McLaughlin took the lead on the initial start but began to struggle with a loose race car as the Feature progressed.
“The first 20-25 laps I felt really good,” said McLaughlin. “I was riding and taking care of my stuff. But it really started getting free off the corner. I am pretty happy with second after thinking of what could have happened starting around lap 35.”
Like Stewart Friesen, McLaughlin races in a wide variety of short-track racing disciplines.
“Stew [Friesen] is one of the best drivers in the world,” noted McLaughlin. “It’s a lot of fun racing with him and learning from him. He’s got a great race team and great cars. We just keep trying to get better and better every week and hope to be back on Victory Hill and some other tracks here soon.”
McLaughlin was able to pass Friesen on a restart, but Matt Sheppard’s flat tire brought the scoring back to the last lap. The #32C was not able to close in on the #44 to that degree again and McLaughlin settled for second.
However, since Friesen already has a guaranteed start in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 from winning at Bristol Motor Speedway, Max McLaughlin is awarded the guaranteed start for NAPA Super DIRT Week XLIX.
Tim Sears Jr. was also thankful to hang on for the podium finish. He drew the pole position but the celebration was short-lived as McLaughlin road around the outside of him for the lead. Sears Jr. had some handling issues to overcome.
“We started rim riding at the end,” said Sears Jr. “We had a push that never went away all night. This track really racy. We could race all over it. Hats off to the track crew. It was a fun race.”
The yellow #83X has quickly made his presence known with the Series in a short amount of time. He’s been winning in DIRTcar Big Block Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship racing as well including a 35-lap win at Weedsport earlier this month.
“I want to thank LJL, John Wight, Troyer Dirt Cars, and everyone who has helped us get here this year,” he said after his third-place finish.
The rookie of the year chase is looking good for Tim Sears Jr.
Erick Rudolph proved once again why he is an elite talent in the Super DIRTcar Series. Weedsport Speedway gave the drivers a much different look than it had in recent races but the Ransomville, NY native and his team made the right adjustments to take his #25R Big Block from the back to the front in 100 laps.
Rudolph picked up 20 positions and finished fourth.
Seven-time champion Matt Sheppard started 11th and by lap 34 was amidst a raging battle in the top three. While McLaughlin and Friesen battled side-by-side for the lead Sheppard began reeling the pair in. Unfortunately, his left front tire went down, the #9S slowed, and the caution flag came out. After making the quick tire change in the pit area, Sheppard was able to claw his way back up to finish 12th to salvage valuable championship points.
The “Hile Driver” Chris Hile in the #5H laid down quick-time in Time Trials which awarded him the Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award.
Next up, living legend Brett “The Jet” Hearn joins the Super DIRTcar Series at his home track Orange County Fair Speedway for the $10,000-to-win Battle on the Midway 100 on Thursday, July 29.
Pre-order your tickets now at OrangeCountyFairSpeeday.net. Admission to the nearly two-century-old Orange County Fair is included with the race ticket but if you can’t make it to Middletown, NY be sure to watch all the action live on DIRTVision.com.
Hall of Fame 100 Feature results:
- 44F-STEWART FRIESEN [$10,000]; 2. 32CC-Max Mclaughlin [$5,000]; 3. 83X-Tim Sears [$2,500]; 4. 25R-Erick Rudolph [$1,800]; 5. 5H-Chris Hile [$1,600]; 6. 19F-Tim Fuller [$1,400]; 7. 91D-Billy Decker [$1,300]; 8. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$1,200]; 9. 99L-Larry Wight [$1,100]; 10. 35M-Mike Mahaney [$1,000]; 11. 21A-Peter Britten [$800]; 12. 9s-Matt Sheppard [$700]; 13. 88W-Mat Williamson [$600]; 14. 121-Gary Tomkins [$575]; 15. 3H-Justin Haers [$550]; 16. M1-Dave Marcuccilli [$525]; 17. 28M-Jordan McCreadie [$500]; 18. 111D-Demetrios Drellos [$500]; 19. 34R-Kevin Root [$500]; 20. X-Chad Phelps [$500]; 21. 56-Garrson Krentz [$500]; 22. 32R-Ronnie Davis [$500]; 23. 9X-Tyler Trump [$500]; 24. 2L-Jack Lehner [$500]; 25. 48T-Dave Rauscher [$]; 26. 22W-Brandon Walters [$500]; 27. 27J-Danny Johnson [$500]
Hard Charger Award: 25R-Erick Rudolph[+20]
Billy Whittakar Cars [$100] – Chris Hile #5H
VP Racing Fuels [$50] – Jimmy Phelps
ARP [$50] – Erick Rudolph
ASI [$50] – Peter Britten
Cometic [$50] – Gary Tomkins
Drydene [$50] – Larry Wight
COMP CAMS [$50] – Max McLaughlin
Fox Racing Shox [$50] – Garrison Krentz
MSD [$50] – Peter Britten