From wrecking in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice to finishing inside the top five, Stewart Friesen had a pretty up-and-down weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“Just locked the left-front up a little bit coming into the carousel and slid the nose,” Stewart said regarding his crash in Friday’s 20-minute practice session. “Honestly thought I was gonna get it slowed down enough before I got off-track.”
The damage to the No. 52 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro would send Friesen to the rear of the field to start Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 150, which began in the midst of a passing shower, forcing the field onto wet weather tires.
In the opening 10 laps of Saturday’s event, Friesen mowed his way through the field, gaining a whopping 17 positions. Though, that wet weather start forced the owner-driver to re-evaluate his approach.
“Really want to get up there and get some stage points,” Friesen said prior to the start of the event. “Being there at the end of the day is going to take a bit more caution pace than aggressive.”
That change in strategy paid off, earning Friesen a top-10 result, and stage points, in each of the race’s opening two stages. That consistency awarded him some points that will be critical for the team if they want to make the playoffs.
“Just had some stuff get away from us the last couple of races that weren’t any of our doing. Some bad luck in Charlotte and in Nashville, where we lost some points.”
After Saturday’s event at Mid-Ohio, Friesen goes from six points below the cutline to only one point below, putting him within striking distance of the top-10 in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points.
“I think we figured some stuff out,” Friesen concluded. “I actually felt kind of comfortable running out there in the wet and searching around and finding grip. I actually had some fun. Proud of my guys, proud of our top five. We needed a little bit more to be in the top three, those guys were pretty quick, but we’ll take it.”
Looking ahead, Friesen says he is hopeful about his and Halmar Friesen Racing’s future in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and what an increased role with the organization means for his other racing endeavors.
“Everything looks good as far as us coming back another year in the Truck Series, so that’s awesome,” he said. “I’ve scaled down on the dirt racing a little bit this year. I took on the management side of HFR and it’s been a lot of fun.”
More dedicated than ever, Friesen will keep his focus on the remainder of 2023. His top priority? Pointing his way into the playoffs with two races to go in the regular season. If he is successful, he will pursue his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title.