By FRANK CATIZONE
MIDDLETOWN, NY – Stewart Friesen is sizzling at the Orange County Fair Speedway.
Since last season’s Eastern States Weekend Racing Festival, Friesen has been nearly unbeatable at the historic racing facility – winning five of the last six races he’s competed in – including last Thursday night’s inaugural Battle of the Midway 100.
The event, which was recently added to the 2018 Super DIRTcar Modified Series, earned Friesen his third OCFS feature victory in as many attempts during the racing campaign and a whopping first-place prize of $10,000. Friesen won two long-distance races during Eastern States Weekend a year ago before settling for a second-place finish to Brett Hearn in the Eastern States 200.
Friesen also picked up his third triumph on the Super DIRTcar tour this season to deadlock Matt Sheppard for the most wins in 2018. However, Sheppard has a decisive lead in the standings after 12 events as he attempts to defend his championship.
Friesen, who is running a limited schedule this season because of his commitment to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, has now notched six career wins at OCFS. He captured his second Hard Clay Open 50-lapper and a regular-season 30-lapper earlier in the year.
However, prior to his recent hot streak, Friesen has also found the going rough at the track. He was winless in 2016 as a weekly competitor before breaking through with his only Eastern States 200 victory later that season. His initial OCFS Modified win came in the 2015 Hard Clay Open.
Friesen showed he was going to be a factor from the get go as he turned in the second quickest lap during the time trial sessions with a clocking of 21.119 seconds – an average speed of 106.539 seconds around the five-eighths mile, hard clay oval.
Friesen, who won the second qualifying heat, drew sixth position for the 100-lap grind as the top three finishers from four heats picked for the top 12 positions. Tim Fuller grabbed the pole and appeared to be the driver to beat in the early going.