BARBERVILLE, Fla. — Stewart Friesen held off a hard-charging Peter Britten to win the 30-lap DIRTcar Nationals Super DIRTcar Series opener Tuesday night at Volusia Speedway Park.
Britten, driving a new Ryder Racing-sponsored Bicknell chassis Big-Block Modified, threw everything he had at Friesen in a duel through lapped traffic. Friesen held off the No. 21A machine for the checkered flag with an aggressive line around the top side of The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
“It was a very technical race track,” said Friesen, of Sprakers, New York. “That’s the closest I’ve ever driven a Big-Block Modified to a wingless sprint car. I just backed it in. There’s not much grip on the right front.”
After a long green-flag run during the midpoint of the 30-lap race, Friesen caught the rear of the field. What ensued was a memorable duel where both drivers snaked from top to bottom trying to find the fastest way around the lapped cars and each other.
“I was trying to get through the lapped cars as quick as I could, but it was tough because it was so slick,” Friesen said. “I kept losing the right front. I felt Peter give me a shot out of (turn) 4 one time, but the Halmar team prevailed.”
With 19 laps to go, Britten got under Friesen on a restart and drove by the No. 44 in turn 1, but a caution flag flew for a hard crash involving multiple cars including Jim Britt, Tyler Jashembowski, and Dave Rauscher. Unfortunately for Britten, the pass was negated as the lap was incomplete.
“If I hadn’t gotten that caution and gone out ahead, Friesen was fast but we were right there with him,” Britten said. “It would have been interesting to see if we could have held him off.”
Expectations are high for Britten as he moved to a Bicknell-built chassis for the first time in his career. With an all-new all-black paint scheme, it’s hard to avoid the Batmobile comparisons given his nickname “Batman.” But it hasn’t all been good luck for Britten in Florida this year.
“We wrecked a car and it’s been a thrash since then,” Britten said. “A lot of people helped me to get to where I am even to just make it back to the race track. Me and Dylan (Zacharias) thrashed on this thing day and night basically to get it ready. It’s a good feeling to be up here for sure.”
Friesen, who also competes in the NASCAR Truck Series, is now an eight-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner after the $4,000 victory. But the native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, was racing with a heavy heart following news coming out of his native province.
“I’m thinking about my friends in St. Catharines, Ontario, Doug and Todd Gordon at Concept 1 Fabrication,” Friesen said. “They had a big fire. They lost a lot, if not everything. They are diehard racers who I grew up with. When I first started racing I could go and see ‘Flash’ and he’d fix me up. We’re going to work hard to get him fixed up again.”
Finishing third was the Gypsum Racing No. 91 of Billy Decker. He passed Max McLaughlin for third on the last lap. Decker and McLaughlin traded sliders in the closing stages of the feature, but the veteran came out on top.
Heat race winners were Friesen, Britten, Jimmy Phelps, and McLaughlin.
All 32 Big-Block Modifieds on the property started the feature.
Friesen picked up the first Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award with a 17.463 lap.
On Wednesday, Friesen again raced to victory in another 30-lap, $4,000-to-win feature. Erick Rudolph and Michael Maresca completed Wednesday’s top three.
Tuesday’s Feature Finish (30 laps): 1. Stewart Friesen (44), 2. Peter Britten (21A), 3. Billy Decker (91), 4. Max McLaughlin (32C), 5. Mat Williamson (88), 6. Matt Sheppard (9s), 7. Erick Rudolph (25), 8. Tyler Dippel (1D), 9. Billy VanInwegen (4), 10. Dan Creeden (16X), 11. Jimmy Phelps (98H), 12. Tim Fuller (19), 13. Michael Maresca (7MM), 14. Kyle Coffey (23), 15. C.G. Morey (14), 16. Rich Scagliotta (8), 17. Rob Pitcher (17), 18. Darwin Greene (1), 19. Jeremy Smith (46), 20. Marcus Dinkins (17D), 21. Ryan Godown (30), 22. Brett Hearn (20), 23. Dave Rauscher (48T), 24. Jessey Mueller (19M), 25. Derrick McGrew (26), 26. Brandon Hightower (B52), 27. Tyler Jashembowski (88T), 28. Jack Lehner (2), 29. Matt Stangle (6), 30. Jim Britt (118), 31. Cass Bennett (33T), 32. Justin Wright (01W).
Wednesday’s Feature Finish (30 laps): 1. Stewart Friesen (44), 2. Erick Rudolph (25), 3. Michael Maresca (7MM), 4. Max McLaughlin (32C), 5. Billy Decker (91), 6. Peter Britten (21A), 7. Jack Lehner (2), 8. Brett Hearn (20), 9. Matt Sheppard (9s), 10. Tyler Dippel (1D), 11. Mat Williamson (88), 12. Billy VanInwegen (4), 13. Ryan Godown (30), 14. Matt Stangle (6), 15. Jessey Mueller (19M), 16. Dan Creened (16X), 17. Jim Britt (118), 18. C.G. Morey (14), 19. Derrick McGrew (26), 20. Tyler Jashembowski (88T), 21. Jeremy Smith (46), 22. Rick Scagliotta (8), 23. Marcus Dinkins (17D), 24. Kyle Coffey (23), 25. Dave Rauscher (48T), 26. Darwin Greene (1), 27. Jimmy Phelps (98H), 28. Rob Pitcher (17), 29. Tim Fuller (19), 30. Brandon Hightower (B52), 31. Cass Bennett (33T), 32. Justin Wright (01W).