Home / DIRTcar Nationals / EXCLUSIVE: Friesen and Haers Recover for Volusia Top Fives, Johnson and Horton Podium – DIRTcar Nationals Thursday Notes

EXCLUSIVE: Friesen and Haers Recover for Volusia Top Fives, Johnson and Horton Podium – DIRTcar Nationals Thursday Notes

By CAMDEN PROUD

It was a busy Thursday night at the DIRTcar Nationals. Following a rainout on Tuesday and a fog delay on Wednesday, mother nature set up the fans at Volusia Speedway Park for a pretty big treat as two 30-lap features for the Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds provided 60-laps of feature action. The first main event got the green flag promptly at 7:30pm.

Bad Luck for the Leaders in First Feature 

A gator winner in 2017, Justin Haers and Outlaw Speedway promoter Tyler Siri lead the first main event to green as Hears lead the first lap with Max McLaughlin following suit early. Also on the move in the beginning stages of the show was Stewart Friesen, who had a busy day practicing the NASCAR Truck at Daytona before jetting over to Volusia for the double header. Friesen started in 7th, but was all over Siri for 2nd by lap 12.

Unfortunately for Haers and Friesen, the lead wasn’t the place to be in this one, as despite Haers, Friesen and Siri sitting one two and three at halfway, with seven to go, smoke started billowing out from the Phelps Cement Products No. 3 of Haers.  This forced Haers, one of the two Volusia winners from last year out of the race on lap 23, setting up heartbreak for the Phelps, N.Y. driver. “I’m not really sure what happened, maybe we had an oil line blow or something. It’s definitely disappointing because I really think we had a car that was going to win another gator tonight,” he said.

The problems for the front runners were not over solely at the expense of Haers. Billy Pauch Sr. slammed the wall on lap 24 after jumping the cushion which set up a restart with five to go. A lap after taking the green flag in the top spot, Friesen had a right rear tire go flat at the entrance to turn one, also ending his night.

This setup a huge opportunity with five laps to go for Siri, who held off second and third place finishers Tim McCreadie and Jimmy Horton for his first career Big Block Modified Super DIRTcar Series victory. Siri will speak to CentralNewYorkMotorsports.com exclusively on Friday afternoon with his reaction.

More from Feature 1 

Horton was the ‘hard charger’ of the first main event, putting together a nice run from 8th to 3rd with the Halmar Racing No. 43…

Danny Johns0n seemed to have the Shakelton Auto Parts No. 27J tuned up well, mixing it up in the top five all race long…

After struggling on the Super DIRTcar Series last season, Mike Mahaney turned up the wick in the Buzz Chew Racing No. 88 in the second Thursday feature grabbing a fifth, but struggled with a 13th in the first main…

Delware driver HJ Bunting is sporting a beautiful yellow and blue scheme on his No. 85 and it ran rather well to start the night as he brought that car home 7th for his best career Volusia effort thus far…

Ryan Godown just missed a top ten finishing a respectable eleventh with the Dieter Schmidt owned No. 5…

Both the Gypsum Racing cars were in the top ten, although Larry Wight fell from third to a tenth place finish while Pat Ward improved, wheeling his way from tenth to fifth…

McLaughlin wound up sixth with his new blue wheels on the Textron Off-Road, HBR No. 6H…

JR Heffner was strong in his No. 74 finishing in seventh…

Second 2017 winner Brett Hearn is the all-time winningest driver at Volusia, but he struggled, only managing to finish in 14th place…

Several other heavy hitters missed the setup in feature 1 with Billy Decker and Erick Rudolph missing the top 15…

Jimmy Phelps pitted early with issues on the new look J&B Installations 98H on lap 15…

Defending series champion Matt Sheppard was one of the big shockers with issues in the first main event, dropping out on lap 13 after getting lapped by Haers. It’s unclear what the issue was early on for Sheppard…

Friesen Recovers in Runner Up Spot

After losing a right rear tire while leading with four laps to go in the first Super DIRTcar Series event of the evening, Stewart Friesen probably wished he had just stayed in his motorhome at the Daytona International Speedway, but the Niagara on the Lake, Ontario native changed that right around come feature 2 as he charged furiously from 8th to 3rd early on, stalking polesitter McCreadie and second place Haers.

Haers also wound up in the perfect position to turn his luck around in the second main event after his disastrous miscue just a couple of hours earlier and that’s exactly what he did, although the Land of Legends Raceway regular did not stay in second for too long as Friesen dove to the inside of the No. 3 on lap 16 after Haers jumped the cushion in one and two.

Shortly thereafter, the No. 44 of Friesen began to reel in the 39 of McCreadie and when a yellow came out with ten to go, everyone knew it was going to be a shootout for the top spot. Despite the roles being reversed last summer at the Weedsport Speedway, ‘T-Mac’ was able to hold Friesen off this time around.

“I was so disappointed earlier tonight,” commented Friesen. “It was extremely frustrating, but these Halmar guys worked so hard to get me back out there. It was fun battling with Timmy (McCreadie), he gives it his all every single lap and then to battle with my hero the doctor (Danny Johnson) back behind us was just a lot of fun.”

Friesen was able to confirm what happened earlier in the evening, noting that, “We had a tire cut down in the first feature and it caused quite a bit of damage. The guys worked really hard to get us back out there and we were rewarded with a top two finish because of it. These DKM guys are great, we’ve worked the last couple months and we’ve got something a little different for them this year, so this is cool.”

The Doctor Doubles with Two Top Fives

Danny Johnson, also known as ‘The Doctor’ is on call this week in Florida driving for longtime sponsor George Shakelton in the Shakelton Auto Parts No. 27J Bicknell.

The legendary wheelman from Rochester, N.Y. was able to mix it up in both main events, which was a nice opportunity for the fans to catch Johnson in action after he missed nearly the entire tour season last year, spending most of his time in Delaware before the Shakelton ride came to fruition ahead of NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week last October.

Johnson certainly had to earn his podium finish in the second feature. A not so great heat raced forced the No. 27J to line up back in the 15th spot, but Johnson made his way to the front with relative ease and he passed a lot of good cars to do so. If there was a ‘Hard Charger’ Award handed out, Johnson would be the recipient. The 58 year-old has four Volusia wins as part of his illustrious career and certainly still had something for them tonight.

“It felt great to come down here and run up front twice, getting a third place finish in this second race. We had to come from really deep in the field,” Johnson noted. “I really need to thank George Shakelton, Chris Gennarelli, and everyone that gave me the opportunity today to come down here and get a third place and be able to visit everybody on TV, this is awesome.”

Would Johnson have had a real good shot at the win had he started closer to the front? “You never know,”  he smiled. “I would like to certainly think so but you never know.”

Notes from Feature 2 

The first yellow flag of the second feature was out on lap 9 for a hard hit by Max McLaughlin, who said that “Danny Johnson drove him into the inside wall.” The HBR team will be hard at work repairing the No. 6H for Friday night’s show…

Hearn and Tim Fuller continued with their struggles later into the evening. Fuller failed to make the second feature while Hearn battled issues all race long to finish 23rd, despite coming in to change tires on the car on lap 12…

Wight hit the outside wall with a flat RF on lap 15, but was able to recover for 12th after a valiant effort from his Gypsum team. His teammate Ward finished one spot ahead of him in 11th…

First race winner Siri struggled in feature 2, only able to finish 21st…

Heffner and Horton, two other top ten finishers in the first feature, wound up 13th and 14th…

Billy VanInwegen had a nice tenth place effort in the Escape RV No. 4…

PA standout Brett Kressley managed his best Volusia run yet with a 9th place result in the 19K…

The ‘Electric Company’ Ryan Watt showed poise in the Jeff Brown owned Chesapeake Paving No. 9, driving to a solid 8th place finish…

Pauch Sr. turned it around from his accident in the first feature to grab a nice seventh place recovery in feature 2 after a battle with defending series champion Sheppard…

‘Super Matt’ also improved himself greatly, driving from 14th to 6th and looking a whole lot more like himself by the end of the night…

The DIRTcar Nationals continues Friday with another show of Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds and World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Models before the two Gator Champions are decided on Saturday evening with championship extra distance events…

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