The newly renamed “NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series” kicked off with an explosive debut in Daytona last Friday night. Returning for another full season, 2018 playoff driver, Stewart Friesen, started 7th with the support of his crew chief Trip Bruce and the HFR (Halmar-Friesen Racing) team. For the 2019 season, HFR is still technically allied with GMS Racing, whose fab shop supplied Friday’s no.52 Halmar International Chevy Silverado.
It was an eventful race in terms of wrecks, with the “Big One” coming on Lap 54 when a dozen trucks bashed into the wall and each other in Turn 3. Only nine trucks would go on to finish on the lead lap, with Friesen being the last to fall off after a wreck at 2 laps to go. The no. 52 Chevy had already suffered moderate damage in the earlier big wreck, but despite that was running for a top 5 spot the majority of the race.
Though 10th place is not the outcome HFR hoped for, Friesen will at least start his 2019 NGOTS season with a top 10, the 22nd of his short NASCAR career.
Post race, Friesen commented “I thought we had a very strong Halmar International Chevrolet tonight. We got pretty banged up on that first big wreck but we kept it rolling. We had to make an additional pit stop later to address a flat tire. I thought we were golden for a minute there, we had a strong run and got caught up in the wreck with two to go, I tried to keep it going but wasn’t able to. We ended up with a top 10, which is awesome. Collectively we tore up a lot of good equipment in the process, which is a bummer. Especially for all the guys that worked so hard in the off season to prepare fast trucks. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and excited to see what we can do from here.”
After a wild Friday night with the NGOTS, Friesen hurried back over to Volusia Speedway Park in DeLeon Springs, Florida for some dirt track racing at the DIRTcar Nationals on Saturday. After an incredibly successful 2018 season, Friesen was hungry for a win at Volusia and he got it, winning his heat race and then going on to win the feature race. For Friesen, it was a huge treat to get to hold “the gator” in victory lane!
Next week, Stewart Friesen heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sat, Feb 23, watch live on FS1 starting at 4:30 pm.