An Interview With:
You’re going to have a lot of fans here. I was on the flight yesterday and there was like five of them coming in from Albany.
STEWART FRIESEN: Awesome.
- You’re finally over the snied, you won a Truck race on pavement and people can stop whining about that. But really, does that give ‑‑ is that a relief for you?
STEWART FRIESEN: Yeah, absolutely. Winning at Eldora was huge, but being a dirt guy that was kind of expected, right. So we got the monkey off our back, got the big win at Phoenix last week. It was definitely timely, gave the team a lot of morale ‑‑ actually, I should say raised the team morale and all the guys are holding their heads a little higher this week in the shop and hopefully we can ride some of that momentum into tomorrow night.
- Homestead’s kind of a worn‑out kind of place, 16‑year‑old pavement, and you bring years and years of dirt experience into racing in the trucks. Does your, how does your experience at places like Ransomville, Utica‑Rome, etc really, help you out there?
STEWART FRIESEN: Yeah, I hope it helps out a lot. It’s a slick racetrack, Homestead, there will be a lot of fall off with the tires. You go from running a wide‑open lap to half throttle over a 10‑lap run, there’s about a two and a half seconds of fall off. So I’m excited about that and hopefully that plays into our advantage a little bit.
- What drivers back home have reached out to you?
STEWART FRIESEN: Jimmy Phelps just texted me like two minutes ago. So him, Larry White, Matty Williamson. It’s been a close ‑‑ it’s a close‑knit group of us, we’re definitely representing all of them and it means a lot to have a lot of support from my peers in the Modified Division.
- What’s it like to represent that community?
STEWART FRIESEN: It’s big. And it’s cool though, it’s not like a lot of pressure, but it’s cool, it’s meaningful, it’s something that I appreciate.
- You see the reaction from the crew chief and the team. Can you talk about how big a deal it is behind the scenes for, not only yourself, but to represent your entire team and for them to be possibly a championship‑winning crew member?
STEWART FRIESEN: It’s awesome. It’s really cool. These guys put a lot into it, especially with the Truck Series, it’s a closer‑knit group, there’s only six of us, and it’s really, really cool. These guys work really, really hard and put in a ton of hours. They work a lot of Sundays, holidays, miss birthdays, weddings, all that stuff. Everybody, myself included, we all put a lot into it to be a racer and be in a race‑winning team. So it’s really, really special to have a chance to win a championship. Obviously, winning races is big, but for all that hard work of a whole season kind of culminate to having a chance at it, it’s good and special.
- Just being part‑time a few years ago could you foresee this steep of a curve?
STEWART FRIESEN: Not really. It’s been awesome to compete at this level and big thanks to Chris Larsen, to Halmar, for this opportunity, but he kind of ‑‑ he’s been great, he’s been a great boss, he’s been a great mentor and leader to us all on the team and it’s awesome to reward him with a chance at a championship.
- Talk about the close call, the second place finishes that keep going wrong right at the end of a race. What did that do to you?
STEWART FRIESEN: It’s tough, it tests your mental capability and it was really tough. We had so many races the last two years that just kind of slipped away. And it wasn’t for lack of effort or lack of trying, it was just, things happen. I would make mistakes, we made mistakes as a team, and it was tough. So even beginning of that race last week, having the penalty to start last and having to come from the back definitely tested my mental toughness and Rick Crowley is a great spotter, Tripp Bruce is a great crew chief and having those guys on the radio, just kind of, it was like, Okay, we’re not out of this, we have a good truck, we had a great practice, good qualifying run. And we leaned on that and went back to work and were able to pick them back off. So it was awesome to finally win that race last week, even having to have some adversity, I think that made it even more special.
- In Victory Lane you mentioned the truck. Do you know which truck it is?
STEWART FRIESEN: Yeah, it’s our mile‑and‑a‑half primary that we have had all year. It’s had some great updates, we know where it’s at with the aero balance, it’s been in the wind tunnel a handful of times and it’s a great proven piece. So, hopefully, we have a great plan of attack for practice in the morning and we’ll just try to work the plan as best we can.
- Not to look too far ahead, but 2020, do you have anything set up?
STEWART FRIESEN: Nothing, nothing yet. I see everything’s kind of going crazy this past couple days with rides and drivers moving around. So hopefully sooner than later. We’re trying to put it all together. But it’s been a great relationship with GMS, Chris Larsen, Maury Gallagher get along very well and Chevrolet’s been big to us too. So if that’s any tip to what we’re doing next year, hopefully we can announce that and have it set in stone next week or in a couple weeks.
- Potentially this could be your last truck race ride for awhile.
STEWART FRIESEN: It could be, you never know. Hopefully, hopefully we’ll be back and everything will be good, but I don’t expect to be out of the Truck Series, I expect to be in the Truck Series.
- You mentioned him earlier, just what are your thoughts on Matt Williamson winning a Super Dirt Car Series last weekend
STEWART FRIESEN: It was great. Watched it on DIRTVision and it was an excellent race. He definitely has a lot of momentum in the second part of the season and Matt Sheppard’s been obviously tough the past 10 years, so it was a really cool race to sit back and watch as a race fan last week.
- There is momentum in Big‑Block Modifieds. Just last week Brett Hearn announced that he’s stepping away from full‑time racing. That’s going to be a big change in that form of racing, since he’s been around since the ’70s
STEWART FRIESEN: Yeah, absolutely, Brett’s, he’s been the one that’s kind of set the bar on how to conduct a race team and how to win and how to act like a champion. So he’s stepping away from full‑time, but I know his role as manager at Orange County Speedway is going to be awesome and really excited to see what he does with that place.
- It should be interesting, Brett’s been there, well since the early days of his career. He’s won 240 races there or something like that. So he knows a thing or two.
STEWART FRIESEN: Absolutely and the way he conducts himself with sponsors and that end of it, it just, you know, it’s all a positive and everything looks good for Middletown.
- Back to the Truck Series team. Halmar Friesen is somewhat associated with GMS Racing. Has there been additional GMS help in the week leading up to this championship race?
STEWART FRIESEN: No, it’s been, you know, the same, on par as what it’s been all year. We’re a big part of GMS and we appreciate being a part of GMS. But it’s been good. Those guys are awesome, their fab shop is second to none, their engineering department is awesome and it’s been all systems go for the whole playoff run.
- How do you think you stack up against these other four guys?
STEWART FRIESEN: It’s four great race teams. A lot of experience. All four of us are hard‑core true racers, I believe. So we’ll see how it goes, but it’s been a weird kind of playoff run, there’s been a lot of adversity and teams have had to struggle. We have had penalties or mechanical failures and stuff in many of the races. So whoever can go out there and execute a good day and have a little bit of luck, obviously will have the best odds of winning.
- If you win a championship tomorrow, what does that do for your career if you win tomorrow night?
STEWART FRIESEN: It’s big. It kind of culminates a lot of hard work. A lot of people have been behind me and been behind my career. I think that would be the most special part, just to win a championship for all the car owners that gave me breaks over the years and supported me. And then, obviously, my boss now, Chris Larsen, it’s, it would be so special for everything that he puts into this race team and the tools that he gives us to go out there and execute and win an awesome trophy for him.
- This is going to be your third career race here at Homestead. Obviously, it’s worn out, but what do you think about Homestead in general?
STEWART FRIESEN: I like it. Homestead’s a fun track, racy, this being the last championship race at Homestead, there’s probably a little bit more value to that. So, no, I like it, it’s been fun, I like running up against the wall. And not that it has that payoff affect as it does with the Xfinity cars and stuff that really there’s more speed, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun to do.
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