Friesen rallies for Firecracker 50 win

Hartman Jr. claims STSS Sportsman main

Short Track Super Series 602 Crate Sportsman feature winner Tim Hartman Jr., center, runner-up Brian Calabrese, left, and Adam McAuliffe celebrate on the podium in Victory Lane at Fonda Speedway Wednesday night. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

FONDA — Add the epic finish to Wednesday’s Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series (STSS) Firecracker 50 to the list of highlights in the 63 year history of Fonda Speedway.

After suffering a flat tire on lap 31 while leading the race, Stewart Friesen pitted and returned to the back of the field and began a charge to the front that kept the huge crowd on its feet.

A pair of cautions helped Friesen’s run as chased down race-leader Matt Sheppard.

With two laps left Friesen caught Sheppard as they caught lapped traffic but could not make the pass as Sheppard used the lapped cars as a pick and pull ahead.

As the white flag flew, Sheppard held a five car advantage but Friesen was not done.

Stewart Friesen lets out a yell as he celebrates his victory in the Super Short Track Super Series Firecracker 50 Wednesday night at Fonda Speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

Friesen put his car on the high side of turn three and pulled even with Sheppard exiting turn four. Sparks flew and paint was traded as the series hot shoes drag raced to the checkers with Friesen getting the $10,000 victory by 0.120 seconds.

“Thanks to all these great race fans for packing this place,” Friesen said in victory lane. “That late race caution was key for me. We rolled the dice and put on a softer compound tire when we pitted for the flat tire. Matt [Sheppard] was good down the middle and I just tried to keep the tires under me until the last lap when I went for it on the outside.”

In the companion STSS 25-lap feature for the 602 Sportsman division, series and Fonda Speedway points leader Tim Hartman, Jr. powered his way to to the $1,500 victory.

After the top 12 finishers from the four qualifiers redraw on Victory Lane, the front row of Rocky Warner and Jessica Friesen brought the field of 29 modifieds to the green with Friesen grabbing the early lead over Warner and Brett Hearn.

Sheppard, who drew the seventh starting spot, and Stewart Friesen, who drew the eighth spot, were quickly making their way to the front.

Bobby Varin (76), Larry Wight (99L) and Josh Hohenforst (6H) fight for position between turns three and four in their qualifying heat Wednesday night at Fonda Speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

Stewart Friesen moved into third on a lap six restart and passed his wife for the lead on lap 17, with Sheppard up to third, Warner fourth and Erick Rudolph completing the top five.

The complexion of the race changed when the caution flew on lap 31.

Stewart Friesen was a full straightaway ahead Jessica when her car stopped on the backstretch. While under caution Stewart suffered a flat right rear tire handing the lead over to Sheppard. Stewart pitted to change the tire and restart at the tail end of the lead lap cars, while Jessica’s night ended with motor problems.

Rudolph beat Sheppard on the restart to take the lead, while Friesen split Larry Wight and Hearn for the eighth position. The yellow flag flew on lap 37 with Rudolph, Sheppard, Anthony Perrego, Warner, and Mike Gular making up the top five with Friesen sixth.

Sheppard took the race lead on the restart, while Friesen went to the high side to get past Gular, Warner, and Perrego and settle into third.

Craig Hanson (20C) battles with Alan Barker for a qualifying spot for Wednesday's Firecracker 50 at Fonda speedway. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

With nine laps remaining, Friesen slipped past Rudolph into second, a full straightaway behind Sheppard.

With fresh tires, Friesen chased down Sheppard with two laps to go, setting up the thrilling finish for his third win of the season and 57th of his career at Fonda Speedway.

Mike Cole Memorial Fuccillo Automotive Group victory lane celebrating their victories.

“This is so special,” Friesen said in the Mike Cole Memorial Fuccillo Automotive Group victory lane celebration. “This one is for Mike Cole, I’m gonna have a beer for him tonight.”

Sheppard was second followed by Rudolph, Perrego and Warner. Andy Bachetti, Larry Wight, Hearn Mat Williamson and Craig Hanson complete the top 10.

Adam McAuliffe and Cody Clark drew the front row starting spots for the 25-lap STSS 602 Sportsman feature with McAuliffe gaining the early advantage.

Hartman, who started third, pulled into second on lap three and took the lead on a lap five restart. Chad Edwards pulled into third on the restart and locked in a tight battle with McAuliffe and Brian Calabrese for second.

Calabrese moved into second on lap 10 but could not chase down Hartman Jr. as he collected his third win of the season and second on the STSS North circuit.

“I knew that it was going to be a tough race,” Hartman Jr. said in Victory Lane. “We made the right adjustments before the feature, putting more gear in the car to help us on restarts, and we were able to hit lap traffic just right to get the win.”

Calabrese, McAuliffe, Edwards and Mark Mortensen round out the top five, while Tim Dwyer, Jimmy Johnson, JaMike Sowle, Aaron Burton and Kurtis Hohensheldt made up the second five.

The track of Champions will take Saturday night off and return to action on July 13 when Corr-Pak Merchandising & One Zee Tee’s presents Autism Awareness and Banner Night.

On the racing card will be Twin 20’s for the Sunoco Modifieds paying $1,500 to win each one, the Swagger Factory Apparel 602 Crate Sportsman paying $1,000 to win thanks to Eric Orozco Racing, the Montgomery County Office for Aging Inc. Limited Sportsman, the Algonkin Motel Pro Stocks in a Best of 8 Series event presented by American racer paying $800 to win, the Trackside Body Works Street Stocks, and the Four Cylinder Cruisers with a starting time of 7:00 p.m.

$10,000 TO WIN BOB HILBERT SPORTSWEAR SHORT TRACK SUPER SERIES (STSS) FUELED BY SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH – 50-LAPS – STEWART FRIESEN, Matt Sheppard, Erick Rudolph, Anthony Perrego, Rocky Warner, Andy Bachetti, Larry Wight, Brett Hearn, Mat Williamson, Craig Hanson, Michael Maresca, Billy Decker, Bobby Varin, David Schilling, Mike Mahaney, Matt DeLorenzo, Allison Ricci, Billy VanPelt, Cody Bleau, Steve Akers, Danny Creeden, Mike Gular, Jessica Friesen, Jeremy Smith, Corey Cormier, Billy Pauch Jr., JR Hurlburt, Alan Barker, Dave Constantino

HEAT RACE WINNERS: Mike Gular, Erick Rudolph, Anthony Perrego, Stewart Friesen


DID NOT QUALIFY – Tim Hartman Jr., Vinnie Sanganetti, Brian Gleason, Jimmy Horton, Josh Hohenforst, Scott Huber, Roger Henion Jr., Danny Varin

$2,000 TO WIN BOB HILBERT SPORTSWEAR SHORT TRACK SUPER SERIES (STSS) CRATE 602 SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH – 25-LAPS – TIM HARTMAN JR., Brian Calabrese, Adam McAuliffe, Chad Edwards, Mark Mortensen, Tim Dwyer, Jimmy Johnson, JaMike Sowle, Aaron Burton, Kurtis Hohensheldt, Dan Santabarbara, Cody Clark, Travis Green, Blaine Klinger, Harry Shaffer, Jim Housworth, Joe Orlando, Dustin Jordan, Brendan Gibbons, Jonathan Swift, Brett Mortensen, Joe Williams, Andrew Buff, Bobby Flood, Nick Scavia, Brian Borst, Jeremy Tuttle, Matt Shultz, Tommy Collins

HEAT RACE WINNERS: Nick Scavia, Travis Green, JaMike Sowle, Brian Calabrese


DID NOT QUALIFY – Tom Princiotta, Jeff Holt, Griffen Mansmith, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Morgiewicz, Dustin Jordan, Will Eastman, Tony Farone