5/27/2021 - Stewart Friesen Locks into Championship with a Big Block win
In what was possibly one of the nicest days of 2021, the racing was hot on the 5/8th mile Legendary House Of Power Thursday evening. 30 plus United Rentals DIRTcar Modifieds entered for a $6,000 pay day, and a chance to get closer to the $25,000 Championship. Along with the United Rentals DIRTcar Modifieds, the Precision Hydraulic & Oil Rookie Sportsman and spectator races filled out the card. The event on hand was the first one of many Thursday night specials this season, known as the “Twin”tyfive-75. Two 25 lap feature events and a B-Main set the starting grid for the 75 lap Main event for the DIRTcar Modifieds.
The first 25 lap qualifying race started with North Carolina’s “Mad Max” Max McLaughlin and Pennsylvania native Duane Howard. McLaughlin quickly took to the lead with Howard in tow. The field, like its successor, was stacked with competition, and this one saw driver's charging to the front instantly. Two drivers who stood out quickly were Stewart Friesen and “Mega Money” Mat Williamson. Both running two different lanes raced three wide with other competitors to advance, but out front McLaughlins' lead began to spread. A early caution flew for issues aboard the #55 of Allison Ricci. On the restart, McLaughlin and Howard stayed one and two, but Mat Williamson who started ninth took third, and Stewart Friesen who started seventh was into fourth. Williamson and Friesen battled it out but it was Friesen with the advantage to take over third and it wouldn’t stop there as Friesen would work his way around Duane Howard for second. Out front McLaughlin would have a decent margin over the #44 but it was Friesen who would obtain the lead on lap 19. Friesen wouldn’t look back and collect the $1,000 win and the pole position for the 75 lap main event.
The second 25 lap qualifying race had Small Block 358 Modified star Joey Bonetti and a returning Dillon Steuer on the front row. On the start Steuer obtained the lead over Bonetti, and “Super Matt” Matt Sheppard would gain second. As they put distance on Bonetti, it was all eyes on Stony Point NY’s Matt Hitchcock. Hitchcock would be hooked up on the top side and would make his way around Billy VanInwegen Jr. before making his way into a battle with the #35 of Mike Mahaney. Hitchcock would battle with Mahaney until he found his way around the #35 and up to duel with the #9s of “”Super Matt”. Out front it was still Steuer leading with Sheppard and Hitchcock behind. Mahaney would be looking to find his way around Hitchcock, but behind them was two intense three wide battles for positions. The first one included “DC Express” Danny Creeden, “Ant Man” Anthony Perrego, and Billy VanInwegen Jr and the other was “The Waldwick Warrior” Tommy Meier, a returning Mike Gular, and Joey Bonetti. Lane swaps and position swaps supplied some of the event's greatest action and showed how hard the racers were charging to advance in position. However the caution free event would have Dillon Steuer putting on a dominant showcase and taking home a $1,000 win and the rights to starting front row in the 75 lap feature event. Tyler Dippel was able to dominate the B-Main, beating out Tyler Jashembowski and Larry Wight.
Stewart Friesen and Dillon Steuer saw the green flag wave first in the 75 lap main event. It took no time for Stewart Friesen to take the lead and put the pedal to the metal on the 5/8th mile. Caution laps for the event would count until lap fifty, and the first caution would happen on lap five in the event. The next restart still saw Friesen as your leader and Steuer trying to gain the momentum to catch the Halmar International #44. As the racing progressed another caution was displayed, and this time it was for a returning OCFS veteran Donnie Wilson. A lap thirteen restart still had Friesen and Steuer in the front, but the positions behind them would change as “Mad Max” Max McLaughlin would work his way around the #9s of Matt Sheppard and right to the back of the #17Z of Steuer. Steuer in return would be hot on the heels of Friesen, but not powerful enough to take over the top spot. By lap twenty two lapped traffic would play into the mix and give Steuer another shot at getting by the #44 of Friesen, but the veteran Friesen was able to maneuver through the traffic and Steuer began to get caught in it. A caution would come out on lap thirty, regrouping the field and taking away the extended lead Friesen built. On lap thirty five the field would restart. It was the likes of Lebanon Valley star “The Outlaw” LJ Lombardo and former track champion “Ant Man” Anthony Perrego who would try and take advantage on the restarts. Both Lombardo and Perrego would work their way into the mix up until the caution flew on lap sixty four for issues with the Adirondack Auto #35 of Mike Mahaney. Friesen had lapped up to the top ten by this point, and his lead was cut short with the caution. Steuer who was trailing Friesen would have one more go to get a shot at the lead at the drop of the green. When the green waved, Friesen still would remain out front, but Lombardo and Perrego would make moves battling for the fourth position, but it was “Super Matt” Matt Sheppard who got into the second position by Steuer. Steuer’s restart wasn’t the only unfortunate circumstance he would suffer, as a caution would be displayed for him with a right rear flat. The final restart would come after with Matt Sheppard one last shot at Stewart Friesen, but Friesen completely dominated the 75 lap event and became the third driver to be locked into the 2021 hunt for the championship.
The 15 lap Precision Hydraulic Rookie Sportsman feature started with Chad Loiodice and Mark Connoly Jr. on the front row. Loiodice would take the lead, but then it was Mike Mikulski who took over the command of the event. Behind Mikulski was a hard charging #63 of Tyler Banks who grabbed second. Mark Connoly Jr who started second, then took the lead from Mikulski, getting by both Mikulski and Banks. Connoly began to stretch his lead, but all eyes were on Isabella VanOrden and Brett Weslowski who were hard charging towards the front. Heartbreak came on lap eight for Connoly as a mechanical issue halted his chances at his first victory in the Rookie Sportsman giving the lead to Tyler Banks. Banks would stay out front and continue to be the leader up until a last lap yellow was displayed. This would put Tyler Banks and Kasey Hufcut on the front row with Isabella VanOrden and Brett Weslowski right behind them. When the green dropped Banks took off as your leader, but coming out of turn four in this one lap dash, Kasey Hufcut made the pass and became the fourth driver to win this season in the Rookie Sportsman division. VanOrden and Weslowski battled hard, but Weslowski was able to take the highside and get around VanOrden for a podium position.
H.O Penn Cat 358 Modified regular “The Viking” Erik Holmgren, was able to defeat everyone in the one on one spectator races and pick up a $400 pay day.