Friesen Flies To Big-Block Opener In Florida DCN At Volusia
Third Generation Racer Wins During Florida Speedweeks
Series PR Report
Making just the second appearance of his budding career during race weeks, third-generation Canadian chauffeur Stewart Friesen put all doubts to rest Wednesday night with his first-ever Big-Block Modified victory at Volusia Speedway Park to open the 39th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals By University of Northwestern Ohio.

The lead-off win in DIRTcar Racing Northeast’s 35th successive season of operation for the energetic driver of Tom Cullen’s no. 1 Pizza Logs-Jeff Daley & Sons Oil Service-Westmoreland Golf Club/TEO entry was scored in flag-to-flag fashion and worth a cool $2,000 on an even colder night of competition witnessed by the heartiest of race fans in the Sunshine State.

“Last night we were having a couple cocktails and everybody was telling us we had no business being down here, I guess we proved them all wrong,” beamed Friesen, 26, referring to Tuesday evening’s practice session for the Super DIRTcar Series Modifieds that was cancelled due to rain early in the afternoon. “This trip to Florida is already worth it.”

“Now we’re just going to keep on rolling, we get three more days of this. Maybe we’ll just keep this car in the trailer until that 50-lapper ($5,000 to win) on Saturday, I don’t know,” Friesen remarked.

Shadowed the entire distance by runner-up Dale Planck from Cortland, N.Y., Friesen survived four caution periods and a rare red flag to emerge as the 34th different winner in 109 events staged since the mighty DIRTcar Modifieds first ventured to Volusia in 1978. Eastern New York invader Bobby Varin from Sharon Springs, Central New York traveler Jimmy Phelps from Baldwinsville and top Frenchmen Mario Clair from St-Edmond, Que. filled out the final front-five.

The winningest Big-Block driver in 2009, Matt Sheppard from Waterloo, N.Y. crossed the line sixth followed by veteran Ohioan Rex King Sr., past Florida Tour champions Jimmy Horton, Alan Johnson and Billy Pauch in the Top-10, with reigning DCN points king Pat Ward finishing 11th after rallying from an early race flat tire.

With a heads-up start format in place for only the first round in the four-race mini-series, heat one winner Friesen paced the 26th car starting field as the Northeastern Modifieds went green to unleash their 26th trip to Florida. New Jersey legend Billy Pauch slowed in turn two to incur the first yellow flag yet it was the ensuing restart involving fellow Garden State standout Brett Hearn that resulted in a red light situation which reduced the grid by eight cars just two laps into the 30-lap finale.

Exiting turn four to start lap three, fifth-place runner Hearn clipped the inside cement wall and broke the front end of the Madsen Motorsports no. 20 Wentworth Custom Homes/TEO mount. He limped across the track with no steering and tried to tuck up against the wall below the starter’s stand, yet that was all he could do as the back of the pack piled in one after another with Pennsylvanian Dan Vauter launched into the air.

“The car itself is fine, just the skin has to be replaced,” downplayed Hearn, a 19-time Florida feature winner and seven-time DCN points champ, in the aftermath of suffering his worst finish down south since placing 24th in the ’06 winter tour opener; incidentally followed up with two wins and a third-place to wrap-up the series points crown. “We’ll probably park it for the rest of the week, but if we had to, we could still get it back together in time to race.”

The green flag flew once more and Friesen returned to his post out front, now with only 16 racers left to join in the chase. Eighth starting Ward slipped in turn to bottle up traffic behind him with four laps complete, and just two more times around the Barberville half-miler the Genoa, N.Y. wheelman slowed with a right-rear flat tire. A jumble up front on the third restart dropped third-place Phelps one spot, allowing Varin to grab the show position with King Sr. clinging to a top-five with nearly a third of the race complete.

A victim of the lap seven skirmish, Jamie Mills suddenly slid off the track high in turn four before using the outside access road to idle into the pits for an early departure. At the halfway mark, the front of the field remained intact, although Clair moved into a Top-5 slot hoping to score his own personal best in gator country.

Despite Rick Laubach slamming the turn four uke tire down low to force out the final yellow flag on lap 21, Friesen was flawless back under green and never waivered as the final 10 laps clicked off. Planck drew within a handful of car-lengths at the stripe, but Friesen was unfazed over the final five miles and went on to log the fifth DIRTcar Big-Block win of his career in the 35-minute main.

“We were pretty good, changing tires, mounting tires, really fiddling around all night long,” noted Friesen, who was scored 7th, 20th and 18th in his only other visit to Volusia in 2006, climbing into 19th on the final DCN points chart. “Whatever we did, starting position was still key tonight.”

“Had a good draw coming to the gate, then we were able to get by Brett (Hearn) in the first heat. The car was on rails after that and we were in a good position to capitalize on it. Our Bilstein Shock package was a killer, we got tricks up our sleeves there. But what’s really great is the way Jeff Daley and Marty Burdick stepped up, last week at this point we didn’t even have a motor. Now we’ve got a win, we’re excited no matter what happens the rest of the week,” Friesen said.

Returning to Barberville after notching that elusive first win at Volusia in 2008, Planck was content with second-place debuting a brand new car on opening day.

“Can’t really ask for much more, this car came right out of the box with a new shock package and it ran just great,” stated Planck, 39, first-string driver in the RezX Racing No. 77x Twin Leaf/Bicknell machine. “We had a real good draw for the heat, but the car still seemed to be real strong all night. Figured if I could get by (Stew) into turn one, I was going to do good. If not I would just settle into second and keep an eye on tire wear.”

“This was the first night out for pretty much everything, so obviously I’m pretty happy. Have to thank Carey Terrance for letting me come down. We were close to not even making the trip a couple weeks back. Can’t wait for the rest of the shows, we should be able to do even better with more laps under out belt,” said Planck, who remained taking antibiotics while recently battling flu-like symptoms during the week.

Like Friesen, not racing at Volusia since the winter of 2006, Varin also contended for Northeast bragging rights in the 2003, 2005 and 1999 stops at the Route 40 oval. Yet prior to Wednesday, the multi-time Fonda (NY) Speedway Big-Block points champion could only muster 8th in ’05 and 9th in ’06.

“It was a tough track tonight, but we had a really good race car,” boasted Varin, who steered the no. 10 Commercial Roofing & Sheetmetal-JWJ Container-Gypsum/Bicknell machine into third to snatch his first career Top-5 in Florida. “Kenny Saya (owner) put us out in a good race car and Eric Kingsley is doing a good job on the wrenches.”

“It was kinda tough passing out there tonight, but these guys are all pretty tough anyways. Especially with a lot of fast cars starting up front. Congratulations to Stewart, he deserved it, and Dale did a fine job too,” added Varin, himself a four-time race winner from 1995-2003 on the demanding Super DIRTcar Series.

Four qualifying heats were used to break down the 43-car field that once again included a GM spec motor-powered Modified that was driven this time by versatile runner Danny Johnson. Friesen, Planck, Phelps and Varin copped heat race wins while Andy Bachetti and Billy Decker won last chance consolation round qualifiers to determine the feature grid.

Friesen leads the ground-pounding NE Modifieds back to Volusia for two more regular programs on Thursday and Friday before DIRTcar Racing Northeast's Big-Block stars battle in the fourth and final round on Saturday, February 13 as a $5,000-to-win 50-lap championship event will decide the 2010 DIRTcar Nationals points championship.

39th Florida DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH Big-Block Modified Schedule
*All times and events subject to change.                       

General Daily Schedule:
10:00 am  -- Pit Gates Open, Transporter Parking, Team Entry
1:00 pm  Pit Pass Sales Open
3:00 pm  Pits Cleared, Pit Passes/Credentials required
4:40pm Grandstand, Midway areas cleared.
5:00pm Grandstand Gate opens
5:00pm  Drivers meetings (All draws for starting position conclude at the end of the driver’s meeting)
6:00pm  Hot Laps/ Qualifying
7:20 pm Opening Ceremonies
7:30 pm First Race
2nd & 3rd Nights (Thr.-Fri.)
26 Car Field Maximum
4 heats (8-laps) with 5 cars from each qualifying for ‘A’ Feature
2 ‘B’-Features (10-laps) with 2 cars transferring
2 Provisional Positions to highest finishing point earners not to qualify through the ‘B’-Features
(Top 8 – 1st and 2nd – from each heat Redraw)
Final Night (Sat.-Feb. 13)
28 Car Field Maximum
4 heats (8-laps) with 5 cars from each qualifying for ‘A’ Feature
2 ‘B’-Features (10-laps) with 3 cars transferring
2 Provisional Positions to highest finishing point earners not to qualify through the ‘B’-Features
(Top 8 – 1st and 2nd – from each heat Redraw)

Super DIRTcar Series – Volusia Speedway Park, February 10, 2010
39th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH Event #1


1          1          1f         Stewart Friesen/Niagara-o-t-Lake,ONT($2,000)
2          2          77x      Dale Planck/Cortland,NY
3          4          10        Bobby Varin/Sharon Springs,NY
4          3          98h     Jimmy Phelps/Baldwinsville,NY
5          18        22        Mario Clair/St-Edmond,QUE
6          9          9s        Matt Sheppard/Waterloo,NY
7          6          65        Rex King/Bristolville,OH
8          19        14        Jimmy Horton/Neshanic Station,NJ
9          13        66w     Alan Johnson/Middlesex,NY
10        23        1p        Billy Pauch/Frenchtown,NJ
11        8          42p     Pat Ward/Genoa,NY
12        22        91        Billy Decker/Unadilla,NY
13        25        1x        Willy Decker/Vernon,NY
14        26        33        Ray Swinehart/Bechtelsville,PA
15        24        19h     Chris Higgins/Syracuse,NY
16        16        7          Rick Laubach/Quakertown,PA
17        12        165     Rex King Jr./Bristolville,OH
18        10        30        Jamie Mills/Milford,DE
19        5          20        Brett Hearn/Sussex,NJ
20        7          49er    Danny Johnson/Rochester,NY
21        11        0          Richie Pratt Jr./Woodbury Heights,NJ
22        17        85        Dan Vauter/Forest City,PA
23        14        07        Tim Kerr/Picton,ONT
24        15        48too  Dave Rauscher/Waterloo,NY
25        20        29        Vic Coffey/Leicester,NY
26        21        34        Andy Bachetti/Sheffield,MA


85j-H.J. Bunting III/Milford,DE
97-Michel Chicoine/Ste-Cecile de Milton,QUE
43-Keith Flach/Ravena,NY
70-Eric Acquaro/New Windsor,NY
t21-Roger Chrysler/Lewiston,NY
6-John Stangle/Neshanic Station,NJ
01-Brett Ballard/Pennsville,NJ
21k-Randy Chrysler/Lewiston,NY
66w-Wallace Stacey/Kahnawake,QUE
23-Billy VanInwegen/Sparrowbush,NY
56-Vince Vitale/Phoenix,NY
1-Darwin Greene/Susquehanna,PA
8-Rich Scagliotta/Bound Brook,NJ
8r-Rob Bellinger/Dexter,NY
99L-Larry Wight/Phoenix,NY
79-Jeremy Markle/Port Jervis,NY
66-Dexter Stacey/Kahnawake,QUE
Lap Leader: Friesen (1-30).
Cautions: 4 (lap 2, lap 6, lap 11, lap 21); 1 Red Flag (lap 3).
2 (lap 16, lap 25).


Heat Races (8 laps, top 5 finishers transferred to feature)
#1: Friesen, Hearn, Sheppard, A.Johnson, Vauter, Bachetti, W.Decker, Chicoine, Acquaro, Stangle, Ra.Chrysler (DNS).
#2: Planck, R.King Sr., Mills, Kerr, Clair, Pauch, Bunting, Flach, Ro.Chrysler, Ballard, VanInwegen.
#3: Phelps, D.Johnson, Pratt, Rauscher, Horton, B.Decker, Swinehart, Greene, Bellinger, Markle, W.Stacey (DNS).
#4: Varin, Ward, R.King Jr., Laubach, Coffey, Higgins, Vitale, Scagliotta, Wight, D.Stacey.

Consolation Round (10 laps, top 3 finishers transferred to feature)
#1: Bachetti, Pauch, W.Decker, Chicoine, Ballard, Flach, Bunting, Ro.Chrysler, VanInwegen, Acquaro, Stangle, Ra.Chrysler (DNS).
#2: B.Decker, Higgins, Swinehart, Wight, Bellinger, Scagliotta, Vitale, Greene, Markle, D.Stacey.