One Last Win for Friesen and Daley at the Moody Mile – DTD Exclusive

By MIKE MALLETT

For the fourth time in his career Stewart Friesen hoisted the trophy as a winner of the Syracuse 200 at the New York State Fairgrounds. Of course it’s a bittersweet win as this is set to be the final edition of Super DIRT Week to be held at the famous mile oval. It was only fitting that the car Jeff Daley owned No. 44 won the 44th and final chapter of the historic race.

It was an emotional day for everyone involved, including Friesen, who is as much a student of the history of racing as a race car driver. He understands the significance of being the final winner at the Mile. Something that will ultimately put him forever in the history books.

“For me personally it hit me when we finished and went over the scales,” said Friesen. “They gave me the thumbs up, and I went down to the front stretch and it really hit me hard. It was just unbelievable. I said this to people earlier that when I was a kid coming to Syracuse, when I was six or seven years old, I watched Brett Hearn win. I knew I wanted to do it someday. I never thought I’d actually have the chance to compete here. Then getting to run the Sportsman car and the small-block, just having a chance to compete at this event, this facility, it is where I wanted to race. It’s really sad we are going to lose it. But like Ken (Tremont) said, we had big races before and the sport went on and it will be fine.”

Jeff Daley, now four-time winning car owner, reiterated the same sentiment after watching Friesen drive his car to the win.

“It’s unreal to win the last one, it’s unbelievable to win any of them really,” stated Daley. “It shows how much hard work these guys put into it. I pull this car out myself at the end of June to start working on it. We worked with Billy the Kid (Performance Engines) on the motor. We took it to the Valley and then had some more changes made to it. We got it where we thought we needed. These guys just worked their asses off, this driver isn’t that bad either. He just gets it done.”

As has been the case with the last couple of Syracuse wins, Friesen and company overcame some adversity on Sunday while en route to racing their way to the $50,000 payday. Friesen pitted just before the midway point with the team making wholesale changes to car, which paid off.

“The adversity this morning (changing a rear) was pretty minor, then during the race when we started the car was not very good,” stated Friesen. “It was the first time we really ran with a full fuel load during the week. We learned some things and had a game plan to pit and make some adjustments. We made four or five changes. We were able to overcome stuff very quickly. We had calculated attacks. It worked out great. We made the changes, had a fast car, when it all cycled out we really weren’t that far out of it. As Kenny (Tremont) said, you try to make your last pit-stop the shortest one and it was our longest. The way it cycled out it was at the right time.”

Daley watched as the team made the changes. He knew the car wasn’t where it needed to be but that his guys would make the changes necessary to get Friesen to the front.

“In the beginning the car was a little bit off, not quite right,” said Daley. “We came in and put some tires on it. We made some adjustments. He came over the radio and told us he had a race car now. We knew we had enough fuel. At the beginning it didn’t look good, but then the second half the car came in and he did what he does best.”

Friesen put on a clinic over the final 40 laps of the race. He passed all the best that racing has to offer including Brett Hearn, Jimmy Phelps and Matt Sheppard. In typical Friesen fashion he used the outside in turn three to make the pass for the lead.

“I can’t believe it worked out like that,” Friesen said about taking the lead. “I felt really bad for Matt (Sheppard). The work these guys both do, he and Jimmy (Phelps), they have tremendous race cars and a tremendous race team. They are both really smart guys so it wasn’t a surprise to see them running one two at the end there. They did everything perfectly. I really did feel bad for Matty. Anything can happen in this race with problems and we were lucky to not have any problems.”

The win at Sunday concluded an impressive week in which Friesen drove a DIRTcar legal 358-Modified, an open 358-Modified (I-88 Speedway), a USAC Silver Crown car and a big-block Modified. He had success in every car he hopped into with his worst finish a seventh in Saturday’s 358-Modified finale on the Mile.

“We had good race teams,” he stated. “We have a great relationship with Fred and Gloria Gormly with the Silver Crown and Robbie Hart. It worked out we could run their car again. It was a great time and coming from the back was fun. We had a decent run with the small-block, it really isn’t our specialty. Jimmy (Phelps) and those guys did a great job with their strategy. We talked about that but didn’t want to get stuck in the back and get in a wreck. We stayed safe. After that my neighbor took the other car down to Afton and we won that championship so it was a great night. Everything was really, really planned and it worked out.”

History will now long remember that Friesen and Daley were the final winning combination ever at the historic New York State Fairgrounds. The final chapter has been written and is now concluded with over 100 years of racing at the facility.

“It’s special for sure, very, very special,” commented Friesen about his place in history. “It is something I take very seriously, it’s cool. That’s what we came here to do and that’s what we do when we go to any race; try to win. To have it work out in our favor today is awesome.”