By: Bobby Sweeney
GEORGETOWN, DE – Stewart Friesen started 23rd at Georgetown’s Blast At The Beach event for the Short Track Super Series, a tall order in a short race around the lightning quick half mile. However, Friesen powered through the pack and stole the lead from Billy Pauch Jr. with a slide job coming to the white flag, capping off an impressive charge with an impressive win.
Matt Stangle led the opening stages of the 35-lap Blast At the Beach over Jeff Strunk and Tyler Dippel, with early movers headlined by Anthony Perrego. Stangle showed good pace early on, working up to a two-second lead by lap five, as second place Strunk had a hornets nest behind him. Strunk, Dippel, and others worked the top, while Perrego rolled the bottom and by Dippel for third on lap seven. A lap nine yellow for Matt Sheppard erased Stangle’s lead and momentarily paused the wild battle for second on back.
Stangle kept his speed up on the restart, leaving Strunk and Perrego to fight for second. Pauch Jr. was on the hammer, driving up to fourth and instantly reeling in the duo of Strunk and Perrego. A yellow on lap 13 set up an absolutely unfortunate restart for Stangle, who slipped to fourth as Strunk, Pauch, and Perrego slotted into first, second, and third. Behind them, Friesen was storming through the field, snatching fifth at the field got the halfway signal.
Pauch and Perrego battled for second, but even while battling, still reeled in Strunk for the lead. Soon as the pair reached Strunk, the caution flew on lap 20, with Pauch driving by Strunk to take command when race pace resumed. Friesen got the best of Perrego on the restart, then sliding by Strunk for second on lap 25. A yellow on lap 27 let Friesen regroup and line up right behind Pauch, but Pauch fired well and built up a one-second lead.
Pauch’s lead peaked with five laps remaining, then rapidly shrunk. With Pauch up top, Friesen went searching in the middle and bottom lanes. By lap 33, Friesen was there, and tossed a slider on Pauch coming to the white flag. The move stuck, with Pauch unable to return the favor entering turn one on the last lap. With the checkered waiving, it was Friesen taking the win over Pauch, Perrego, Sheppard from the tail after his early issues, and Strunk.
“What a great car and team we have,” Friesen said. “We made minor changes after the heat, taking a look at Jessica’s notebook on what to do. We got it turning and it went real well both bottom and top. This place is definitely the fastest track we race on with these cars, and we had an awesome surface tonight. I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to clear Billy with that move, but I got some brown on the bottom and drove it hard up the hill. I saw Billy starting to skate up top, so I got to working around and was able to get him.”