Going into Bristol, Stewart Friesen was just outside being on the bubble for making the NCWTS playoffs. If the race were to be won by a driver with no other wins, Friesen and Matt Crafton would have had to compete for the final 8th spot. 19 points were needed by Friesen to finish ahead of Crafton to clinch it. With Sauter taking first, both Friesen and Crafton would secure their playoff positions.
Having finished 2nd in his no.112 Super Late Model at Bristol earlier in the season for the Short Track U.S. Nationals, Friesen went into Thursday's race confident that he would get the finish the team needed for a playoffs run. Friesen's short track prowess was on full display as he took 2nd place again at the world's fastest half mile, finishing just behind Johnny Sauter.
It wasn't exactly smooth sailing for Friesen, who started 13th despite being fastest in final practice. Although having one of his worst starting positions of the season, he was quickly able to work his way up, finishing the first stage in 7th place and the second in 4th, picking up 7 stage points.
In the final 20 laps of the race, Friesen was able to reach front runners Nemechek and Sauter who were caught up in lapped traffic. With just 5 laps remaining, Sauter and Friesen were able to pass the no.8 of Nemechek. Running out of laps, Friesen pushed for the lead but was unable to steal it away from Sauter, ultimately finishing just 2 tenths of a second behind 2016's points champion.
HFR fans have been waiting on the edges of their seats for a Friesen win and came as close as ever last night. Despite their disappointment, Friesen has officially made the playoffs and is in contention for the championship in only his second full-time NCWTS season. Asked about winning, Friesen said “Wins will come, but battling for wins is all you can ask for, and that’s what we’re doing as a race team.”
Next week, Stewart Friesen heads to home country turf at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for the Chevrolet Silverado 250.