FRIESEN EARNS TOP SPOT FOR SUNDAY’S 200 LAPPER
MIDDLETOWN – Stewart Friesen will have the best seat in the house Sunday afternoon when the 55th edition of the prestigious Eastern States 200 takes center stage for some of the best Modified drivers in the Northeast and Canada during the Weekend Racing Festival at the Orange County Fair Speedway.
Friesen, one of the top Modified talents for the past several seasons, was the only driver to break the 21-second barrier in time trials Friday afternoon as he grabbed the pole for the 200-lap grind with an impressive time of 20.999 seconds around the five-eighths mile, hard clay oval.
Friesen, fresh off his impressive victory in the Bud Lite 200 at the Oswego Speedway on Oct. 9, was among the final group to take time during the day as OCFS track officials worked feverishly to get the racing program completed. The Sprakers driver turned in an initial lap of :21.026 to knock Brett Hearn off the pole. He bettered that with an average speed of 107.655 miles per hour on his second trip.
Friesen, who was a weekly competitor at OCFS for the first time in 2016, is still searching for his first win here this season as well as his first Eastern States 200 crown. But the task won’t to any easy one with several top Modified drivers on hand as well as a mandatory pit stop each driver must take after 30 laps have been completed in the event.
Hearn, who has a record 11 Eastern States Modified titles to his credit, will surely give Friesen all he can handle. The Vernon Township, N.J., driver has amassed 303 victories during his OCFS career and will start alongside Friesen in the front row after posting the second quickest time of 21.041 seconds.
Both Hearn and Friesen will also be contenders in this afternoon’s Eastern States 100 championship for the Small Block Modified drivers. Both will be looking to qualify for the race during time trials, heat races and consolation events. The Capital Region Sprint Agency (CRSA) 305 sprint car drivers will also be in action with qualifiers and a 25-lap feature. Racing gets underway at 11:30 a.m. with time trials.
There is a first-place prize of $15,000 at stake for the Small Block Modified winner. The winner of Sunday’s 200-lapper will earn $35,000. If one driver sweeps both races, a $10,000 bonus will be added – meaning one driver could collect at least $60,000.
Hearn and 2016 Modified track champion Tommy Meier came close to that feat last season. Meier won the 200-lapper but finished second to Hearn in the 100-lap title race for the Small Blocks. Hearn was a close second to Meier in the 200.
Former Eastern States winner Billy Decker turned in the third quickest Modified time aboard Vic Coffey’s No. 32C car with a time of 21.133 seconds. He was followed by Tim Hindley (:21.181), Meier (:21.187) and Jimmy Phelps (:21.261).
There are already 36 cars penciled in for Sunday’s 200-lap race with the remainder of the field coming from a series of consolation races. Those winning heat events were Danny Creeden, Brian Krummel, Danny Johnson, John Ferrier, Ronnie Johnson and Jerry Higbie.