Friesen Banks $10,000 Hard Clay Finale

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Stewart Friesen en route to victory Thursday night at Orange County Fair Speedway. (Dan Demarco photo)
Stewart Friesen en route to victory Thursday night at Orange County Fair Speedway. (Dan Demarco photo)

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — Stewart Friesen rode the outside rim to a $10,400 victory in the Behrent’s Performance Warehouse Hard Clay Finale at Orange County Fair Speedway, the final round of the Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series North Region.

Matt Sheppard, with a fourth-place finish, clinched his first North Region title, worth $12,500 for the Hurlock Auto & Speed team. Sheppard, more importantly, inched closer to the Insinger Performance-Sunoco Race Fuels Grand Championship, worth $58,500. Sheppard only needs to take the green flag next Saturday at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway to clinch the STSS Velocita-USA South Region title and secure the huge payday.

A new record field of 89 competitors signed in for competition on the eve of Eastern States Weekend. Through eight heat races and three consolations, the starting field was trimmed to 32 for the 50-lap main event.

Friesen, by virtue of the redraw, started 12th on the field.

Andy Bachetti, a three-time series champion, was the dominant force early on. Bachetti launched into the lead from the outside pole and accrued a seven-second lead prior to the first caution on lap nine.

Michael Storms and a rim-riding Friesen emerged to race with Bachetti. On lap 17 Bachetti and Storms collided momentarily on the frontstretch. Friesen shot the gap on the inside lane and took over a lead he would never relinquish.

Friesen drove to his 17th career STSS victory, the most of any driver.

Larry Wight, making his debut for Delaware-based car owner Gary Simpson, throttled from 26th to chase Friesen across the line. Unfortunately for Wight, the No. 12K came up light on the scales and he was disqualified.

Anthony Perrego, who started 25th in Ray Graham’s No. 18, placed second, receiving $5,000 for his efforts plus $400 from Land Hoe Maintenance as the race’s Hard Charger.

Bachetti placed third, taking home $4,000. Sheppard, who started his championship drive from 13th, finished fourth and Billy Decker advanced from 18th to place fifth in the Jeremy Smith Racing No. 91. Decker ran as high as second in the event.

The finish:

Stewart Friesen, Anthony Perrego, Andy Bachetti, Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Jimmy Horton, Mat Williamson, Billy Pauch Jr., Mike Gular, Erick Rudolph, Brett Hearn, Mike Maheney, Dan Creeden, Bobby Varin, Mike Storms, Billy Van Pelt, Brian Gleason, Craig Hanson, Daniel Morgiewicz, J.R. Hulburt, Leo Fotopoulos Jr., David Schilling, Joe Bonetti, Rick Laubach, Jeff Strunk, Allison Ricci, Matt Stangle, Dillon Steuer, Jeff Heotzler, Michael Trautschold, Craig Mitchell, Larry Wight.